On the Russellian reformation

Philosophical Studies 147 (2):247 - 271 (2010)
Recently, an orthodox Russellian tenet has come under fire from within. In particular, some Russellians now argue that definite descriptions don’t semantically encode uniqueness. Instead, Reformed Russellians, as I call them, hold that definite descriptions are truth-theoretically identical to indefinite ones. On this approach, a definite description’s uniqueness reading becomes a matter of pragmatics, not semantics. These reforms, we’re told, provide both empirical and methodological benefits over and above the prevailing orthodoxy. As I argue, however, the Russellian Reformation contains serious flaws. Indeed, it is Orthodox Russellianism that remains a superior choice, both empirically and conceptually.
Keywords Descriptions  Russell, Bertrand  Uniqueness  Incompleteness  Monotonicity  Familiarity theory of definiteness
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DOI 10.2307/40542493
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Jon Barwise & John Perry (1981). Situations and Attitudes. Journal of Philosophy 78 (11):668-691.
Bertrand Russell (2005). On Denoting. Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.
David Lewis (1979). Scorekeeping in a Language Game. Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.

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