Many philosophers of language have held that a truth-conditional semantic account can explain the data motivating the distinction between referential and attributive uses of definite descriptions, but I believe this is a mistake. I argue that these data also motivate what I call “dual-aspect” uses as a distinct but closely related type. After establishing that an account of the distinction must also explain dual-aspect uses, I argue that the truth-conditional Semantic Model of the distinction cannot. Thus, the Semantic Model cannot (...) explain the data for which it is developed and so fails as an account of the referential/attributive distinction. (shrink)
Are there natural kinds of things around which our theories cut? The essays in this volume offer reflections by a distinguished group of philosophers on a series of intertwined issues in the metaphysics and epistemology of classification.
Abstract In this essay, I critically discuss a theory of utterance content and de re communication that Anne Bezuidenhout has recently developed in a series of articles. This theory regards the significance of utterances as more pragmatic in nature than allowed by traditional accounts; further, it downplays logical considerations in explaining de re communication, choosing instead to emphasize its psychological character. Included among the implications of this approach is the rejection of what can be called ?common content?, or utterance content (...) that is held in common by speaker and listener. After describing this theory, I argue that Bezuidenhout does not supply a compelling reason to prefer her account of utterance content over more traditional alternatives that make room for elements of content held in common between speaker and listener. Further, I argue that her account of de re communication supplies even more reason to reject the view of content to which she subscribes. In the end, it will be clear that she has no principled reason for rejecting common content. (shrink)