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Summary Descriptions commonly appear in the predicate place, as in "x is an F" or "x is the G."  Neither the Russellian analysis, the Frege/Strawson analysis, nor the Donnellean analyis of descriptions easily accommodates such uses of descriptions, however.  The problem is that descriptions in the predicate place seem to specify properties, not quantifiers or objects.  This raises two questions: first, how ought we to account for predicate-place descriptions?  And, second, is unified analysis of subject- and predicate-place descriptions is possible.  Attempts to offer such analyses have tended to treat descriptions as denoting properties rather than quantifiers.
Key works Kamp 1981 and Heim 1982 are largely responsible for introducing the predicative analysis of descriptions into formal semantics (for descriptions in the predicate place, specifically).  In the philosophical literature, Geach 1962 and Wiggins 1965 were early observers of the problems generated by predicate place descriptions.  More recently, Delia 2001 has proposed a unified analysis of descriptions according to which all descriptions are treated as predicates.
Introductions Ludlow 2008
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  1. added 2016-12-05
    Descriptions with Adverbs of Quantification.Delia Graff Fara - 2006 - Philosophical Issues 16 (1):65–87.
    In “Descriptions as Predicates” (Fara 2001) I argued that definite and indefinite descriptions should be given a uniform semantic treatment as predicates rather than as quantifier phrases. The aim of the current paper is to clarify and elaborate one of the arguments for the descriptions-aspredicates view, one that concerns the interaction of descriptions with adverbs of quantification.
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  2. added 2016-10-27
    A Companion to Philosophical Logic.Dale Jacquette (ed.) - 2002 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    This collection of newly comissioned essays by international contributors offers a representative overview of the most important developments in contemporary philosophical logic. Presents controversies in philosophical implications and applications of formal symbolic logic. Surveys major trends and offers original insights.
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  3. added 2014-03-21
    Descriptions: Frege and Russell Combined.Oswaldo Chateaubriand - 2002 - Synthese 130 (2):213 - 226.
  4. added 2014-03-19
    Descriptions As Predicates.Delia Graff - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 102 (1):1-42.
    Although Strawson’s main aim in “On Referring” was to argue that definite descriptions can be used referentially – that is, “to mention or refer to some individual person or single object . . . , in the course of doing what we should normally describe as making a statement about that person [or] object” (1950, p. 320) – he denied that definite descriptions are always used referentially. The description in ‘Napoleon was the greatest French soldier’ is not used referentially, says (...)
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  5. added 2014-03-14
    Identity Statements.David Wiggins - 1965 - In R. J. Butler (ed.), Analytic Philosophy, 2nd edition. Blackwell. pp. 40-71.
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  6. added 2011-01-28
    Descriptions with Adverbs of Quantification.Delia Graff - 2006 - Philosophical Issues 16 16:65–87.
    In “Descriptions as Predicates” (Graff 2001) I argued that definite and indefinite descriptions should be given a uniform semantic treatment as predicates rather than as quantifier phrases. The aim of the current paper is to clarify and elaborate one of the arguments for the descriptions-as-predicates view, one that concerns the interaction of descriptions with adverbs of quantification.
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  7. added 2011-01-23
    Descriptions: Predicates or Quantifiers?Berit Brogaard - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (1):117 – 136.
    In this paper I revisit the main arguments for a predicate analysis of descriptions in order to determine whether they do in fact undermine Russell's theory. I argue that while the arguments without doubt provide powerful evidence against Russell's original theory, it is far from clear that they tell against a quantificational account of descriptions.
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  8. added 2010-11-03
    Desires, Scope, and Tense.Fara Delia Graff - 2003 - Philosophical Perspectives 17 (1):141-163.
    According to James McCawley (1981) and Richard Larson and Gabriel Segal (1995), the following sentence is three-ways ambiguous: -/- Harry wants to be the mayor of Kenai. -/- According to them also, the three-way ambiguity cannot be accommodated on the Russellian view that definite descriptions are quantified noun phrases. In order to capture the three-way ambiguity of the sentence, these authors propose that definite descriptions must be ambiguous: sometimes they are predicate expressions; sometimes they are Russellian quantified noun phrases. After (...)
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  9. added 2009-05-28
    Descriptions and Logical Form.Gary Ostertag - 2002 - In Dale Jacquette (ed.), A Companion to Philosophical Logic.
  10. added 2009-05-26
    Russell's Theory of Descriptions Vs. The Predicative Analysis: A Reply to Graff.Berit Brogaard - unknown
    I. Descriptions in Predicative Position The predicative analysis and Russell’s theory part company when it comes to the argument structure assigned to sentences like (1). (1) Washington is the greatest French soldier. On a standard Russellian analysis, (1) has the following (a) logical form and (b) truth conditions.
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  11. added 2008-12-31
    Descriptions as Predicates.Graff Fara Delia - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 102 (1):1-42.
    Although Strawson’s main aim in “On Referring” was to argue that definite descriptions can be used referentially – that is, “to mention or refer to some individual person or single object . . . , in the course of doing what we should normally describe as making a statement about that person [or] object” (1950, p. 320) – he denied that definite descriptions are always used referentially. The description in ‘Napoleon was the greatest French soldier’ is not used referentially, says (...)
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