In Reinaldo Elugardo & Robert J. Stainton (eds.), Ellipsis and Nonsentential Speech. Springer. pp. 185–201 (2005)

Authors
Alex Barber
Open University (UK)
Abstract
Russell argued, famously, that definite descriptions are not logical constituents of the sentences in which they appear. In neither of the following should we suppose that the definite description picks anything out: The King of France is bald The Prince of Wales is bald Since France is a republic, nothing could be picked out by the first; and if the semantic structures of each are the same, it cannot be the function of the second to pick anything out either. On the alternative semantics developed in his 1905 article 'On Denoting', definite descriptions do not have meaning in isolation; they have meaning only in the context of a whole sentence. Andrew Botterell and Robert Stainton have pointed out that this conclusion appears to be at odds with the phenomenon of unembedded definite descriptions, in which definite descriptions are uttered, meaningfully, without accompanying predicates. For example, it is possible to utter 'The last temptation' on its own and in doing so express a proposition. Since definite descriptions can be used in this way, how can it be right to claim, with Russell, that they lack meaning in isolation? The present paper seeks to show how a Russellian semantics for definite descriptions is entirely compatible with the phenomenon of unembedded definite descriptions. In particular, Botterell and Stainton are wrong to think that generalized quantifier semantics is better able to cope with the phenomenon than a more authentically Russellian syncategorematic semantics.
Keywords non-sentential assertion  definite descriptions  Bertrand Russell
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 51,304
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Reference and Definite Descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
Descriptions: Points of Reference.Kent Bach - 2004 - In Marga Reimer & Anne Bezuidenhout (eds.), Descriptions and Beyond. Clarendon Press. pp. 189-229.
Sharvy's Theory of Definite Descriptions Revisited.Berit Brogaard - 2007 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (2):160–180.
The Existence Entailments of Definite Descriptions.Paul Elbourne - 2010 - Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (1):1-10.
Descriptions.Stephen Neale - 1990 - MIT Press.
Unembedded Definite Descriptions and Relevance.Robert J. Stainton - 1998 - Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses 11:231-239.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2010-07-25

Total views
42 ( #224,345 of 2,330,099 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #583,587 of 2,330,099 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes