Mind 114 (456):889-913 (2005)
AbstractA common objection to Russell's theory of descriptions concerns incomplete definite descriptions: uses of (for example) ‘the book is overdue’ in contexts where there is clearly more than one book. Many contemporary Russellians hold that such utterances will invariably convey a contextually determined complete proposition, for example, that the book in your briefcase is overdue. But according to the objection this gets things wrong: typically, when a speaker utters such a sentence, no facts about the context or the speaker's communicative intentions single out a particular description-theoretic proposition as the proposition expressed. However, this is an objection only if it is assumed that successful linguistic communication requires the hearer to identify a proposition uniquely intended by the speaker. We argue that this assumption is mistaken. On our view, no proposition, descriptive or referential, is uniquely intended in such a context; thus, no proposition can nor need be identified as the proposition expressed. One significant upshot is that, once the aforementioned assumption is rejected, incompleteness no longer poses a threat to Russell's theory of descriptions.
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads
References found in this work
Thoughts and Utterances: The Pragmatics of Explicit Communication.Robyn Carston - 2002 - Oxford: Blackwell.
Reference and Definite Descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
Citations of this work
Saying a Bundle: Meaning, Intention, and Underdetermination.Mark Bowker - 2019 - Synthese 196 (10):4229-4252.
Demonstratives as Individual Concepts.Paul Elbourne - 2008 - Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (4):409-466.
Similar books and articles
The 'Tractatus' and the Unity of the Proposition.Stewart Candlish & Nic Damnjanovic - 2012 - In Jl Zalabardo (ed.), Wittgenstein's Early Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
How Wittgenstein Defeated Russell’s Multiple Relation Theory of Judgment.Peter W. Hanks - 2007 - Synthese 154 (1):121 - 146.
Metaphor and What is Said: A Defense of a Direct Expression View of Metaphor.Anne Bezuidenhout - 2001 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 25 (1):156–186.
Reflexivity, Indexicality and Names.John Perry - 1997 - In W. Künne, A. Newen & M. Anduschus (eds.), Direct Reference, Indexicality and Propositional Attitudes. CSLI Publications. pp. 3--19.
Descriptions: Points of Reference.Kent Bach - 2004 - In Marga Reimer & Anne Bezuidenhout (eds.), Descriptions and Beyond. Clarendon Press. pp. 189-229.
Pragmatics, Semantic Undetermination and the Referential/Attributive Distinction.A. Bezuidenhout - 1997 - Mind 106 (423):375-409.