On the presuppositions of number sentences

Synthese 192 (5):1393-1412 (2015)


This paper is concerned with an intuitive contrast that arises when we consider sentences containing empty definite descriptions. A sentence like ‘The king of France is bald’ appears neither true nor false, while a sentence like ‘My friend was visited by the king of France’ appears false. Recently, Stephen Yablo has suggested an account of this intuitive contrast. Yablo’s account is particularly interesting, since it has important consequences for the ontological commitments of number sentences like ‘The number of planets is even’. However, the paper argues that Yablo’s account is not convincing and that it can thus not establish these consequences. Further, it develops a Strawsonian account of the intuitive contrast. The developed account allows us to draw important conclusions regarding the correct analysis of definite descriptions and of existence sentences containing definite descriptions.

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Katharina Felka
Uppsala University

References found in this work

Reference and Definite Descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
On Referring.Peter F. Strawson - 1950 - Mind 59 (235):320-344.
Grounding: An Opinionated Introduction.Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1-36.

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Citations of this work

Descriptions.Peter Ludlow - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Definite Descriptions and Negative Existential Quantifiers.Paul Elbourne - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1597-1612.
Should Metaphysics Care About Linguistics?Tobias Rosefeldt - 2018 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (2):161-178.

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