Direct Reference and Definite Descriptions

Dialectica 62 (1):43-57 (2008)
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Abstract

According to Donnellan the characteristic mark of a referential use of a definite description is the fact that it can be used to pick out an individual that does not satisfy the attributes in the description. Friends and foes of the referential/attributive distinction have equally dismissed that point as obviously wrong or as a sign that Donnellan's distinction lacks semantic import. I will argue that, on a strict semantic conception of what it is for an expression to be a genuine referential device, Donnellan is right: if a use of a definite description is referential, it must be possible for it to refer to an object independently of any attributes associated with the description, including those that constitute its conventional meaning.

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Genoveva Martí
ICREA And University Of Barcelona

References found in this work

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Themes From Kaplan.Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.) - 1989 - Oxford University Press.
Reference and definite descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
Speaker’s Reference and Semantic Reference.Saul A. Kripke - 1977 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2 (1):255-276.
The Causal Theory of Names.Gareth Evans - 1973 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 47 (1):187–208.

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