In Nicholas Griffin & Dale Jacquette (eds.), Russell Vs. Meinong: The Legacy of. Routledge (2009)

Bernard Linsky
University of Alberta
In ‘On Denoting’ and to some extent in ‘Review of Meinong and Others, Untersuchungen zur Gegenstandstheorie und Psychologie’, published in the same issue of Mind (Russell, 1905a,b), Russell presents not only his famous elimination (or contextual defi nition) of defi nite descriptions, but also a series of considerations against understanding defi nite descriptions as singular terms. At the end of ‘On Denoting’, Russell believes he has shown that all the theories that do treat defi nite descriptions as singular terms fall logically short: Meinong’s, Mally’s, his own earlier (1903) theory, and Frege’s. (He also believes that at least some of them fall short on other grounds—epistemological and metaphysical—but we do not discuss these criticisms except in passing). Our aim in the present paper is to discuss whether his criticisms actually refute Frege’s theory. We fi rst attempt to specify just what Frege’s theory is and present the evidence that has moved scholars to attribute one of three different theories to Frege in this area. We think that each of these theories has some claim to be Fregean, even though they are logically quite different from each other. This raises the issue of determining Frege’s attitude towards these three theories. We consider whether he changed his mind and came to replace one theory with another, or whether he perhaps thought that the different theories applied to different realms, for example, to natural language versus a language for formal logic and arithmetic. We do not come to any hard and fast conclusion here, but instead just note that all these theories treat defi nite descriptions as singular terms, and that Russell proceeds as if he has refuted them all. After taking a brief look at the formal properties of the Fregean theories (particularly the logical status of various sentences containing nonproper defi - nite descriptions) and comparing them to Russell’s theory in this regard, we turn to Russell’s actual criticisms in the above-mentioned articles to examine the extent to which the criticisms hold..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 50,488
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

On Referring.P. F. Strawson - 1950 - Mind 59 (235):320-344.
Facing Facts.Stephen Neale - 2001 - Clarendon Press.
Introduction to Metamathematics.H. Rasiowa - 1954 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 19 (3):215-216.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Descriptions: An Annotated Bibliography.Berit Brogaard - 2010 - Oxford Annotated Bibliographies Online.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
111 ( #80,954 of 2,326,561 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #431,580 of 2,326,561 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes