Descriptions and non-doxastic attitude ascriptions

Philosophical Studies 175 (6):1311-1331 (2018)

This paper addresses a certain objection to the quantificational theory of definite descriptions. According to this objection, the quantificational account cannot provide correct interpretations of definite descriptions embedded in the non-doxastic attitude ascriptions and therefore ought to be rejected. In brief, the objection says that the quantificational theory is committed to the view that a sentence of the form “The F is G” is equivalent to the claim that there is a unique F and it is G, while the ascription such as, e.g., “S wants the F to be G” is not equivalent to the statement that S wants there to be a F and for it to be G. I argue that this objection is invalid as it rests on a false assumption concerning the substitutivity of the relative clauses in the non-doxastic attitude ascriptions.
Keywords Definite descriptions  Propositional attitudes  Quantificational account  Substitutivity
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-017-0912-7
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