Rigid Designation and Definite Descriptions

Filozofia Nauki 19 (4) (2011)

The aim of this paper is to discuss an idea that referentially used definite descriptions are rigid designators or, at least, „weakly” rigid designators in some sense of this term. In the first part, the views of Nathan Salmon, Howard Wettstein and Michael Devitt are presented. The author observes that none of these positions provides a conclusive argument in the discussion on the issue in question. In the second part, it is argued that referentially used descriptions are in some sense rigid. The main argument appeals to some observations concerning the scope ambiguity of modal constructions in which definite descriptions are embedded, and applies in an essential way Kripke’s possible worlds-semantics. In particular, the author attempts to demonstrate that in a „de dicto” modal construction, a referential description is rigid in a sense that it designates the same object in all „accessible” worlds. Moreover, he observes that his conclusion can be accepted by someone who is a proponent of a unified semantic analysis of definite descriptions, since his whole argumentation is based on the unified quantificational treatment of descriptions
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