The tractatus theory of descriptions

Theoria 75 (4):252-271 (2009)
Abstract
In this article I construe Russell's definite description notation as a fragment of an "ideal language"– a language in which, as Russell puts it in the "Logical Atomism" lectures, "the words in a proposition correspond one by one with the components of the corresponding fact." Russell's notation – containing as it does variables, quantifiers and the identity sign – commits him to an ontology that is lavish indeed. It thus conflicts with the spirit of the theory of descriptions, which is developed in the service of ontological frugality. I make use of arguments derived from the Tractatus to show that an ideal language need not contain logical signs. I thus defend the spirit of the theory of descriptions while departing from its letter
Keywords Russell  ideal language  Tractatus  theory of descriptions  Wittgenstein
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DOI 10.1111/j.1755-2567.2009.01053.x
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A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1993 - Philosophical Perspectives 7 (3):429-440.
Philosophical Papers.J. L. Austin - 1961 - Oxford University Press.

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