Referring [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 22 (3):574-574 (1969)

This book considers some of the problems of a logical nature about reference which have troubled contemporary philosophers--particularly problems about existence, identity, and definite descriptions. It deals with five philosophers who have been especially concerned with these logical problems: Meinong, Frege, Russell, Strawson, and Quine. The pivotal chapters concern Russell's theory of descriptions and Strawson's well-known critique of that theory in his paper "On Referring." According to Linsky, some of Strawson's criticisms of Russell hit their mark; but not all of them do, because Russell and Strawson turn out to have "compatible views about different subjects". Strawson is concerned with certain uses of words, Russell with propositions of certain kinds. Linsky's arguments on these matters are challenging precisely because they turn some of Strawson's own assumptions against him. But Strawsonians would surely want to carry the argument beyond this book by demanding a more thorough defense of the usefulness of introducing propositions into philosophical analysis as Russell does. Other noteworthy discussions of the book concern the consequences of Frege's semantics, substitutivity and impure reference in the chapter on Quine, and a discussion of extensionality and descriptions.--R. H. K.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph196922347
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