Philosophical Studies 164 (1):41-59 (2013)

Paolo Santorio
University of Maryland, College Park
On a popular view dating back to Russell, descriptions, both definite and indefinite alike, work syntactically and semantically like quantifiers. I have an argument against Russell's view. The argument supports a different picture: descriptions can behave syntactically and semantically like variables. This basic idea can be implemented in very different systematic analyses, but, whichever way one goes, there will be a significant departure from Russell. The claim that descriptions are variables is not new: what I offer is a new way of defending it. The argument centers on attitude reports. I argue that we should recognize a new reading of descriptions under attitude reports, which I call ‘singular opaque’. The existence of this reading cannot be explained on the traditional Russellian view, and demands a switch to the variable view. Along the way, some interesting new facts about attitude reports come to light
Keywords Descriptions  Attitude verbs  Variables  Anaphora   De dicto   De re
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-013-0095-9
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References found in this work BETA

On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.

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Citations of this work BETA

Semantics with Assignment Variables.Alex Silk - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pronouns as Demonstratives.Kyle H. Blumberg - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
Russell's Revenge: A Problem for Bivalent Fregean Theories of Descriptions.Jan Heylen - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (4):636-652.

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