A more general theory of definite descriptions

Philosophical Review 89 (4):607-624 (1980)

A unified theory is offered to account for three types of definite descriptions: with singular, plural, & mass predicates, & to provide an account for the word the in descriptions. It is noted that B. Russell's analysis ("On Denoting," Mind, 1905, 14, 479-493) failed to account for plural & mass descriptions. The proposed theory differs from Russell's only by the substitution of the notation (less than or equal to) for Russell's =. It is suggested that for every predicate G there is an appropriate "part of" or "some of" relation on the extension of G. For singular predicates, (less than or equal to) becomes just the identity relation =. The predicate G is formulated as "the G" & analyzed with the formula ((schwa)x) (Gx . (Gy (includes) yy (less than or equal to) x)), which accounts for all cases of definite descriptions. It is suggested that the primary use of the is not to indicate uniqueness, but totality. C. Ornatowski
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DOI 10.2307/2184738
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