Demonstrative reference and definite descriptions

Philosophical Studies 40 (2):241--257 (1981)
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A distinction is developed between two uses of definite descriptions, the "attributive" and the "referential." the distinction exists even in the same sentence. several criteria are given for making the distinction. it is suggested that both russell's and strawson's theories fail to deal with this distinction, although some of the things russell says about genuine proper names can be said about the referential use of definite descriptions. it is argued that the presupposition or implication that something fits the description, present in both uses, has a different genesis depending upon whether the description is used referentially or attributively. this distinction in use seems not to depend upon any syntactic or semantic ambiguity. it is also suggested that there is a distinction between what is here called "referring" and what russell defines as denoting. definite descriptions may denote something, according to his definition, whether used attributively or referentially



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Howard Wettstein
University of California, Riverside

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References found in this work

Reference and definite descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
What numbers could not be.Paul Benacerraf - 1965 - Philosophical Review 74 (1):47-73.
Speaker’s Reference and Semantic Reference.Saul Kripke - 1977 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2 (1):255-276.
The thought: A logical inquiry.Gottlob Frege - 1956 - Mind 65 (259):289-311.
How to Russell a Frege-Church.David Kaplan - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (19):716-729.

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