Descriptions and Beyond

Descriptions and Beyond

by Marga Reimer
     
 

In 1905, Bertrand Russell published 'On Denoting' in which he proposed and defended a quantificational account of definite descriptions. Forty-five years later, in 'On Referring', Peter Strawson claimed that Russell was mistaken: definite descriptions do not function as quantifiers but (paradigmatically) as referring expressions. Ever since, scores of theorists have… See more details below

Overview

In 1905, Bertrand Russell published 'On Denoting' in which he proposed and defended a quantificational account of definite descriptions. Forty-five years later, in 'On Referring', Peter Strawson claimed that Russell was mistaken: definite descriptions do not function as quantifiers but (paradigmatically) as referring expressions. Ever since, scores of theorists have attempted to adjudicate this debate. Others have gone beyond the question of the proper analysis of definite descriptions, focusing instead on the complex relations between definites, indefinites, and pronouns. These relations are often examined with attention to the phenomena of scope and anaphora.

This collection assembles nineteen new papers on definite descriptions and related topics. The contributors include both philosophers and linguists, many of whom have been active participants in the various debates concerning descriptions. The volume contains a brief general introduction and is divided into six sections, each of which is accompanied by a detailed introduction of its own. Several of the sections concern issues associated with the Russell/Strawson debate. These include the sections on incomplete descriptions, the referential/attributive distinction, and presupposition and truth value gaps. There is also a section on the representation of definites and indefinites in semantic theory, containing papers that reject certain core assumptions of the Russellian paradigm. Linguists interested in definites have traditionally been concerned with how such expressions interact with other expressions, including pronouns and indefinities. They have explored, and continue to explore, these interactions through the complex phenomena of scope and anaphora. In the section dealing with anaphoric pronouns and descriptions, a number of linguists propose and defend their views on these and related issues. Finally, there is a section that concerns the relation between proper names and descriptions and, more particularly, the idea that some names, those introduced into the language by description, are semantically equivalent to definite descriptions.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199270521
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
06/15/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
668
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents

1Descriptions and situations15
2An abuse of context in semantics : the case of incomplete definite descriptions41
3This, that, and the other68
4Descriptions : points of reference189
5The good, the bad, and the ugly230
6Descriptive indexicals and indexical descriptions261
7The case of referential descriptions280
8Would you believe it? : the King of France is back!315
9Descriptions, linguistic topic/comment, and negative existentials342
10Referring descriptions369
11The proper form of semantics390
12On a unitary semantical analysis for definite and indefinite descriptions420
13Indefinites and anaphoric dependence : a case of dynamic semantics or pragmatics?455
14Grounding dynamic semantics484
15Pronouns as definites503
16Dynamic definite descriptions, implicit arguments, and familiarity544
17Indefinites and scope choice558
18Descriptive descriptive names591
19Descriptively introduced names613

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