Descriptions and Beyond

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Oxford University Press, 2004 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 655 pages
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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 indefinites. 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, indefinites and dynamic syntax/semantics, five 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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Contents

Incomplete Descriptions
7
Descriptions and Situations
15
The Case of Incomplete
41
This That and The Other
68
The ReferentialAttributive Distinction
183
Points of Reference
189
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
230
Descriptive Indexicals and Indexical Descriptions
261
The Proper Form of Semantics
390
On a Unitary Semantical Analysis for Definite and Indefinite Descriptions
420
Anaphoric Pronouns and Descriptions Indefinites and Dynamic
437
Semantics or Pragmatics?
455
Grounding Dynamic Semantics
484
Pronouns as Definites
503
Dynamic Definite Descriptions Implicit Arguments and Familiarity
544
Indefinites and Scope Choice
558

The Case for Referential Descriptions
280
Presupposition and TruthValue Gaps
307
Would You Believe It? The King of France is Back
315
Descriptions Linguistic TopicComment and Negative Existentials
342
NRepresentation of Definites and Indefinites in Semantic Theory
361
Referring Descriptions
369
Names and Descriptions
585
Descriptive Descriptive Names
591
Descriptively Introduced Names
613
References
630
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Marga Reimer is in the Department of Philosophy, University of Arizona. Anne Bezuidenhout is in the Department of Philosophy, University of South Carolina.

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