Article/Publication Details

Definite Descriptions Again: Singular Reference, Quantification and Truth-Evaluation

(Original title: Definite Descriptions Again: Singular Reference, Quantification and Truth-Evaluation)
Organon F, 2009, vol. 16, No 4, pp. 552-568.
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Abstract

The author defends a combination of Strawson’s account of definite descriptions as devices of singular reference par excellence with the Russellian truth-evaluation of utterances of sentences with descriptions. The complex Russellian proposition is, according to the author’s view, introduced by such utterances into communication as a by-product of the instrumental side of an attempt to make a singular statement. This, precisely like the instrumental aspects of similar attempts exploiting names or demonstratives has to be reflected by analysis but should not be confused with the communicative function of utterances. The success of all these attempts depends on the fulfilment of empirical conditions of various types, given by semantics of descriptions, names or demonstratives (unless the relevance of these conditions is neutralized by another identificatory factor dominating in given context). But their communicative function does not consist in claiming that these conditions are fulfilled.

The author agrees with Strawson that the first two conjuncts of the complex Russellian proposition are introduced into communication as presuppositions: but argues in favour of defining presupposition (in pragmatic sense) in normative, rather the intentional terms.

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