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On a unitary semantical analysis for definite and indefinite descriptions

In Marga Reimer & Anne Bezuidenhout (eds.), Descriptions and Beyond. Oxford University Press. pp. 420-437 (2004)

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  1. Coalescent Theories and Divergent Paraphrases: Definites, Non-Extensional Contexts, and Familiarity.Francesco Pupa - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):4841-4862.
    A recent challenge to Russell’s theory of definite description centers upon the divergent behavior of definites and their Russellian paraphrases in non-extensional contexts. Russellians can meet this challenge, I argue, by incorporating the familiarity theory of definiteness into Russell’s theory. The synthesis of these two seemingly incompatible theories produces a conceptually consistent and empirically powerful framework. As I show, the coalescence of Russellianism and the familiarity theory of definiteness stands as a legitimate alternative to both Traditional Russellianism and alternative semantic (...)
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  • Descriptions, Ambiguity, and Representationalist Theories of Interpretation.Philipp Koralus - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (2):275-290.
    Abstract Theories of descriptions tend to involve commitments about the ambiguity of descriptions. For example, sentences containing descriptions are widely taken to be ambiguous between de re , de dicto , and intermediate interpretations and are sometimes thought to be ambiguous between the former and directly referential interpretations. I provide arguments to suggest that none of these interpretations are due to ambiguities (or indexicality). On the other hand, I argue that descriptions are ambiguous between the above family of interpretations and (...)
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  • Definite Descriptions Without Uniqueness: A Reply to Abbott. [REVIEW]Zoltán G. Szabó - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 114 (3):279 - 291.
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  • A Reply to Szabó’s “Descriptions and Uniqueness”.Barbara Abbott - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 113 (3):223 - 231.
    Szabó follows Heim in viewing familiarity, rather than uniqueness, as the essence of the definite article, but attempts to derive both familiarity and uniqueness implications pragmatically, assigning a single semantic interpretation to both the definite and indefinite articles. I argue that if there is no semantic distinction between the articles, then there is no way to derive these differences between them pragmatically.
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  • Desires, Descriptivism, and Reference Failure.Alexander Hughes - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (1):279-296.
    I argue that mental descriptivism cannot be reasonably thought superior to rival theories on the grounds that it can (while they cannot) provide an elegant account of reference failure. Descriptivism about the particular-directed intentionality of our mental states fails when applied to desires. Consider, for an example, the desire that Satan not tempt me. On the descriptivist account, it looks like my desire would be fulfilled in conditions in which there exists exactly one thing satisfying some description only Satan satisfies (...)
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  • Ghosts, Murderers, and the Semantics of Descriptions.Anders Johan Schoubye - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):496-533.
    It is widely agreed that sentences containing a non-denoting description embedded in the scope of a propositional attitude verb have true de dicto interpretations, and Russell's (1905) analysis of definite descriptions is often praised for its simple analysis of such cases, cf. e.g. Neale (1990). However, several people, incl. Elbourne (2005, 2009), Heim (1991), and Kripke (2005), have contested this by arguing that Russell's analysis yields incorrect predictions in non-doxastic attitude contexts. Heim and Elbourne have subsequently argued that once certain (...)
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  • The but Not All: A Partitive Account of Plural Definite Descriptions.Berit Brogaard - 2007 - Mind and Language 22 (4):402–426.
    A number of authors in favor of a unitary account of singular descriptions have alleged that the unitary account can be extrapolated to account for plural definite descriptions. In this paper I take a closer look at this suggestion. I argue that while the unitary account is clearly onto something right, it is in the end empirically inadequate. At the end of the paper I offer a new partitive account of plural definite descriptions that avoids the problems with both the (...)
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  • Generalized Update Semantics.Simon Goldstein - 2019 - Mind 128 (511):795-835.
    This paper explores the relationship between dynamic and truth conditional semantics for epistemic modals. It provides a generalization of a standard dynamic update semantics for modals. This new semantics derives a Kripke semantics for modals and a standard dynamic semantics for modals as special cases. The semantics allows for new characterizations of a variety of principles in modal logic, including the inconsistency of ‘p and might not p’. Finally, the semantics provides a construction procedure for transforming any truth conditional semantics (...)
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  • Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung 9.Emar Maier, Corien Bary & Janneke Huitink (eds.) - 2005 - Nijmegen Centre for Semantics.
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  • Futher Reflections on Semantic Minimalism: Reply to Wedgwood.Alessandro Capone - 2013 - In Perspectives on Pragmatics and Philosophy. Springer. pp. 437-474..
    semantic minimalism and moderte contextualism.
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  • Definite Descriptions and the Argument From Inference.Wojciech Rostworowski - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (4):1099-1109.
    This article discusses the “Argument from Inference” raised against the view that definite descriptions are semantically referring expressions. According to this argument, the indicated view is inadequate since it evaluates some invalid inferences with definite descriptions as “valid” and vice versa. I argue that the Argument from Inference is basically wrong. Firstly, it is crucially based on the assumption that a proponent of the view that definite descriptions are referring expressions conceives them as directly referring terms, i.e., the terms which (...)
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  • Descriptions.Peter Ludlow - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Descriptions.P. Elbourne - 2007 - In Thaddeus Metz (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Quantification and Contributing Objects to Thoughts.Michael Glanzberg - 2008 - Noûs 42 (1):207 - 231.
    In this paper, I shall explore a determiner in natural language which is ambivalent as to whether it should be classified as quantificational or objectdenoting: the determiner both. Both in many ways appears to be a paradigmatic quantifier; and yet, I shall argue, it can be interpreted as having an individual—an object—as semantic value. To show the significance of this, I shall discuss two ways of thinking about quantifiers. We often think about quantifiers via intuitions about kinds of thoughts. Certain (...)
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  • False but Slow: Evaluating Statements with Non-Referring Definites.Florian Schwarz - 2015 - Journal of Semantics:ffu019.
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  • Incomplete Descriptions, Incomplete Quantified Expressions (Part of the Dissertation Portfolio Modality, Names and Descriptions).Zsófia Zvolenszky - 2007 - Dissertation, New York University
    This paper offers a unified, quantificational treatment of incomplete descriptions like ‘the table’. An incomplete quantified expression like ‘every bottle’ (as in “Every bottle is empty”) can feature in true utterances despite the fact that the world contains nonempty bottles. Positing a contextual restriction on the bottles being talked about is a straightforward solution. It is argued that the same strategy can be extended to incomplete definite descriptions across the board. ncorporating the contextual restrictions into semantics involves meeting a complex (...)
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  • Sharvy's Theory of Definite Descriptions Revisited.Berit Brogaard - 2007 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (2):160–180.
    The paper revisits Sharvy's theory of plural definite descriptions. An alternative account of plural definite descriptions building on the ideas of plural quantification and non-distributive plural predication is developed. Finally, the alternative is extrapolated to account for generic uses of definite descriptions.
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  • Descriptions: An Annotated Bibliography.Berit Brogaard - 2010 - Oxford Annotated Bibliographies Online.
    Descriptions are phrases of the form ‘an F’, ‘the F’, ‘Fs’, ‘the Fs’ and NP's F (e.g. ‘John's mother’). They can be indefinite (e.g., ‘an F’ and ‘Fs’), definite (e.g. ‘the F’ and ‘the Fs’), singular (e.g., ‘an F’, ‘the F’) or plural (e.g., ‘the Fs’, ‘Fs’). In English plural indefinite descriptions lack an article and are for that reason also known as ‘bare plurals’. How to account for the semantics and pragmatics of descriptions has been one of the central (...)
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  • The Loss of Uniqueness.Szabó Zoltán Gendler - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):1185 - 1222.
    Philosophers and linguists alike tend to call a semantic theory ‘Russellian’ just in case it assigns to sentences in which definite descriptions occur the truth-conditions Russell did in ‘On Denoting’. This is unfortunate; not all aspects of those particular truth-conditions do explanatory work in Russell's writings. As far as the semantics of descriptions is concerned, the key insights of ‘On Denoting’ are that definite descriptions are not uniformly referring expressions, and that they are scope-bearing elements. Anyone who accepts these two (...)
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  • What Russell Couldn't Describe.Fredrik Haraldsen - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (3):459-473.
    The characteristic property of definite descriptions in natural language is commonly assumed to be their uniqueness requirement, although there is disagreement with respect to how occurrences should be interpreted, for instance with regard to the well-known restriction problem. I offer a novel argument against characterizing definite expressions in terms of uniqueness. If a singular definite description ?the F? implies that its denotation is the unique satisfier of ?F? (relative to a context) then there are real-life states of affairs that can (...)
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  • On the Russellian Reformation.Francesco Pupa - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (2):247-271.
    Recently, an orthodox Russellian tenet has come under fire from within. In particular, some Russellians now argue that definite descriptions don’t semantically encode uniqueness. Instead, Reformed Russellians, as I call them, hold that definite descriptions are truth-theoretically identical to indefinite ones. On this approach, a definite description’s uniqueness reading becomes a matter of pragmatics, not semantics. These reforms, we’re told, provide both empirical and methodological benefits over and above the prevailing orthodoxy. As I argue, however, the Russellian Reformation contains serious (...)
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  • Against the Russellian Open Future.Anders J. Schoubye & Brian Rabern - 2017 - Mind 126 (504): 1217–1237.
    Todd (2016) proposes an analysis of future-directed sentences, in particular sentences of the form 'will(φ)', that is based on the classic Russellian analysis of definite descriptions. Todd's analysis is supposed to vindicate the claim that the future is metaphysically open while retaining a simple Ockhamist semantics of future contingents and the principles of classical logic, i.e. bivalence and the law of excluded middle. Consequently, an open futurist can straightforwardly retain classical logic without appeal to supervaluations, determinacy operators, or any further (...)
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  • Saving Uniqueness.Massimiliano Vignolo - 2015 - Philosophia 43 (4):1177-1198.
    The purpose of this paper is to present a theory of referential uses of definite descriptions that is alternative to Neale’s theory of Gödelian completions but nonetheless assumes two tenets of Neale’s view: the Russellian analysis of definite descriptions is basically correct, i.e. definite descriptions are quantified NPs and referential uses are not to be explained in terms of the Gricean distinction between what is said and what is meant. The proposition said is the intuitive content of an assertion as (...)
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  • Quantification and Contributing Objects to Thoughts.Michael Glanzberg - 2008 - Philosophical Perspectives 22 (1):207-231.
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