Non-Declarative Sentences and the Theory of Definite Descriptions

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Abstract
This paper shows that Russell’s theory of descriptions gives the wrong se-mantics for definite descriptions occurring in questions and imperatives. Depending on how that theory is applied, it either assigns nonsense to per-fectly meaningful questions and assertions or it assigns meanings that di-verge from the actual semantics of such sentences, even after all pragmatic and contextual variables are allowed for. Given that Russell’s theory is wrong for questions and assertions, it must be wrong for assertoric state-ments; for the semantics of ‘the phi’ obviously doesn’t vary depending on whether it occurs in a question or an assertion or a command.
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Archival date: 2014-04-27
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2014-04-27

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