Incomplete Descriptions, Incomplete Quantified Expressions (Part of the dissertation portfolio Modality, Names and Descriptions)

Dissertation, New York University (2007)
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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 array of desiderata, yet the apparently simpler pragmatic alternative faces severe problems and is therefore a nonstarter.
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Relevance: Communication and Cognition.Sperber, Dan & Wilson, Deirdre

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