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.
"The current volume, released just in time for the centenary, shows unequivocally that Russell's analysis remains central to philosophy of language and linguistic semantics: the contributors are all major figures, the quality of the essays is quite high overall, and each essay addresses areas of current research...a glance at the recent literature reveals that interest in the theory of descriptions is as strong as ever. The volume is well organized, the material is often exciting, and the editors have done an impressive job...anyone interested in definite and indefinite descriptions, reference, quantification, pragmatics, anaphora, dynamic binding and descriptive names will want to have this book and devour as much of it as they can."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Number Of Pages: 655
Published: 1st May 2004
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.27 x 15.8 x 3.73
Weight (kg): 1.01