Chapter

Definite Descriptions II: The Referential/Attributive Distinction

Kent Bach

in Thought and Reference

Published in print February 1994 | ISBN: 9780198240778
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680267 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198240778.003.0007

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Definite Descriptions II: The Referential/Attributive Distinction

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If Russell's theory of descriptions concerned their use and not just their meaning, it could account only for attributive uses of complete definite descriptions, where what is asserted is a uniqueness proposition. But it is not a theory of their use, contrary to what the various objections to it implicitly assume. In the course of defending it against these objections, it was shown how it could be supplemented with a pragmatic account of referential uses. This chapter develops that account in detail, but not before examining how Donnellan formulated the referential/attributive distinction originally.

Keywords: Russell; theory of descriptions; Donnellan; attributive uses; referential uses

Chapter.  9426 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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