Proper Names I: The Nominal Description Theory

Kent Bach

in Thought and Reference

Published in print February 1994 | ISBN: 9780198240778
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680267 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Proper Names I: The Nominal Description Theory

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No doctrines in 20th-century philosophy have met with more unwarranted abuse than Russell's theory of descriptions and his description theory of ordinary proper names. Chapter 5 addressed the main objections to his view that definite descriptions, despite grammatical appearances, function semantically not as logical subject expressions but as (disguised) quantifier phrases. It argued that the underlying problem with these objections is their systematic confusion of pragmatics with semantics: in so far as Russell's theory is understood to concern only the meaning of sentences containing descriptions, it is immune to these objections. This chapter takes up his view that proper names are disguised or ‘truncated’ descriptions. It will not defend his version of the description theory, which suffers from some serious problems exposed by Kripke. Instead, it will develop a different version, which Russell hints at but never actually endorses; this is defended against Kripke's objections.

Keywords: Russell; theory of descriptions; Kripke; proper names; ordinary proper names

Chapter.  8169 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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