Chapter

What ‘the’?

John Hawthorne and David Manley

in The Reference Book

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693672
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739002 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693672.003.0005
What ‘the’?

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Chapter 5 is about definite descriptions. It begins with the observation that definites require specific restriction as a matter of convention, and explores the consequences of this fact for some major theories of definite descriptions, including Russellianism and neo-Fregeanism. The authors make a tentative case for a view on which definites are much like specific indefinites: they are existential quantifier phrases whose domain is presupposed to be restricted to a single individual (or plurality). That is, they are ‘specific existentials’, differing from specific indefinites only in their presuppositional profile.

Keywords: definite descriptions; uniqueness; familiarity; Russellianism; Gödelian restrictions; referential descriptions; incomplete descriptions; referential/attributive distinction; neo-Fregeanism

Chapter.  25125 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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