By Paul Elbourne
This booklet argues that yes descriptions ('the table', 'the King of France') check with contributors, as Gottlob Frege claimed. This it seems that easy end flies within the face of philosophical orthodoxy, which contains Bertrand Russell's thought that certain descriptions are units of quantification. Paul Elbourne provides the 1st fully-argued defence of the Fregean view. He builds an specific fragment of English utilizing a model of state of affairs semantics. He makes use of intrinsic facets of his procedure to account for the presupposition projection behaviour of sure descriptions, various modal houses, and the matter of incompleteness. whilst, he attracts on an surprisingly wide variety of linguistic and philosophical literature, from early paintings by way of Frege, Peano, and Russell to the newest findings in linguistics, philosophy of language, and psycholinguistics. His penultimate bankruptcy addresses the semantics of pronouns and provides a brand new and extra radical model of his past thesis that they too are Fregean yes descriptions.
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Additional resources for Definite Descriptions
5. Situation Binding I s /i For all indices i and assignments g , ς i · g = Îs . · g (s ). 6. Îs . · gs /i (s )(s ). Here is brief taster. The denotation of Mary cannot be Mary any more, but must be Mary or a counterpart of Mary. But what is the object, if any, denoted by the metalanguage ‘Mary or a counterpart of Mary’ in the last sentence? We could perhaps suppose that Mary meant ‘a counterpart of Mary’, given that Mary will be a counterpart of herself (Lewis 1968: 114). But that looks like it would convert proper names into indeﬁnites, which would have deleterious consequences for parts of the grammar that distinguish between deﬁnites and indeﬁnites and place names on one side and normal indeﬁnite descriptions on the other.
This boils down to the proviso that Mary does not necessarily know that the man whom she believes to sing is also Orin’s brother; that identiﬁcation is provided by the speaker. So the sentence, with the indexing in (45), can be paraphrased, ‘Mary believes, of Orin’s brother, that he sings (but she doesn’t necessarily know that he’s Orin’s brother)’. It seems pretty clear that (44), as spoken by Orin Percus, can indeed mean this. This is what would traditionally be called a de re reading of my brother.
Here is another possible indexing: (47) [Î1 Mary thinks s1 [Î2 my brother s2 sings s2 ]] This gives us the truth conditions in (48), which again are truth conditions that the example can plausibly have: (48) All worlds w compatible with Mary’s thoughts in w 0 are such that the brother of Orin in w sings in w. This is what would traditionally be called a de dicto interpretation of my brother. Orin need not actually have a brother in order for this reading to be true. Things are very diﬀerent, however, when we come to the following indexing: (49) [Î1 Mary thinks s1 [Î2 my brother s2 sings s1 ]] This indexing gives us the truth conditions in (50): (50) All worlds w compatible with Mary’s thoughts in w0 are such that the brother of Orin in w sings in w 0 .