Russell's Theory of Descriptions and the Definite Article

Marián Zouhar


Is the definite article analyzed by Russell’s Theory of Definite Descriptions identical to the definite article as ordinarily used in usual singular contexts? The answer proposed in the paper is “Yes”. The aim of the paper is to demonstrate that Russell’s theory presents a satisfactory analysis of sentences involving definite descriptions in singular. It is claimed that the theory applies on logical form of sentences, rather than on truth conditions of utterances. Further, the theory of descriptions is to be made independent from the choice of a particular universe bound variables occuring in formal transcriptions of such sentences are supposed to range over. Given this assumption, the theory cannot be blamed for wrong predictions with respect to, e.g., incomplete definite descriptions. A uniform analysis of various occurrences of definite descriptions is suggested.

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Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097