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A detailed interpretation is provided of the ‘Gray's Elegy ’ passage in Russell's ‘On Denoting’. The passage is suffciently obscure that its principal lessons have been independently rediscovered. Russell attempts to demonstrate that the thesis that definite descriptions are singular...
A common objection to Russell's theory of descriptions concerns incomplete definite descriptions: uses of (for example) ‘the book is overdue’ in contexts where there is clearly more than one book. Many contemporary Russellians hold that such utterances will invariably convey a contextually...
Russell had two theories of definite descriptions: one for singular descriptions, another for plural descriptions. We chart its development, in which ‘On Denoting’ plays a part but not the part one might expect, before explaining why it eventually fails. We go on to consider many-valued...
Part 1 sets out the logical/semantical background to ‘On Denoting’, including an exposition of Russell's views in Principles of Mathematics , the role and justification of Frege's notorious Axiom V, and speculation about how the search for a solution to the Contradiction might have motivated...
Peter Geach has said that Russell's use of ‘propositional function’ is ‘hopelessly confused and inconsistent’. Geach is right, and attempts to say what exactly a Russellian propositional function is, or is supposed to be, are bound to end in frustration. Nevertheless, it may be worthwhile...
Despite the renown of ‘On Denoting’, much criticism has ignored or misconstrued Russell's treatment of scope, particularly in intensional, but also in extensional contexts. This has been rectified by more recent commentators, yet it remains largely unnoticed that the examples Russell gives of...
Definite descriptions occurring within the scopes of psychological verbs provide more puzzles than are traditionally acknowledged. This article presents one puzzle that is particularly intriguing.
Philosophers and linguists alike tend to call a semantic theory ‘Russellian’ just in case it assigns to sentences in which definite descriptions occur the truth-conditions Russell did in ‘On Denoting’. This is unfortunate; not all aspects of those particular truth-conditions do...
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