ON ATTRIBUTIVE AND REFERENTIAL USES OF DEFINITE DESCRIPTIONS
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The main topic of this paper is the distinction between attributive and referential uses of definite descriptions. The first influential account of what is the logical form of a proposition expressed by a sentence 'The is ' was proposed by Russell. Donellan noticed later that Russellian account does not apply to all such sentences and drew the distinction in question. First, we have to consider which language units are to be explored - said Donnellan. Speaking of types involves unwelcome generality while speaking of tokens overlooks the role of speaker's intentions. The finest approach then is speaking of uses (according to the characteristics given by Jerzy Pelc). Specific feature which distinguish descriptions used referentially (in a sentence of the form 'The is ') from those used attributively is that the descriptive aspect of the former is not esssential (in contradiction to that of the latter), i.e. the description used referentially can be exchanged for another one (such that it is literally false about the object referred to), and the extension as well as the proposition expressed by the sentence will not change. To explain this effect (which is only described in Donellan's paper) we can adopt and extend Kaplan's view on propositions (originally designed for sentences with demonstratives) to sentences with descriptions used referentially and say that a proposition expressed by such a sentence consists of sense of the description used attributively in predicate and the object itself as a physical thing. This solution does not decide however, whether the distinction is semantic or pragmatic. To give the answer we would need to have precisely marked border between two mentioned disciplines.
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