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Language Turned on ItselfThe Semantics and Pragmatics of Metalinguistic Discourse$
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Herman Cappelen and Ernest Lepore

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199231195

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199231195.001.0001

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The Proper Name and the Definite Description Theories

The Proper Name and the Definite Description Theories

(p.98) 9 The Proper Name and the Definite Description Theories
Language Turned on Itself

Herman Cappelen (Contributor Webpage)

Ernie Lepore (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the Proper Name and Definite Description Theories. According to Quine and Tarski, quotations lack semantic structure (their position is often misleadingly called the “Proper Name Theory”.) According to (other passages by) Quine and Tarski, and also Geach, quotations are structured definite descriptions. The Definite Description Theory fails for reasons very similar to those that undermine the Proper Name Theory. It is argued that quotation appears to provide a counter-example to Neale's NC theory: Every meaningful noun phrase (NP) in natural language is either a semantically unstructured, referring expression (singular term) or else a semantically structured, restricted quantifier. Quotation expressions don't fit easily into either of the two categories Neale claims that all noun phrases belong to (and quotation expressions are, at least sometimes, noun phrases). The versions of the Proper Name and Description Theories discussed in this chapter were at the centre of the semantics for quotation until Davidson's paper “Quotation”. Since then there have been few, if any, attempts to resurrect these theories.

Keywords:   quotations, Tarski, Quine, Geach, Proper Name Theory, NC Theory, Neale, Davidson, Definite Description Theory, semantics

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