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The Reference Book$
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John Hawthorne and David Manley

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693672

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693672.001.0001

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What ‘the’?

What ‘the’?

(p.155) 5 What ‘the’?
The Reference Book

John Hawthorne

David Manley

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 is about definite descriptions. It begins with the observation that definites require specific restriction as a matter of convention, and explores the consequences of this fact for some major theories of definite descriptions, including Russellianism and neo-Fregeanism. The authors make a tentative case for a view on which definites are much like specific indefinites: they are existential quantifier phrases whose domain is presupposed to be restricted to a single individual (or plurality). That is, they are ‘specific existentials’, differing from specific indefinites only in their presuppositional profile.

Keywords:   definite descriptions, uniqueness, familiarity, Russellianism, Gödelian restrictions, referential descriptions, incomplete descriptions, referential/attributive distinction, neo-Fregeanism

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