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Russell's Logical Atomism$
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David Bostock

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199651443

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199651443.001.0001

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On Denoting

On Denoting

(p.31) 3 On Denoting
Russell's Logical Atomism

David Bostock

Oxford University Press

The chapter outlines Russell’s early theory of denoting in 1903, and the reasons why it should be abandoned. The new theory of 1905 contains objections to the rival views of definite descriptions due to Meinong and to Frege, and these are endorsed. (But there is no full discussion of what Russell saw as his main argument, using the example of ‘Gray’s Elegy’.) Russell’s new theory does solve the puzzles that he mentions, at least for definite descriptions, but since the puzzles seem to apply also to names the solution is only partial at this stage. In this article Russell was concerned with our ordinary language, which leaves him open to the kind of objections raised by Strawson (1950). But in later developments he moves from language to thought, and then to a supposedly ‘perfect’ language.

Keywords:   denoting, definite descriptions, Meinong, Frege, the Gray’s Elegy argument, Strawson, language vs. thought, a perfect language

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