versión On-line ISSN 1851-9636
ORLANDO, Eleonora. Introduction: Referential descriptions: for and against. Anal. filos. [online]. 2009, vol.29, n.2, pp. 141-142. ISSN 1851-9636.
In this introduction I start by presenting and examining the main positions on the current debate concerning the semantic analysis of sentences containing definite descriptions. As is known, the debate in question has started off with Russell's proposal (Russell 1905), which has been initially criticized by both Strawson (1950) and Donnellan (1966). Nowadays, waters are divided on this issue: some philosophers, representing the so-called univocality approach (Kripke 1977, Neale 1990), defend Russell's original analysis, according to which all definite descriptions are quantificational expressions, whereas there are others who, following Strawson´s and Donnellan´s objections, consider that at least some descriptions are genuine singular terms and hence have referential meanings. Among the defendants of the last approach, known as the ambiguity theory, we can find Michael Devitt (1981, 2004, 2007a, 2007b). In the second part of the paper, I then survey Devitt's stance on some traditional arguments for the ambiguity theory -mainly, the arguments from misdescription, incompleteness, opacity, and anaphora-, and finally I consider the new ones that he has put forward in favor of the existence of referential descriptions: the argument from regularity, the one based on the comparison with demonstratives, and the argument based on weak rigidity.
Palabras clave : Definite description; Quantificational or attributive vs. Referential meanings; The semantics-pragmatics divide.