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Análisis filosófico

versión On-line ISSN 1851-9636


DEVITT, Michael. Buenos Aires Symposium On Definite Descriptions: Responses. Anal. filos. [online]. 2009, vol.29, n.2, pp.185-192. ISSN 1851-9636.

The present article contains a defense of the thesis that definite descriptions can have referential meanings that include a descriptive component from the following objections contained in the preceding articles: (i) the idea that the thesis at stake cannot adequately account for cases of misdescriptions (Díaz Legaspe), (ii) the claim that referential descriptions should be considered to be purely referential, with no descriptive meaning component whatsoever (Skerk), and (iii) the alleged viability of a pragmatic approach according to which definite descriptions do not have referential meanings but can only be referentially used (Caso). As far as (i) is concerned, it is argued that misdescriptions can be clearly accounted for in pragmatic terms. Against (ii), it is pointed out that sentences of the form 'The/an F is not F' have a contradictory status -they are taken to be contradictory even when the descriptions involved have referential meanings. Finally, regarding (iii), it is argued that, in defending a very audience-directed stance, Caso confuses the epistemic and constitutive dimensions of reference determination, and as a consequence he is committed to an extreme form of linguistic pragmatism according to which the meaning of an expression is constitutively determined by the way in which hearers interpret utterances.

Palabras clave : Referential meaning for descriptions; Singular proposition; Semantic convention; Pragmatic regularity; The semantics-pragmatics distinction.

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