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5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 2. Descriptions / b. Definite descriptions

[descriptions which seem to pick out a unique item]

21 ideas
Frege considered definite descriptions to be genuine singular terms [Fitting/Mendelsohn on Frege]
Critics say definite descriptions can refer, and may not embody both uniqueness and existence claims [Grayling on Russell]
Definite descriptions fail to refer in three situations, so they aren't essentially referring [Sainsbury on Russell]
The phrase 'a so-and-so' is an 'ambiguous' description'; 'the so-and-so' (singular) is a 'definite' description [Russell]
'The' is a quantifier, like 'every' and 'a', and does not result in denotation [Montague]
A definite description can have a non-referential use [Donnellan]
Definite descriptions are 'attributive' if they say something about x, and 'referential' if they pick x out [Donnellan]
'The x is F' only presumes that x exists; it does not actually entail the existence [Donnellan]
Definite desciptions resemble names, but can't actually be names, if they don't always refer [Bostock]
Because of scope problems, definite descriptions are best treated as quantifiers [Bostock]
Definite descriptions are usually treated like names, and are just like them if they uniquely refer [Bostock]
Definite descriptions don't always pick out one thing, as in denials of existence, or errors [Bostock]
We are only obliged to treat definite descriptions as non-names if only the former have scope [Bostock]
Definite descriptions can be used to refer, but are not semantically referential [Bach]
Definite descriptions may not be referring expressions, since they can fail to refer [Sainsbury]
Definite descriptions are usually rigid in subject, but not in predicate, position [Sainsbury]
We could make a contingent description into a rigid and necessary one by adding 'actual' to it [Jubien]
The denotation of a definite description is flexible, rather than rigid [Burgess]
Definite descriptions, unlike proper names, have a logical structure [Linsky,B]
The four leading theories of definite descriptions are Frege's, Russell's, Evans's, and Prior's [Bealer]
Plural definite descriptions pick out the largest class of things that fit the description [Hossack]