more from Sarah Sawyer

Single Idea 18947

[catalogued under 5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 2. Descriptions / c. Theory of definite descriptions]

Full Idea

If it were possible for a definite description to be empty - not in the sense of there being no object that satisfies it, but of there being no set of properties it refers to - the problem of empty names would not have been solved.

Gist of Idea

Definites descriptions don't solve the empty names problem, because the properties may not exist


Sarah Sawyer (Empty Names [2012], 5)

Book Reference

'Routledge Companion to Phil of Language', ed/tr. Russell/Graff Faria [Routledge 2015], p.160

A Reaction

Swoyer is thinking of properties like 'is a unicorn', which are clearly just as vulnerable to being empty as 'the unicorn' was. It seems unlikely that 'horse', 'white' and 'horn' would be empty.