Singular Reference: A Descriptivist Perspective

  • Francesco Orilia

Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 113)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Francesco Orilia
    Pages 39-78
  3. Francesco Orilia
    Pages 79-106
  4. Francesco Orilia
    Pages 107-136
  5. Francesco Orilia
    Pages 137-167
  6. Francesco Orilia
    Pages 169-191
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 269-290

About this book


Singular reference to ourselves and the ordinary objects surrounding us is a most crucial philosophical topic, for it looms large in any attempt to understand how language and mind connect to the world. This book explains in detail why in the past philosophers such as Frege, Russell and Reichenbach have favoured a descriptivist approach to this matter and why in more recent times Donnellan, Kripke, Kaplan and others have rather favoured a referentialist standpoint. The now dominant referentialist theories however still have a hard time in addressing propositional attitudes and empty singular terms. Here a way out of this difficulty emerges in an approach that incorporates aspects of the old-fashioned descriptivist views of Frege, Russell and Reichenbach without succumbing to the anti-descriptivist arguments that back up the current referentialist trend. The resulting theory features a novel approach to the semantics and pragmatics of determiner phrases, definite descriptions, proper names and indexicals, all treated in uniform fashion in both their anaphoric and non-anaphoric uses.

This work will be of interest to researchers in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and theoretical linguistics. The wealth of background information and detailed explanations that it provides makes it also accessible to graduate and upper level undergraduates and suitable as a reference book.


Bertrand Russell Contextual Descriptivism Definite descriptions Descriptivism Gottlob Frege Indexicals Meaning Proper names Propositional attitudes Reference Referentialism Singular reference language philosophy of language

Authors and affiliations

  • Francesco Orilia
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipto. di Filosofia e Scienze UmaneUniversità di MacerataMacerataItaly

Bibliographic information