On Whether ‘God’, if not a Proper Name, Can Introduce a Subject of Predication

  • Michael Durrant
Part of the New Studies in the Philosophy of Religion book series (NSPR)


Having rejected the contention that ‘God’ is a proper name such that we have a prima facie case for saying that sentences of the form ‘God is F’ express propositions of a subject-predicate kind, it will be contended that it by no means follows that ‘God’ cannot stand as a logical subject (introduce a subject of predication), for whilst it is a sufficient condition of ‘A’ potentially occurring as introducing a subject of predication that ‘A’ is a proper name, it is not a necessary one; some definite descriptions (e.g.) can so occur. It might be pressed that there is a prima facie case for saying that ‘God’ is an abbreviated definite description of the form ‘The one and only F’. It might further be claimed that, despite certain difficulties1, ‘God’ is an abbreviated definite description of the form ‘The God of— ’, where the blank can be filled out with a proper name so that we have as examples ‘The God of Israel’ and ‘The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’. These two accounts do not lead to inconsistency; it might be true both that A is the one and only God and that A is the God of Israel. Professor Strawson holds, contra Russell, that definite descriptions of the latter form can certainly stand as introducing subjects of predication,i.e. stand as logical subjects, though not those of the former.


General Term Singular Term Definite Description Identificatory Role Prima Facie Case 
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Notes and References

  1. P. F. Strawson, Individuals (Methuen & Co. Ltd, London, 1959) p. 16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Reprinted in Anthony Flew (ed.), Essays in Conceptual Analysis (Macmillan & Co., London, 1963) p. 30.Google Scholar
  3. Cf. P. F. Strawson, ‘Singular Terms and Predication’ reprinted in his collection Logico-Linguistic Papers (Methuen & Co. Ltd, London, 1971) p. 59.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael Durrant 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Durrant
    • 1
  1. 1.University CollegeCardiffUK

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