Article/Publication Details

Descriptive Singular Terms

Organon F, 2018, vol. 25, No 3, pp. 290-315.
Language: English
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In “Descriptive indexicals and indexical descriptions” Nunberg claimed that only indexicals among singular terms may have descriptive uses, i.e. have nonsingular contributions to the propositions they are used to express. In this respect they differ from proper names or definite descriptions. In “Lessons from Descriptive Indexicals”, Sæbø shows that this conjecture is untenable, providing examples of the descriptive uses of both proper names and definite descriptions. This paper offers an account of the descriptive uses of all of the singular terms and provides an alternative to Saebø’s account. Sæbø’s analysis rests on the assumption that the propositional contribution of all singular terms used descriptively is a singular concept. I will argue against this assumption and my proposal will offer a uniform analysis of the descriptive uses of singular terms that is not constrained by it.


definite descriptions, demonstratives, descriptive anaphora, descriptive uses, indexicals, individual concepts, proper names, singular terms

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