By Marga Reimer, Anne Bezuidenhout
Marga Reimer and Anne Bezuidenhout current a suite of brand-new essays on vital themes on the intersection of philosophy and linguistics. Written by way of a stellar line-up of members drawn from either disciplines, the papers will likewise allure a large readership of execs and scholars from both sides.
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Extra resources for Descriptions and Beyond
Another solution to the indeterminacy problem has been put forward in the literature. It consists in biting the bullet and accepting the indeterminate nature of the contextual completion (W. Blackburn 1988; SchiVer 1997). It is a fact that, in a normal situation of utterance, there will often be a collection of potential and equally legitimate completers for a given incomplete description. Insofar as the speaker does not have one of them in mind to the exclusion of the others, the proposition expressed by the utterance, ‘The F is G’, will be somewhat indeterminate; but this does not prevent us from ascribing deWnite truth conditions to it, using supervaluation techniques.
Among its possible readings there is the following: every professor Xunked all of his/her students. Here each professor x determines a 11 As this brief discussion shows, a simple sentence such as (3) has a number of possible interpretations. One may or may not refer to the denotatum; and one may or may not refer to the situation with respect to which the description is to be evaluated. In the generic reading of the description in (3) we do not refer but quantify over situations; in the referential reading we refer to both the situation and the denotatum which features in it; in the attributive reading, we do not refer to the denotatum, but we may or may not refer to the situation with respect to which the description is to be evaluated.
This is OK if the complication is necessary to achieve a uniform analysis, but in the present case the complication seems to me unnecessary. If we acknowledge the phenomenon of implicit quantiWcation, as we clearly should, then we can use straight situational variables and represent (4) as follows. [Every x: professors (x)] < Every s0 : s 0 ¼ f (x) > [Every y: students0 ( y)] (Xunked (x, y)) The situational variable associated with the noun ‘student’ is bound by the implicit quantiWer ‘every s 0 : s 0 ¼ f (x)’, which itself contains an occurrence of the objectual variable ‘x’ bound by the initial quantiWer ‘every x: professors (x)’.