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date: 21 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter two kinds of theories of definite descriptions are reviewed: the first is Russell’s famous theory, which holds that the article the conveys unique satisfaction of the descriptive content associated with it. The second kind of theory is one which holds that the conventional import of the definite article is one of familiarity of some type. Following that, this chapter also reviews a number of serious problems for familiarity theories, arguing that those are sufficient to make such theories untenable. Finally, this chapter looks at cases where definite descriptions do convey familiarity, and attempts (not completely successfully) to explain those cases.

Keywords: definite descriptions, uniqueness, familiarity, Russellian uniqueness, familiarity theories of definiteness

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