Philosophical Studies Series

Singular Reference: A Descriptivist Perspective

Authors: Orilia, Francesco

  • Offers a detailed presentation of singular reference
  • Examines the pros and cons of the two main rival approaches, descriptivism and referentialism, to provide a broad survey of this topic
  • Serves as both an introduction for the non-expert and a useful synopsis for the expert
  • Proposes an original descriptivist account of singular reference capable of answering to all the objections that the referentialists have put forward against descriptivism
  • Provides a unified account of anaphoric and indexical uses of pronouns
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eBook $209.00
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  • ISBN 978-90-481-3312-3
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  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $269.00
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  • ISBN 978-90-481-3311-6
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  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $269.00
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  • ISBN 978-94-007-3098-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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.

About the authors

Francesco Orilia studied philosophy at the university of Palermo (M.A., 1979) and then, after being granted a Fulbright grant, at Indiana University, Bloomington (Ph.D., 1986), where he was a student of Hector-Neri Castañeda, Nino B. Cocchiarella and J. M. Dunn. From 1987 to 1994 he was a researcher in artificial intelligence at the Olivetti research lab in Pisa and from July 1994 to July 1997 a researcher/lecturer in theoretical philosophy at the University of Cagliari. Since August 1997 he has been with the university of Macerata where he is currently professor of philosophy of language. He also had visiting positions at Indiana University, Bloomington (1986), University of Paris IV (2005), University of Iowa at Iowa City (2006), Cambridge University (2008). In the period 2000-2003 he was a member of the selection committee of the E. W. Beth Dissertation Prize for logic, language, and information and he is now in the editorial board of Metaphysica. He has written or co-edited a few books and published many papers in international journals such as Dialectica, Journal of Philosophical Logic, Journal of Symbolic Logic, Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, Minds and Machines, Synthese, Topoi.

Reviews

"This book advances a contextualist descriptivist account of singular reference, along the lines of "token-reflexive" and "causal-descriptivist" proposals already in the literature. The book is very clear, economical and well-structured; the view, which Orilia defends from criticisms with clear-headed arguments, is certainly one worth having as consistently articulated here in the theoretical landscape; and the author argues for the comparative strength vis-à-vis the different explanatory burdens of such an account in a very compelling way."
Prof. Manuel Garcia-Carpintero, Department of Logic, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Barcelona

"The foundation of any philosophy of language is its account of singular reference. All attempts to understand how language and mind connect to the world must focus on singular reference to ourselves and to the ordinary objects that surround us. Philosophers such as Frege, Russell and Reichenbach offered descriptivist approaches to singular reference. But the alternative referentialist approaches of Donnellan, Kripke, Kaplan and others have won wide support. This book investigates the motivations and resources available to both approaches and reveals that referentialist theories remain inadequate to the problems that arise in connection with propositional attitudes and empty singular terms. The book proposes a new theory which incorporates central aspects of a descriptivist approach while avoiding the errors pointed out by referentialists. The theory offers a uniform treatment of the semantics and pragmatics of (anaphoric and non-anaphoric uses of) determiner phrases, definite descriptions, proper names and indexicals. This work will be of interest to researchers in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and theoretical linguistics. The wealth of information provided in it and its detailed explanations make the book an ideal resource accessible to graduates and upper level undergraduates."
Professor G. Landini, Department of Philosophy, University of Iowa


Table of contents (8 chapters)

  • Introduction: Referentialism vs. Descriptivism

    Orilia, Francesco

    Pages 1-37

  • Background Notions

    Orilia, Francesco

    Pages 39-78

  • Why Descriptivism Was So Successful

    Orilia, Francesco

    Pages 79-106

  • Why Referentialism Is So Successful

    Orilia, Francesco

    Pages 107-136

  • Definite Descriptions and Proper Names

    Orilia, Francesco

    Pages 137-167

Buy this book

eBook $209.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-90-481-3312-3
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $269.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-90-481-3311-6
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $269.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-94-007-3098-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Singular Reference: A Descriptivist Perspective
Authors
Series Title
Philosophical Studies Series
Series Volume
113
Copyright
2010
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
eBook ISBN
978-90-481-3312-3
DOI
10.1007/978-90-481-3312-3
Hardcover ISBN
978-90-481-3311-6
Softcover ISBN
978-94-007-3098-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIV, 290
Topics