Referentially Used Descriptions: A Reply to Devitt

European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 3 (2):33-48 (2007)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This paper continues an ongoing debate between Michael Devitt and me on referential uses of definite descriptions. He has argued that definite descriptions have referential meanings, and I have argued that they do not. Having previously rebutted the view that referential uses are akin to particularized conversational implicatures, he now he rebuts the view that they are akin to generalized conversational implicatures. I agree that the GCI is not the best model, but I maintain that in exploiting the quantificational meaning of definite descriptions, referential uses involve a different sort of pragmatic regularity. Also, I try to bolster my objection to Devitt’s claim that the word ‘the’ is semantically ambiguous.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 77,985

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles


Added to PP

150 (#88,611)

6 months
6 (#145,888)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Kent Bach
San Francisco State University

Citations of this work

Descriptions and Tests for Polysemy.Andrei Moldovan - 2021 - Axiomathes 31 (3):229-249.
Complex demonstratives and their singular contents.David Braun - 2008 - Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (1):57-99.
Against the argument from convention.Anders J. Schoubye - 2012 - Linguistics and Philosophy 35 (6):515-532.
Definite descriptions and negative existential quantifiers.Paul Elbourne - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (7):1597-1612.

View all 17 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.
On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.
Reference and definite descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
On referring.Peter F. Strawson - 1950 - Mind 59 (235):320-344.
The case for referential descriptions.Michael Devitt - 2004 - In Marga Reimer & Anne Bezuidenhout (eds.), Descriptions and Beyond. Oxford University Press. pp. 234--260.

View all 14 references / Add more references