Definite Descriptions and Quantifier Scope: Some Mates Cases Reconsidered

European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 3 (2):133-158 (2007)
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This paper reexamines some examples, discussed by Mates and others, of sentences containing both definite descriptions and quantifiers. It has frequently been claimed that these sentences provide evidence for the view that definite descriptions themselves are quantifiers. The main goal of this paper is to argue this is not so. Though the examples are compatible with quantificational approaches to definite descriptions, they are also compatible with views that treat definite descriptions as basically scopeless. They thus provide no reason to see definite descriptions as quantifiers. Even so, this paper shows that the examples do raise a surprising range of complex issues about how quantifier scope works, and where it occurs. Thus, a clear picture of how these examples work will help us to understand better where definite descriptions fit into the larger picture of quantifiers and related phenomena.



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Michael Glanzberg
Rutgers University - New Brunswick

Citations of this work

Genericity sans Gen.John Collins - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (1):34-64.
Definiteness and determinacy.Elizabeth Coppock & David Beaver - 2015 - Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (5):377-435.
The existence entailments of definite descriptions.Paul Elbourne - 2010 - Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (1):1-10.

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Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation.Donald Davidson - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
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On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 2005 - Mind 114 (456):873 - 887.
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Generalized quantifiers and natural language.John Barwise & Robin Cooper - 1981 - Linguistics and Philosophy 4 (2):159--219.

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