Bertrand Russell's theory of definite descriptions sparked an ongoing debate concerning the proper logical and linguistic analysis of definite descriptions. While it is now widely acknowledged that, like the indexical expressions 'I', 'here', and 'now', definite descriptions in natural language are context-sensitive, there is significant disagreement as to the ultimate challenge this context-sensitivity poses to Russell's theory.
This reader is intended both to introduce students to the philosophy of language via the theory of descriptions, and to provide scholars in analytic philosophy with ready access to some of the central contributions in this area. It includes classic works by Russell, Carnap, Strawson, Lambert, Donnellan, Grice, Peacocke, Kripke, Wettstein, Soames, Neale, and Schiffer.
"For philosophy of language classes and seminars that focus on thesemantics and pragmatics of descriptions, this volume provides a verygood set of core readings."
—Mark Crimmins, Department of Philosophy, University of Michigan