In 1905, Bertrand Russell argued that certain logical puzzles are solved if definite descriptions are treated as quantified expressions rather than referential expression, as Frege had thought. Since then, philosophers and, more recently, linguists have debated the relevance of this paradigm to the study of the semantics of natural language. In Descriptions, Stephen Neale provides the first sustained defense and extension of Russell's theory, placing it in the center of a theory of singular and nonsingular descriptive phrases and anaphoric pronouns.
Stephen Neale is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.
"This thoughtful study provides a lucid account of Russell's classical theory of descriptions, and a sophisticated defense of the theory against a variety of challenges. An ambitious work, it serves at once as a lucid introduction to semantic theory and a wide-ranging inquiry into some of its hardest problems, with many surprising, provocative, and carefully argued conclusions. A most impressive achievement."
—Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology