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Title: Ordering semantics for incomplete descriptions
Author: Holst, Mirja Annalena
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis examines David Lewis's short sketch of an ordering semantics for incomplete descriptions, and develops on its basis what I hope to be an efficient semantic theory for definite descriptions. Definite descriptions are a central topic of debate in the Philosophy of Language ever since Bertrand Russell proposed his famous theory of definite descriptions. His theory has been of continued interest over the whole past century especially because it solves a huge number of puzzles which are relevant to various areas in Philosophy. However, the presence of incomplete descriptions in ordinary language poses a serious problem for the theory. Various accounts of incomplete descriptions have been developed to solve the problem, but none of these accounts seems to provide an entirely satisfactory answer. Lewis offered a short sketch of an ordering semantics for incomplete descriptions which is based on salience orderings of objects, and which is analogous to his famous ordering semantics for counterfactuals. His account of incomplete descriptions seems to share the advantages of Russell's theory, and to avoid the problems that arise for it. But in spite of its initial virtues, it is only little-known. My aim in this thesis is to give a precise outline of his semantics, to refine it, to generalise it, to further motivate it, to discuss its central notion of salience, and to defend it against possible objections, and thereby to develop it into an efficient semantic theory for definite descriptions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available