Russell's Theory on Definite Description

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This essay is written to introduce the Russell’s Theory on Definite Description. The main content of this essay including: the definition of definite description, the puzzles concerning definite description, Russell’s Theory on Definite Description, how this theory solves the puzzles, Strawson’s objection to this theory, my evaluation on the convincingness of Strawson’s objection and my evaluation on the convincingness of Russell’s Theory of Definite Description. What is a definite description? A definite description is a phrase which is commonly written in the form ‘the so-and-so’ in which “so-and-so” is a singular noun. An Example of definite descriptions is “the President of Russia”. Apart from “the-so-and-so”, definite descriptions can also take the form of possessives such as “Mr. Smith’s daughter”. What Puzzles does Russell claims his theory can be solved? It is easy for us at first to see definite description as a device of singular term. In other words, we may believe that the role of definite description is to refer to a particular object. Take the following proposition as an example of this belief “the current President of Russia was bald”. In this statement, we may see that “the current President of Russia” refers to Putin and the truth-value of this statement depends on how things happen to the actual man - Putin. However, Russell believes if we do this, there will be puzzles in logic as listing below. The first puzzle claimed by Russell is the puzzle of Informative Identity . We will investigate the following example: “Clive is the author of Narnia, in which “Clive” is a name and “the author of Narnia” is a definite description and this statement is true. According to the concept of singular term and our assumption, “... ... middle of paper ... is the only truly “competitor” of Russell’s theory and it is reasonable for Russell to only mention this view in his argument. Moreover, as mentioned before, in my opinion, Strawson’s objection is not convincing enough to reduce the strength of Russell’s Theory of Definite Description. Conclusion Russell’s Theory of Definite Description has totally changed the way we view definite descriptions by solving the three logical paradoxes. It is undeniable that the theory itself is not yet perfect and there can be objections on this theory. Still, until now, Russell’s theory is the most logical explanation of definite description’s role. Works Cited B.Russell. "Chapter XVI Descriptions." B.Russell. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy. London: Routledge, 1993. —. "On Denoting." Mind (1905). P.F.Strawson. "On Referring." Mind (1950). Lee, Barry 2013: R&A Lectures
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