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Type: Thesis
Title: The Referential/Attributive Distinction: Its Status and Scope
Author: Al-Khalfa, Atheer
Issue Date: 2020
School/Discipline: School of Humanities : Philosophy
Abstract: In this thesis I investigate Donnellan’s Referential / Attributive distinction (R/A distinction); a distinction about using (say) definite descriptions in two truthconditionally different ways. I propose an argument from non-misdescriptions to the R/A distinction which does not utilise those cases of misdescriptions that Donnellan focused on. After arguing that the distinction should not be captured via conversational implicature, I point out a certain systematicity between the two relevant uses which tells against the view that the R/A distinction arises due to lexical ambiguity. I then extend the R/A distinction to demonstratives like ‘that F’ as well as some pronouns and suggest that it may be even more pervasive. Given this systematicity and pervasiveness of the R/A distinction, I propose two unified semantic treatments. The first is a treatment under which terms that exhibit the R/A distinction (R/A terms) are intention-sensitive indexicals and the second is a treatment under which R/A terms induce a syntactic ambiguity in the sentences they are embeded in. I conclude by distinguishing my argument from nonmisdescriptions to the R/A distinction from the (perhaps) more familiar argument from misdescriptions to the R/A distinction, to which I adopt the well-known Kripkean (1977) position.
Advisor: Eagle, Antony
Fernandez, Jordi
Dissertation Note: Thesis (MPhil) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2020
Keywords: attributive
definite descriptions
referential attributive
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