• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

This auspicious new volume is designed for linguists who are interested in the deeper issues of their science. Introduction to Linguistic Philosophy lays a solid foundation of linguistic philosophy presenting theories of leading linguistic analysts such as Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, and Quine. I. E. MackenzieÆs exploration into these theories equips readers for advanced work on most topics in semantics and the study of language. The structure of this book reflects the fact that the philosophical study of language is not systematic, but centers on aspects of language that are considered to be of fundamental conceptual significance. Therefore, this book need not be read in any specific order. Whenever a chapter presupposes an understanding of something that is explained elsewhere in the book, a specific cross-reference is given. MackenzieÆs approach to the philosophy of language stresses the importance of observing how language is used rather than the assuming that it conforms to a pre-existing logical structure. In addition to dealing with foundational issues, such as truth, meaning, and the nature of language, this book explores specific linguistic phenomenaùdescriptions, names, non-extesional contexts and quantificationùwhich have attracted considerable philosophical attention. Introduction to Linguistic Philosophy is a student-centered resource that is recommended for students in linguistics, communication, and philosophy.

Description and Analysis
Description and analysis
6.1. Russell's Theory of Descriptions
6.1.1. Acquaintance and Description

We saw in 4.1 that many philosophers have subscribed, often tacitly, to some form of what Carnap called the method of the name relation. In the work of the early Wittgenstein, this led to the view that the words of natural language were actually abbreviations for concatenations of genuine names, each of which was rigidly correlated with some ultimate constituent of reality (see 1.2.3). The twentieth-century English philosopher Bertrand Russell held similar views—during the earlier part of his career at least—and his famous theory of descriptions was the linchpin for much of the attendant analytical enterprise. Its importance can hardly be overstated.

Now, when linguists encounter the theory, they often get bogged down in ...

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