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Situations and Individuals

By Paul Elbourne


This book deals with the semantics of natural language expressions that are commonly taken to refer to individuals: pronouns, definite descriptions and proper names. It claims, contrary to previous theorizing, that they all have a common syntax and semantics, roughly that which is currently associated by philosophers and linguists with definite descriptions as construed in the tradition of Frege. As well as advancing this proposal, I hope to achieve at least one other aim, that of urging semanticists dealing with pronoun interpretation, in particular donkey anaphora, to consider a wider range of theories at all times than is sometimes done at present. I am thinking particularly of the gulf that seems to have emerged between those who practice some version of dynamic semantics (including DRT) and those who eschew this approach and rely on some version of the E-type analysis for donkey anaphora (if they consider this phenomenon at all). In my opinion there is too little work directly comparing the claims of these two schools (for that is what they amount to) and testing them against the data in the way that any two rival theories might be tested. (Irene Heim’s 1990 article in Linguistics and Philosophy does this, an

Year: 2011
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