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Referential/Attributive: The Explanatory Gap of the Contextualist Theory



I argue that the contextualist account of the referential/attributive interpretation of definite descriptions, presented by Recanati and Bezuidehnout and based on the idea that definite descriptions are semantically underdetermined and in need of completion through optional top-down pragmatic processes, suffers from an explanatory gap. I defend the contextualist view but hold that the determination of the content of definite descriptions is a mandatory, linguistically driven process based on saturation rather than on optional pragmatic processes.