The But Not All: A Partitive Account of Plural Definite Descriptions



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    1. RSSS Philosophy Program
      Australian National University, and
      Department of Philosophy
      University of Missouri, St. Louis
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  • This paper has benefited from discussions with Barbara Abbott, Kent Bach, John Hawthorne, Larry Horn, Ernie Lepore, Gillian Russell, Joe Salerno, and Zoltan Szabo and comments provided by an anonymous referee, Delia Graff Fara, Ishani Maitra, Tom McKay, Stephen Neale, Gary Ostertag, Matt Sayball, Jason Stanley, an audience at the Eastern Meeting of the APA 2006, and the participants of a BAPHLD meeting on an earlier incarnation of the paper. Special thanks to my commentator Zoltan Szabo for comments that much improved the paper.

Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri, St. Louis, Lucas Hall, St. Louis, MO 63121, USA.
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Abstract:  A number of authors in favor of a unitary account of singular descriptions have alleged that the unitary account can be extrapolated to account for plural definite descriptions. In this paper I take a closer look at this suggestion. I argue that while the unitary account is clearly onto something right, it is in the end empirically inadequate. At the end of the paper I offer a new partitive account of plural definite descriptions that avoids the problems with both the unitary account and standard Russellian analyses.