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Essays on Reference, Language, and Mind$
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Keith Donnellan, Joseph Almog, and Paolo Leonardi

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199857999

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199857999.001.0001

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Speaking of Nothing

Speaking of Nothing

(p.80) [4] Speaking of Nothing
Essays on Reference, Language, and Mind

Keith Donnellan

Joseph Almog

Paolo Leonardi

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers how “the historical explanation theory” or “causal theory” might handle the puzzles mentioned by Bertrand Russell. Two puzzles stand out as more important than the others. The first one is the well-known problem of identity statements. The second is the use of singular terms in negative existence statements. The chapter argues that the outline of a solution to problems concerning nonexistence statements is available to the historical explanation theory. It also suggests a way of representing propositions, but no obvious way of representing propositions expressed by existence statements suggests itself.

Keywords:   theory of reference, historical explanation theory, causal theory, Bertrand Russell, identity statements, nonexistence statements

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