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Friday, February 27, 2015

Grice on "the": the implicatures


The keywords here should be: Names (as per Grice's "Vacuous NAMES"), Descriptions (as per Grice, "Definite Descriptions in Russell and the Vernacular") and Quantifiers (as per Grice's "System Q", relabeled System G by Myro).
A "singular term", as philosophers use the phrase, is a word or phrase that refers ONE individual object. Its semantic value is an object. It contrasts with a "general term", which is a word or phrase that refers to, or is true of, objects that satisfy some general condition. Its semantic value is, in extensional models, a set.
Note, these definitions are in terms of semantic properties rather than grammatical ones, i.e., there is no syntactic necessary and sufficient conditions on what is to count as a singular/general term.  Prima facie, the following provide examples:
Examples of so-called "singular terms" are:
Proper names, like "Paul Grice", Warwickshire", the name "3" -- in "the three Grices", etc.
Demonstratives like "this" (proximal), "that" (medial) and "yonder" (distal); deictics like "now", personal pronouns like "he", "I"; here, etc.
Definite descriptions: "the present Prime Minister of Great Britain", "the even prime," "the Merseyside native who climbed Mount Everest on hands and knees" (Grice's example), etc.
Examples of General terms include:
Count nouns like "king", "native", "butler", "gardener", "house", "people", "book", etc.
Mass nouns: snow, beer, rain, etc.
Generics: "the leopard" (the use of 'the' does not make this a definite description _per se_), cars, etc.
Indefinite descriptions: like "Diogenes was looking for an honest man" (represented by epsilon, not iota), "A number of eggs were found in the basket", etc.
Quantified formulae: Like "Some number", "every country", etc.
In "On Denoting" Russell (drawing from his collaborative work with Whitehead, "Principia Mathematica"), argued that this classification is mistaken.
The only genuine singular terms are demonstratives, he held.
He also held that a definite description and a name are in fact general terms.
Russell’s argument for the new classification proceeds in two steps:
Names are ‘truncated’ definite descriptions.
Definite descriptions are general quantified formulae. -- The iota operator that Whitehead and Russell borrowed from Peano is defined in terms of the quantifiers and identity.
Since Whitehead's and Russell’s time, a certain consensus has arisen that the second claim about definite descriptions is true (Grice should be credited for the view gaining consensus), with some qualifications, while the first claim is regarded as false. That is, names are singular terms, but definite descriptions are not.
Let us first consider the background to Whitehead's and Russell’s theory.
Russell held a very simple view of meaning -- unlike Grice who can be so subtle that moved Henry to write a book about it, "Quaestio subtilissima".
The meaning of a name, for Whitehead and Russsell, is the object it stands for and the meaning of a predicate is the UNIVERSAL it stands for. (The terminology of universalia is mediaeval, and Whitehead and Russell loved it).
Such a view issues in what we may call Whiteheadian-Russellian propositions: a proposition is a complex consisting of the very objects which are the values of the words which express the proposition.
Let us dub this the radical constituency thesis.
Necessarily, a judgement expresses a proposition just if the constituents of the proposition are the very objects the judgement is about.
So, if an utterer says that Louis XIV was bald, the utterer is is entertaining the proposition
< Louis XIV, baldness>,
where these constituents are not representations or mental entities, but the very objects: the actual person Louis XIV and the abstract universal baldness.
This position is an extensional one, i.e., if ‘a’ and ‘b’ refer to the same object, then ‘a’ means the same as ‘b’; the proposition is individuated with respect to extension alone. 
Patently, if there is no person "Louis XIV", then there is no corresponding proposition:
<…, baldness>
Whiteheadian-Russellian propositions are object dependent.
If no object, then no thought.
In particular, this gives us a simple picture of names:
The meaning of a name is the object it stands for:
“the name is merely a means of pointing to the thing, and does not occur in what you are asserting” (Russell, Lectures on Logical Atomism).
Thus, if two names have the same referent, they mean the same thing.
If there are no objects to enter into the proposition, then we have said nothing!
If a sentence has an empty term (a singular term with no reference), no proposition is expressed by it.
“Whenever the grammatical subject of a proposition
can be supposed not to exist without rendering
the proposition meaningless, it is plain that
the grammatical subject is not a proper
name, i.e., not a name directly
representing some object."
---- Whitehead and Russell, Prinicipia Mathematica.
Here is the key problem for this picture.

We can have thoughts, it seems, when there is no object to be a constituent of the proposition:
(iii) Pegasus is swift.                             <?, swiftness>
(iv) The king of France is bald.            <?, baldness>
Meinong, faced with just this problem, appealed to a doctrine of subsistence -- but neither Whitehead nor Russell nor Grice want to create what Grice calls a "Meinongian jungle".
Pegasus is swift.
expresses a perfectly coherent meaning, Pegasus must be in some sense so as to feature in the corresponding proposition.
This sense of being is subsistence, for Meinong.
Now Russell is most often read as essaying just this kind of Meinongian solution in Principles of Mathematics (1903).
We are obliged, if we follow this reading, to view Russell’s articulation of the mature theory of descriptions as motivated by a rejection of the subsistence doctrine, such is what is new about the theory of descriptions.
Such a view is mistaken; worse, it elides the profundity of Russell’s theory.
 In The Principles of Mathematics, Russell had a theory of denoting concepts.
Denoting concepts correspond to quantifier terms.
He lists four:

the universal quantifier: "all" or "every" (represented by (x))
the existential quantifier: "some (at least one) (represented by (Ex))
the definite descriptor: 'the' (represented by (ix)).
He adds other: "a/an", the indefinite descriptor, represented by the epsilon operator (later)
He adds "none", and others.
The idea was that denoting concepts are exceptions to the general rule about Whiteheadian-Russellian propositions.
The denotinc concept is a constituent of the proposition, rather than the object the denoting concept ‘refers’ to.
For example, the proposition expressed by
Every number has a successor. (Or, in the plural, "All numbers have a successor")
is not
<{x: x ` N}, Succession>  (where {x: x ` N} is the set of numbers)
but rather,
<*Every number*, Succession> (where ‘*’s mark a denoting concept).
In simple terms, we get to think about the INFINITE set of numbers through the denoting concept.

We cannot, as it were, think about the set directly, i.e., it doesn’t enter into the proposition.
Now the significance of this exception to the general rule is that denoting concepts can be empty without the proposition being incomplete.

The denoting concept is there in the proposition, it is an independent matter whether the denoting concept has a value or not.
For example, the proposition expressed by
The King of France is bald.
<*The king of France*, baldness>.
This is a perfectly good proposition, even though there is no King of France.

For the denoting concept takes the place of the missing king, if you will.
In short, Russell already had the means to reject Meinongian subsistence, he didn’t need a theory of descriptions to do that.
The Principles of Mathematics and other writings from the pre-1905 period are ambiguous as to whether Russell (or Whitehead and Russell) exploited the potential of denoting concepts in the way suggested or, confusedly, accepted Meinongianism in spite of his new found resources.
Russell was uncomfortable with denoting concepts precisely because they were exceptions to the general thesis governing propositions.
But, so long as one holds to the general constituency view and the thought that
The King of France is bald.
is expressive of a proposition, i.e., is meaningful, it looks impossible to negotiate an alternative.
The king of France.
must contribute some object to the proposition.
The object cannot be the king of France, for there is no such object.
Here we have an exception, denoting concepts are a way of making sense of it.
Thus, although denoting concepts solve the Meinong problem of empty (or 'vacuous' as Grice prefers) names, they only do so by creating an exception to the general theory.
Russell’s mature theory of descriptions was essentially proposed as a way out of this dilemma.
Why should we think that the
The king of France.
must contribute some object to the proposition?
Russell’s diagnosis is as follows.
There is a dogma that propositions must reflect grammatical form, i.e., for each subject and predicate there is a corresponding propositional constituent.
"Grammar is a good GUIDE to logical form", his adage was.
Whitehead's and Russell’s greatnesses lie in their seeing that this is mistaken.

Surface form need not be a guide to logical form (the form of the proposition, that which determines truth conditions).
If we can see our way to such a view, then there need not be any exceptions to the general theory.
The heart of Whitehead's and Russell’s theory of descriptions, then, is the claim that definite descriptions, phrases of the form
The so and so.
are not singular terms, i.e., they do not contribute an object to the propositions they express.
For Whitehead and Russell, this means that surface form is misleading as to logical form.
(SUBJECT)                                    (PREDICATE)
Louis XIV                                                is bald
The king of France is bald
Assuming for the moment that ‘Louis XIV’ is a paradigmatic singular term, if we were to take the subject + predicate form as our guide, we would treat ‘Louis XIV’ as making the same semantic contribution as ‘The king of France’ to the propositions respectively expressed.
That is, the one proposition is expressed:
Whitehead and Russell think this is mistaken.
Whitehead's and Russell’s fundamental move is to claim that although ‘
The present king of France.
is a grammatical subject, it is an incomplete symbol with respect to logical form, i.e., the phrase does not designate a propositional constituent.
Sentences featuring definite descriptions in fact express three distinct propositions, each one a general proposition. Thus:
Something is king of France:
SECOND CONJUNCT -- uniqueness
Only that thing is king of France (application of Leibniz's Law)
("y)(Ky → x = y)
 The thing is bald.
Put all three together, and one has:
($x)(K(x) and ("y)(K(y) → x = y) and B(x))
There is at least one king of France and at most one king of France and anything which is king of France is bald.
Grice finds this a violation of one of the maxims of manner: 'be brief'.
Therefore he adds a further maxim: formulate what you are going to say in the way that it facilitates the most expected reply or challenge: 'the king of France is bald'.
This is especially notorious in the negative, 'the king of France is NOT bald", which Grice represents informally as "[The King of France is] NOT bald". The existence and uniqueness (conjuncts I and II of the tripartite Russellian analysis are assigned common-ground status, and only his baldness is open to challenge.
It follows that sentences with definite descriptions as subjects do not express particular (object dependent) thoughts, rather, they express general (object independent) thoughts.
One does not need to have a particular object in mind to express the thought that
the so and so is F.
This notion of an incomplete symbol in fact applies to all quantifier noun phrases as regimented in a first-order logic calculus such as Grice's System Q (Myro's System G)
Every number has a successor. (or All numbers have a successor).
where ‘every number’ is the subject and ‘has a successor’ is the predicate.
Does the formalisation of this contain a constituent that corresponds to the subject?
The standard formalisation is
("x)( Nx → Sx),
where ‘N’ corresponds to ‘number’ and ‘S’ corresponds to ‘has a successor’.

But there isn’t a constituent here which corresponds to ‘every number’. Consider:
"Nx" is an open sentence: ‘x is a number’.
"(x)Nx" is a formula, but says that ‘Everything is a number’.
Whereas some expressions are formed by predicating a property to a subject, others are formed by binding all free variables in an open sentence by a quantifier.

The meaning of the subject is, as it were, smeared across the quantifier and the antecedent of the conditional.
In general, quantified subjects at surface form disappear in the formalization.

Some expressions contain no subject at all.

In other words, there is no propositional constituent corresponding to ‘every number’ (cfr. "The average family has 2.1 children").

Whitehead's and Russell’s proposal, therefore, is simply that definite descriptions fall together with quantifier binding rather than singular terms.
In effect, Whitehead and Russell offers a contextual definition of ‘the king of France’.

Any context in which a phrase of the form occurs can be translated into one in which only quantifiers occur.

The definition of all logical constants in terms of ‘¬’ and ‘and is another example of contextual definition.
Whitehead's and Russell’s theory allows them to keep uniformly to their principles.
The object theory of reference is vacuously satisfied because the ‘The king of France is not a singular term. It gives way to a conjunction of general propositions.
Whitehead's and Russell’s principle is satisfied because ‘The king of France’ does not entail the existence of a particular object one needs to know.
Just so, the principle of acquaintance is satisfied.
We want to say that every proposition is either true or false (Excluded Middle’ or "Tertium non datur", if you must -- or "Avoid a truth value gap like the plague", to echo Grice -- Never mind non-bivalent logic).

We thus want to make a decision about

The king of France is bald.

But since there is no such person it might seem that he is neither bald nor not bald (excluding synthetic wigs alla Hegel that Russell quotes in "On Denoting" -- "Hegelians love a synthesis").

This comes down to an issue of scope of negation -- what Grice symbolizes by ~n, or by the use of the square-bracket device: whatever falls WITHIN the square brackets is IMMUNE to negation, since it is not controversial and won't be challenged by your addressee.

Grice's adages:

"Do not multiply senses of "not" beyond necessity."

"Do not multiply senses of "the" beyond necessity".

"Do not multiply senses of "a/an" beyond necessity."

(He is most clear regarding 'a/an': we would hardly be sympathetic to a philosopher that 'a' has three different senses: "I broke a finger yesterday", "I saw a tortoise in my garden", "Smith is meeting a woman this evening").
Names are insensitive to scope of negation:
¬a is F


a is ¬F

mean the same thing.

Another reason why definite descriptions  are not singular terms.
Following Whitehead and Russell, we may distinguish between two kinds of scope:
Primary occurrence or wide scope occurs when the definite description is not a constituent of a more complex clause.
Secondary occurrence or narrow scope occurs when the definite description is a constituent of a complex phrase.
Any sentence in which

the king of France

has a primary occurrence is false, because there is no King of France.

(Ex)(Kx and (y)(Kyy = x) and ~Bx))
 is false.
But where the definite description has secondary occurrence, the sentence can be true precisely because the negation has scope over the first clause:
~((Ex) (Kx and (y)(Kyy = x) and Bx))
Thus: Whitehead's and Russell’s theory and Grice's theory preserve the excluded middle, even though there is no present King of France.
Quantified phrases are incomplete relative to surface form, and so if definite descriptions are quantified phrases, then they will be incomplete also.

But there is an independent reason for thinking that definite descriptions do not contribute an object to the propositions in which they occur.
The author of "Waverly" is Scott.
 The is here is identity.

What object does ‘the author of Waverly’ contribute to the proposition?

It contributes Scott, in which case the sentence becomes a tautology, which it clearly is not.

George IV wanted to know if the author of Waverly was Scott, not if Scott was Scott.

It contributes something other than Scott, in which case the identity is false.

Thus: definite descriptions are not singular terms.
One might think that the distortion to surface form Whitehead's and Russell’s analysis entails suggests that the analysis is mistaken.

There are two responses.
Why not butcher surface form? (For all that Grice said about 'conversational maxims of 'manner' of presentation of what is said the WAY it is said).

If one accepts the distinction between surface and logical form, then the former does not impose a tight constraint on the latter.
The distance from surface form Whitehead's and Russell’s analysis exhibits is but an artefact  of the reduction of ‘the’ to ‘some’ and ‘every’, the only terms of generality Whitehead and Russell worked with (others are available, of course, with the employment of negation.)

We do not, though, need to effect such a reduction, we can treat ‘the’ as a quantifier in its own right:
[the x] (K(x), B(x))
This form is due to Mostowski.

Grice almost adopted it, but Hans Sluga said, "No!".

Think of the ‘(the x)’ as expressing a function defined over two sets, the set of kings and the set of bald things.

The value of the function is true just if there is no member of the king set that is not a member of the bald set and there is only one  member of the king set, i.e.,
‘[the x] (K(x), B(x))’ is true iff (K)I(B) = 0 and K=1
(where "I" means ‘the cardinality of I’.

This gives us the same truth conditions as the Whiteheadian-Russellian analysis without beating surface form to a pulp.
It is crucial to an understanding of Whitehead and Russell not to conflate his account of descriptions with their account of names.

Whitehead's and Russell’s theory of descriptions only pertains to ‘the so and so’-type phrases.

What Whitehead and Russell do propose is that apparent names (singular terms), such as 'Louis XIV', are in fact truncated or telescoped descriptions --to an associated 'dossier' as Grice would have it in "Vacuous Names".  

This claim is a separate thesis from the one which says that definite descriptions are not singular terms.

Prima facie, one can accept the theory of descriptions without thinking that ‘Louis XIV’ is, logically speaking, really a description.
Why should we not think that names are also definite descriptions? (cfr. Quine: Pegasus pegasises).
Whitehead's and Russell’s motivation for reducing names to descriptions was epistemologically driven.

It simply doesn’t follow from any semantic thesis Whitehead and Russell accepted.
Whitehead and Russell held to a principle: ‘a’ is a genuinely singular term only if

a is F

is meaningless, where ‘a’ is empty (lacks a referent) or is 'vacuous' (in Grice's terminology), cfr. "Empty names" (Stanford University Press).
“It is not possible for a subject to think about something unless he knows which particular individual he is thinking about."
---- Russell, Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description.
Now Whitehead's and Russell’s principle does not license the elimination of names in favour of descriptions.

For the moment, consider that there is a set of options available.

One may, for instance, say that, contra intuition, ‘a is F’ does not express a thought when ‘a’ is empty, but ‘a’ is still a singular term!

Whitehead and Russell did not consider this option because of an epistemological principle: to understand a proposition, one must be acquainted with its constituents.
“Every proposition which we can understand must be composed wholly of constituents with which we are acquainted” (Russell).
To be acquainted to an object is to have “a direct cognitive relation to that object, i.e., when I am directly aware of the object itself” (Russell).
Therefore, if ‘a is F’ is assumed to be meaningful, where ‘a’ is empty, then ‘a’ cannot be a singular term, for we cannot be acquainted with its referent - it doesn’t have one.

It thus appears that we are led to view a as complex, as made up out of constituents with which we may be acquainted.
Acquaintance has no semantic motivation, it is based upon an empiricist picture of the mind.

If we reject such a picture, then we have removed the motivation for thinking of names as complexes, descriptions.
So, by these principles, genuine names (singular terms) are just those things whose referents are objects with which I am acquainted.

But am I acquainted with Russell, Bismarck, Julius Caesar, etc?
“When we say anything about Bismarck, we should like, if we could, to make the judgement which Bismarck alone can make, namely the judgement in which he himself is a constituent."
--- Russell, KAD, p. 208).
It thus seems to Whitehead and Russell that common proper names are not genuine singular terms, they do not express object-dependent thoughts.

For Whitehead and Russell, names are truncated or telescoped descriptions; e.g.,
Bismarck is an astute diplomat = The first chancellor of Germany is an astute diplomat.
Not everyone will have the same description, but they will have descriptions of the one proposition that includes Bismarck (the one Bismarck can use) and this enables them to communicate and be talking of the same thing.
Whitehead's and Russell’s account leaves us with very few singular terms.

When we use definite descriptions and names we are having general thoughts, not about objects. 

The only genuinely referring expressions (“logically proper names”), by Whitehead's and Russell’s principles, are ‘this’, ‘that’ and ‘I’.
Independent of any worries about Russell’s epistemological assumptions, common proper names appear to be behave quite differently from definite descriptions.

Here are some problems for Russell’s view, based on Kripke’s notion that names are rigid -- Grice speaks of inexorable tying.
If names were definite descriptions, then attributing the description to the name should result in an analytical truth, but this is just false.

Bismarck was the first Chancellor of Germany’ is clearly an empirical truth.
If names were definite descriptions, we could make no sense of counterfactual statements employing the name, but we clearly can.

For example, one can say:

If Bismarck weren’t Germany’s first Chancellor, the Great War would have started sooner.

But if ‘Bismarckjust means ‘the first Chancellor of Germany’, then this statement would be meaningless.
Similarly, the first below is true, but the second below is false:

Necessarily, Bismarck was Bismarck
Necessarily, Bismarck was the first Chancellor of Germany
We can refer to an object with a name even if we know nothing about the object.

If I pick up the name ‘Bill’ in a conversation, it seems that I can use ‘Bill’ in the conversation to refer to Bill.

In what sense would I fail to refer to him?
As earlier remarked, Whitehead's and Russell’s theory of definite descriptions is widely accepted.

Whitehead's and Russell's account of names as definite descriptions is equally widely rejected.

There have been, however, a number of criticisms of the theory of definite descriptions. here we’ll just look at two standard complaints.
Strawson’s objection is essentially twofold.

Firstly, there is the claim that truth attaches to statements, not sentences.

Call this the truth bearer objection.

This is of little consequence, for Russell was clearly concerned with propositions, not sentences.

Strawson’s second objection is more interesting.
Strawson claims that

The F is G

presupposes (or implies, or implicates) the existence of something which is F.

Russell’s analysis has it that ‘The F is G’ entails the existence of something which is F.


Because the proposition expressed is conjunctive, and a conjunction is true just if each of its conjuncts are true, and the first conjunct in Russell’s analysis is that there is a king of France.
A presupposes B iff if B is false, then A is neither true nor false.
A entails B iff if B is false, then A is false.
It is not possible for B to be false and A to be true)
The difference is that entailment contraposes:
Contraposition: P → Q iff ~Q → ~P.
The alleged presupposition does not does not admit contraposition.

Thus, for Whitehead, Russell, and Grice, if there is no king of France, ‘The king of France is bald’ is false.

For Strawson, ‘The king of France is bald’ would be neither true nor false in such circumstances.

Strawson takes this reading to be intuitively correct.

Is it?

It is easy to find instances where Strawson’s intuition is simply wrong:

"The king of France exists" is clearly false.
"Man U signed the King of France this morning" is clearly false.
"The King of France does not exist" is clearly true.
In general, presupposition can always be cancelled -- and that is why Grice saw it as conversational implicature.

That is, if A putatively presupposes B, then we can always jointly assert the falsity of A and B.

This shows that presupposition simply does not hold, for if it did, the falsity of B would be enough to show that A lacked a truth value (true or false).

Here’s how:

A is false because B is false, e.g.,

In Grice's famous cancellation:

The king of France is NOT bald because there is no king of France.
Many have said that knowing p presupposes p.

Again, this seems to be just false:

Mary doesn’t know she is pregnant, because she is not pregnant, it was a phantom pregnancy.
Keith Sedgwick Donnellan (who shared with Grice a seminar on implicature at Cornell) argues, in essence, that not "not" but "the" is somewhat ambiguous between attributive and referential interpretations, or as Grice prefers, non-identificatory and identificatory.
Attributive or non-identificatory: object independent, as on Whitehead's and Russell’s analysis: the definite description is true of whoever satisfies the description.
Referential or identificatory: object dependent, e.g., demostratives.
On an identificatory or referential interpretation, ‘the king’ functions as a singular term, with ‘king’ simply being used to ‘point’ to a particular object that may or may not in fact be king.

(The particular object may be France's President).

Donnellan’s claim, then, is that, at best, Whitehead's and Russell’s account is partial (never mind Strawson's): it completely ignores referential or identifcatory uses, which were the only uses that interested Strawson ironically!
An example

The murderer of Smith is insane.
Donnellan suggests that the above,  as said by a detective looking at Smith’s corpse torn to pieces, is an attributive or non-identificatory use. It is true just if whoever murdered Smith is insane.

On the other hand, Donnellan suggests that, as said by a trial spectator as the accused of Smith’s murder is frothing at the mouth, is true just if the accused is insane, regardless of whether he murdered Smith or not.
Similar examples by Grice in "Vacuous Names" regarding 'the butler that Smith relies on so much' "will be looking for a new position", "was in fact his gardener".
One way of answering Donnellan’s and Grice's objection is to say that Whitehead and Russell got the semantics correct, with the difference between attributive or non-identificatory and referential or identificatory interpretations being an issue of pragmatics (Grice and Kripke would agree -- but Grice is cautious and is 'not sure' he is 'wholly sympathetic' towards the conclusions that Donnellan (whom Grice explicitly quotes in "Vacuous Names" draws from the existence of the distinction. In other words, Grice loved Whitehead and Russell too much to be criticized LIKE THAT).

Referential or identificatory uses are where we communicate an object dependent proposition by using a sentence that expresses an object independent proposition.
The method adopted here follows the maxim that if an independently motivated pragmatics accounts for a putative semantic feature, then it is, ceteris paribus, better to explain the feature pragmatically than to give-up semantic uniformity.
Grice makes a distinction between:
Expression meaning: the truth conditions of a expression (semantic reference (Kripke follows suit)).
Utterer's meaning: The proposition the utter intends the addressee to entertain (utterer's reference (Kripke follows suit)).
Here is an example.

Grice says to Warnock at Collections:

‘He has beautiful handwriting’.

The utterance of the above simply means that the candidate has beautiful cellent handwriting, what else on earth can it mean?

But Grice knows that Warnock will understand something more, namely, the candidate is no hopeless at philosophy (The example occurs in the segment of "The causal theory of perception" that Grice excluded from Way of Words).

Grice, by uttering "He has beautiful handwriting", has thus, by exploiting the context, communicated a proposition to Warnock that does not JUST have the truth conditions of the sentence he wrote on the reference.

Just so with Donnellan’s example:
 The murderer of Smith is insane.

expresses an attributive proposition true of whoever is the unique satisfier of 

x murdered Smith.

But it can be used referentially to have an utterer-meaning (reference): its utterer-meaning is an object-dependent proposition about, say Nowell, frothing at the mouth in the dock.

The object-dependent proposition is communicated because the addressee can work out such a proposition because he realises that the spectator thinks that the man in the dock is the murderer of Smith, even though he did not say that he was.
There is another good reason to adopt this method.

If we admit the ambiguity of

‘the F’

on the basis of referential or identificatory use, we must say that all quantifiers are ambiguous:
Most people like football.
One could say this in a room of three people knowing precisely that only A and B like football and knowing that A, B and C  know who like football. 

One's addressee would thus get an object-dependent proposition about A and B.

But one have not said anything ambiguous.

They can infer the object dependent proposition from one's general proposition and their knowledge about the people in the room and what one knows.

We do not have to think of ‘most’ as ambiguous.
Some boy spilt the milk
One could say this to A in a situation where everyone present knows that one is accusing A of spilling the milk.

The utterer is trying to get A to admit his crime.

Again, an object dependent proposition is inferred by the utterer's addressee, but the sentence doesn’t express one.

‘Some’ is not ambiguous. (Cfr. "That was some party"), or as murderous Robespierre would say, with a slight wicked relief, "That was SOME bald king (of France)".

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