Philosophy of Language – Bernard Russell Paper

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** Tutor must have knowledge in Philosophy of language!! **

Please provide on a separate page (which is not included in the exam page limit) a bibliography of “Sources Consulted”. This bibliography should include all references consulted, not just those from which you quoted material. For example, if you consult the Encyclopedia Britannica, include it in the bibliography, and similarly for all websites. Acknowledgement of a source is a defense against a charge of plagiarism.

Attached are Russell’s texts that you may need for this paper


  • In the opening paragraphs of “On Denoting”, Russell overturns almost every aspect of the theory he earlier proposed in The Principles of Mathematics. This question asks you to explain the new theory, and to compare it with its predecessor.
    • (a) Does Russell’s conception of a denoting phrase change, or remain the same, in the transition from The Principles of Mathematics to “On Denoting”? Do the linguistic expressions that he counts as denoting phrases change, or remain the same, in the transition from The Principles of Mathematics to “On Denoting”? You may find it helpful to discuss the notion of a denoting concept in explaining your response.
    • (b) Explain the relationship between the structure of a sentence and the proposition it expresses that Russell is assuming in chapter V of The Principles of Mathematics. How does Russell revise this view in “On Denoting”? Given this change, how do you think the Russell of “On Denoting” would analyze the proposition expressed by “Alys and Bertrand are altruistic”? Do you find this new analysis satisfactory? Give at least one reason in favor of the view, and at least one reason against it. Which considerations do you find the most compelling, and why?
    • (c) Explain the notion of a propositional function. What does it mean to say that a propositional function is always true? Using these resources, how would the Russell of “On Denoting” analyze the proposition expressed by the sentence “Some philosopher admires Bertrand”?
    • (d) In lecture and in discussion, we’ve said that “On Denoting” is poorly named – that in “On Denoting”, Russell really thinks that, in an important sense, denoting phrases don’t denote. What could Russell mean by this seemingly paradoxical claim?

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