Russell’s Concepts "Name", "Existence" and "Unique Object of Reference" in Light of Modern Physics


  • Paul Weingartner Universität Salzburg



With his theory of descriptions Russell wanted to solve two problems concerning denotation and reference, which are formulated here as Problem I and Problem II. After presenting each problem, we describe the main points of Russell’s solution. We deal with Russell’s concepts of existence and then elaborate his presuppositions concerning the relation of denoting and referring. Next we discuss the presuppositions or principles which underlie Russell’s understanding of the objects of reference. These principles are such that if the objects of reference are material objects, they are objects of classical mechanics, or very close to such an interpretation. Finally we show how these principles have to be relaxed if the objects of reference are objects of quantum mechanics or special or general relativity.