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Stance: An International Undergraduate Philosophy Journal

Volume 10, April 2017

Lixing Mida Chu
Pages 27-37
DOI: 10.5840/stance2017104

Semantic Ambiguity Explained in the Framework of Cognitive Economy

In “Context and Communication,” Stephen Neale argues that the referential use of descriptions differs from the attributive use only in the pragmatics, making referential descriptions applicable to Russellian analysis. Marga Reimer disagrees with Neale’s view and argues that the difference is in the semantics, making referential descriptions semantically ambiguous. In this paper, I argue that Neale’s Modified Occam’s Razor overlooks the behavioral data of how we actually use language. I attempt to accommodate the strength of both Neale’s and Reimer’s explanations, putting them in a framework governed by the principle of cognitive economy.