A universal scale of comparison

Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (1):1-55 (2008)
Comparative constructions form two classes, those that permit direct comparisons (comparisons of measurements as in Seymour is taller than he is wide) and those that only allow indirect comparisons (comparisons of relative positions on separate scales as in Esme is more beautiful than Einstein is intelligent). In contrast with other semantic theories, this paper proposes that the interpretation of the comparative morpheme remains the same whether it appears in sentences that compare individuals directly or indirectly. To develop a unified account, I suggest that all comparisons (whether in terms of height, intelligence or beauty) involve a scale of universal degrees that are isomorphic to the rational (fractional) numbers between 0 and 1. Crucial to a unified treatment, the connection between the individuals being compared and universal degrees involves two steps. First individuals are mapped to a value on a primary scale that ranks individuals with respect to the gradable property (whether it be height, beauty or intelligence). Second, the value on the primary scale is mapped to a universal degree that encodes the value’s relative position on the primary scale. Direct comparison results if measurements such as seven feet participate in the primary scale (as in Seven feet is tall). Otherwise the result is an indirect comparison.
Keywords Comparison  Scales  Degrees  Linear orders  Gradable Adjectives
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10988-008-9028-z
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,217
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
J. L. Bell (1977). A Course in Mathematical Logic. Sole Distributors for the U.S.A. And Canada American Elsevier Pub. Co..

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Alan Clinton Bale (2011). Scales and Comparison Classes. Natural Language Semantics 19 (2):169-190.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

82 ( #57,880 of 1,932,483 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

13 ( #66,441 of 1,932,483 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.