A note on plural pronouns

Synthese 123 (2):227 - 246 (2000)
Gareth Evans'' proposal, as amended by Steven Neale –that a definite pronoun with a quantifiedantecedent that does not bind it has the sense ofa definite description – has been challenged inthe singular case by appeal to counter-examplesinvolving failure of the uniqueness condition forthe legitimacy of a singular description. Thischallenge is here extended to the plural.Counter-examples are provided by cases in which aplural description `the Fs'' does not denote,despite the propriety of the use of `they'' or`them'' it is to replace, because of failure ofcumulativeness. A noncumulative predicate isnot distributive, and conditions for thelegitimacy of `the Fs'' designed to accommodatenondistributive `Fs'' are given in the context ofa two sorted theory with generalized quantifiers.Failure of cumulativeness is not to be confusedwith failure of maximality as Neale and othersdefine it. If not all Fs are Gs, `The Fs are Gs''is false; but it does not follow that `the Fs'' isillegitimate; and if `Fs'' is distributive. it isso only if there are no Fs. These differencesgranted, I give a partial defense of theEvans–Neale proposal from deficiencies in analternative based on the views of P. T.Geach.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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DOI 10.2307/20118278
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