Generically free choice

Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (6):479-512 (2010)
This paper discusses free-choice like effects in generics. Just as Jane may drink coffee or tea can be used to convey Jane may drink coffee and Jane may drink tea (she is free to choose ), some generics with disjunctive predicates can be used to convey conjunctions of simpler generics: elephants live in Africa or Asia can be used to convey elephants live in Africa and elephants live in Asia. Investigating these logically slightly more complex generics and especially the free-choice like effects throws light on both the semantics of generics and the interaction between world knowledge and the interpretive options generics offer. This paper presents a package of semantic and pragmatic hypotheses to account for the data, including why the effect is absent in the superficially logically similar elephants live in Africa or give birth to live young
Keywords Semantics  Generics  Plurals  Free choice  Distributivity
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    Jon Barwise & John Perry (1981). Situations and Attitudes. Journal of Philosophy 78 (11):668-691.
    Ariel Cohen (2004). Generics and Mental Representations. Linguistics and Philosophy 27 (5):529-556.

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