About this topic
Summary In "Verbs and Times" (1957), Zeno Vendler examined linguistic practices involving verbs to argue for different relationships between time and the phenomena picked out by verbs. He categorized these into states, activities, accomplishments and achievements. Vendler's categories remain a starting point for contemporary discussion of the metaphysics of events and processes (and related phenomena) as well as in philosophy of action and philosophy of mind. 
Key works Vendler 1957 is the seminal article establishing the distinct categories of verb referents. Mourelatos 1978 modifies Vendler's original taxonomy, while Crowther 2011 and Hornsby 2012 initiate recent discussion of the relation among these categories by analogy to the relation between the referents of count and mass nouns. Related developments include Hornsby 1980 in action theory and Steward 1997 in philosophy of mind. 
Introductions Vendler 1957 itself is very accessible.
Related categories

46 found
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  1. Acción, hecho y sucesso.Tomás Barrero - 2012 - Manuscrito 35 (2):207-231.
    In this paper I asses Davidson’s analysis of action sentences stressing its quantificational structure and its views on prepositions and adverbial modification. Three arguments inspired by Grice’s ideas are deployed against it. First, I point to weird consequences of taking prepositions as defining predicates; second, I show some obstacles for Davidson’s view on adverbs; finally, I raise some doubts about his putative analysis of “negative actions”. From these, I hope that connections among actions, facts and events should be reconsidered in (...)
  2. Event Realization and Default Aspect.Jürgen Bohnemeyer & Mary Swift - 2004 - Linguistics and Philosophy 27 (3):263-296.
    There are languages – e.g., German, Inuktitut, andRussian – in which the aspectual reference of clausesdepends on the telicity of their event predicates. Weargue that in such languages, clauses or verb phrasesnot overtly marked for viewpoint aspect implicateor entail `event realization'', a property akin toParsons''s (1990) `culmination''. The aspectualreference associated with the use of clauses notovertly marked for aspect is computed in accordancewith the dependence of realization conditions ontelicity and in line with principles of Gricean pragmatics.We formalize event realization and (...)
  3. Event Location and Vagueness.Andrea Borghini & Achille C. Varzi - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 128 (2):313-336.
    Most event-referring expressions are vague; it is utterly difficult, if not impossible, to specify the exact spatiotemporal location of an event from the words that we use to refer to it. We argue that in spite of certain prima facie obstacles, such vagueness can be given a purely semantic (broadly supervaluational) account.
  4. Events.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    A critical survey of the main philosophical theories about events and event talk, organized in three main sections: (i) Events and Other Categories (Events vs. Objects; Events vs. Facts; Events vs. Properties; Events vs. Times); (ii) Types of Events (Activities, Accomplishments, Achievements, and States; Static and Dynamic Events; Actions and Bodily Movements; Mental and Physical Events; Negative Events); (iii) Existence, Identity, and Indeterminacy.
  5. Event Concepts.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 2007 - In Thomas F. Shipley & Jeff Zacks (eds.), Understanding Events: From Perception to Action. Oxford University Press. pp. 31�54.
    Events are center stage in several fields of psychological research. There is a long tradition in the study of event perception, event recognition, event memory, event conceptualization and segmentation. There are studies devoted to the description of events in language and to their representation in the brain. There are also metapsychological studies aimed at assessing the nature of mental events or the grounding of intentional action. Outside psychology, the notion of an event plays a prominent role in various areas of (...)
  6. Quantification in Event Semantics.Lucas Champollion - unknown
    • Beaver and Condoravdi (2007): NO “In Davidsonian Event Semantics the analysis of quantification is problematic: either quantifiers are treated externally to the event system and quantified in (cf. Landman, 2000), or else the definitions of the quantifiers must be greatly (and non-uniformly) complicated (cf. Krifka, 1989)”.
  7. Vendler on What is Stated.Daryl Close - 1981 - Philosophia 9 (3-4):331-337.
  8. Why Objects Exist but Events Occur.M. J. Cresswell - 1986 - Studia Logica 45 (4):371 - 375.
    I distinguish between sentences like(1) Last Thursday we drove from Wellington to Waikanae and (2) Last Thursday my copy of Aspects of the Theory of Syntax remained on my bookshelf. Sentence (2) has the subinterval property. If it is true at an interval t it is true at every subinterval of t. (1) lacks this property. (1) reports an event. (2) reports a state. Events do not have the subinterval property but states do have it, and so do objects. If (...)
  9. The Matter of Events.Thomas Crowther - 2011 - Review of Metaphysics 65 (1):3- 39.
    A distinction has often been drawn between processes and accomplishments; between, say, *walking* and *walking to the shops*. But it has proved difficult to explain the nature of this distinction in a satisfying way. This paper offers an explanation of the nature of this distinction that is suggested by the idea that there is an ontologically significant correspondence between temporal and spatial notions. A number of writers, such as Alexander Mourelatos (1978) and Barry Taylor (1985), have argued that the spatial (...)
  10. Intensional Verbs in Event Semantics.Graeme Forbes - 2010 - Synthese 176 (2):227 - 242.
    In Attitude Problems, I gave an account of opacity in the complement of intensional transitive verbs that combined neo-Davidsonian event-semantics with a hidden-indexical account of substitution failure. In this paper, I extend the account to clausal verbs.
  11. On the Interaction of Aspect and Modal Auxiliaries.Valentine Hacquard - 2009 - Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (3):279-315.
    This paper discusses the interaction of aspect and modality, and focuses on the puzzling implicative effect that arises when perfective aspect appears on certain modals: perfective somehow seems to force the proposition expressed by the complement of the modal to hold in the actual world, and not merely in some possible world. I show that this puzzling behavior, originally discussed in Bhatt (1999, Covert modality in non-finite contexts) for the ability modal, extends to all modal auxiliaries with a circumstantial modal (...)
  12. Event Calculus, Nominalisation, and the Progressive.Fritz Hamm & Michiel van Lambalgen - 2003 - Linguistics and Philosophy 26 (4):381 - 458.
  13. Mr. Malinovich on `Seeing' as an Achievement.Robert Hoffman - 1967 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 27 (3):439-440.
  14. Basic Activity.Jennifer Hornsby - 2013 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):1-18.
    I present a view of activity, taking it that an agent is engaged in activity so long as an action of hers is occurring. I suggest that this view (a) helps in understanding what goes wrong in an argument in Thompson (2008) known sometimes as the ‘initial segment argument’, and (b) enables us to see that there could be an intelligible conception of what is basic when agents' knowledge is allowed into an account of that.
  15. Actions and Activity.Jennifer Hornsby - 2012 - Philosophical Issues 22 (1):233-245.
    Contemporary literature in philosophy of action seems to be divided overthe place of action in the natural causal world. I think that a disagreementabout ontology underlies the division. I argue here that human action isproperly understood only by reference to a category of process or activity,where this is not a category of particulars.
  16. The Event in Res as Ontological Unit.Louis O. Kattsoff - 1946 - Philosophical Review 55 (2):174-182.
  17. Durative Achievements and Individual-Level Predicates on Events.Kate Kearns - 2003 - Linguistics and Philosophy 26 (5):595 - 635.
    Ryle (1949, Chapter V) discusses a range of predicates which in different ways exemplify a property I shall call quasi-duality - they appear to report two actions or events in one predicate. Quasi-duality is the key property of predicates Ryle classed as achievements. Ryle's criteria for classification were not temporal or aspectual, and Vendler's subsequent adoption of the term achievement for the aktionsart of momentary events changes the term - Rylean achievements and Vendlerian achievements are in principle different classes. Nevertheless, (...)
  18. Event Structure and the Perfect.Paul Kiparsky - manuscript
    In English, [1e] occurs only in have got, but it is included here because of its importance in other languages. In Vedic Sanskrit and ancient Greek, for example, the perfect of many achievement predicates can be used to denote the result state. A good semantics of the perfect should therefore have something to say about it.
  19. Kinesis and Energeia—and What Follows. Outline of a Typology of Human Actions.Carl Erik Kühl - 2008 - Axiomathes 18 (3):303-338.
    This paper presents a typology of human actions, based on Aristotle’s kinesis–energeia dichotomy and on a formal elaboration (with some refinement) of the Vendler–Kenny classificatory schemes for action types (or action verbs). The types introduced are defined throughout by inferential criteria, in terms of what here are referred to as “modal-temporal expressions” (‘MT-terms’). Examples of familiar categories analysed in this way are production and maintenance, but the procedure is meant to offer a basis for defining various other commonsense categories. Among (...)
  20. Perception: An Experience or an Achievement?Stanley Malinovich - 1964 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 25 (December):161-168.
  21. Why There Are No Token States.Eric Marcus - 2009 - Journal of Philosophical Research 34:215-241.
    The thesis that mental states are physical states enjoys widespread popularity. After the abandonment of typeidentity theories, however, this thesis has typically been framed in terms of state tokens. I argue that token states are a philosopher’s fiction, and that debates about the identity of mental and physical state tokens thus rest on a mistake.
  22. Quand Vouloir, c'est Faire [How to Do Things with Wants].Olivier Massin - 2014 - In R. Clot-Goudard (Dir.), L'Explication de L'Action. Analyses Contemporaines, Recherches Sur la Philosophie Et le Langage N°30, Paris, Vrin 30.
    This paper defends the action-theory of the Will, according to which willing G is doing F (F≠G) in order to make G happen. In a nutshell, willing something is doing something else in order to bring about what we want. -/- I argue that only the action-theory can reconcile two essential features of the Will. (i) its EFFECTIVITY: willing is closer to acting than desiring. (ii) its FALLIBILITY: one might want something in vain. The action-theory of the will explains EFFECTIVITY (...)
  23. Accomplishing Accomplishment.Adam Morton - 2012 - Acta Analytica 27 (1):1-8.
    The concepts of knowledge and accomplishment are duals. There are many parallels between them. In this paper I discuss the "AA" thesis, which is dual to the well known KK thesis. The KK thesis claims that if someone knows something, then she knows that she knows it. This is generally thought to be false, and there are powerful reasons for rejecting it. The AA thesis claims that if someone accomplishes something, then she accomplishes that she accomplishes it. I argue that (...)
  24. Events, Processes, and States.Alexander P. D. Mourelatos - 1978 - Linguistics and Philosophy 2 (3):415 - 434.
    The familiar Vendler-Kenny scheme of verb-types, viz., performances (further differentiated by Vedler into accomplishments and achievements), activities, and states, is too narrow in two important respects. First, it is narrow linguistically. It fails to take into account the phenomenon of verb aspect. The trichotomy is not one of verbs as lexical types but of predications. Second, the trichotomy is narrow ontologically. It is a specification in the context of human agency of the more fundamental, topic-neutral trichotomy, event-process-state.The central component in (...)
  25. What is an Event?Arthur E. Murphy - 1928 - Philosophical Review 37 (6):574-586.
  26. Event and Poiesis: The Aristotelian Theory of Natural Events.Carlo Natali - 2009 - Journal of Chinese Philosophy 36 (4):503-515.
  27. The Progressive in English: Events, States and Processes. [REVIEW]Terence Parsons - 1989 - Linguistics and Philosophy 12 (2):213 - 241.
    This paper has two goals. The first is to formulate an adequate account of the semantics of the progressive aspect in English: the semantics of Agatha is making a cake, as opposed to Agatha makes a cake. This account presupposes a version of the so-called Aristotelian classification of verbs in English into EVENT, PROCESS and STATE verbs. The second goal of this paper is to refine this classification so as to account for the infamous category switch problem, the problem of (...)
  28. Event Representation in Serial Verb Constructions.Andrew Pawley - 2010 - In Jürgen Bohnemeyer & Eric Pederson (eds.), Event Representation in Language and Cognition. Cambridge University Press.
  29. Events and Event Talk: An Introduction.Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi - 2000 - In James Higginbotham, Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi (eds.), Speaking of Events. Oxford University Press. pp. 3–47.
    A critical review of the main themes arising out of recent literature on the semantics of ordinary event talk. The material is organized in four sections: (i) the nature of events, with emphasis on the opposition between events as particulars and events as universals; (ii) identity and indeterminacy, with emphasis on the unifier/multiplier controversy; (iii) events and logical form, with emphasis on Davidson’s treatment of the form of action sentences; (iv) linguistic applications, with emphasis on issues concerning aspectual phenomena, the (...)
  30. The Context-Dependency of Temporal Reference in Event Semantics.Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi - 1999 - In Paolo Bouquet, Patrick Brezillon, Francesca Castellani & Luciano Serafini (eds.), in Modeling and Using Context. Proceedings of the Second International and Interdisciplinary Conference. Springer. pp. 507–510.
    Temporal reference in natural language is inherently context dependent: what counts as a moment in one context may be structurally analysed in another context, and vice versa. In this note we outline a way of accounting for this phenomenon within event-based semantics.
  31. Refining Temporal Reference in Event Structures.Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi - 1996 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 37 (1):71-83.
    This paper expands on the theory of event structures put forward in previous work by further investigating the subtle connections between time and events. Specifically, in the first part we generalize the notion of an event structure to that of a refinement structure, where various degrees of temporal granularity are accommodated. In the second part we investigate how these structures can account for the context-dependence of temporal structures in natural language semantics.
  32. An Ontology for Event Semantics.Christopher Jude Pinon - 1995 - Dissertation, Stanford University
    Event semantics takes eventualities, understood as events, processes, and states, to be basic objects in reality, not set-theoretic constructions from something else . I defend this view and argue that events, processes, and states form pairwise disjoint sorts, having the ontological status of atoms, aggregates, and mass objects, respectively. Aggregates are composed of atoms, whereas mass objects are not. Two intermediate groupings of eventualities are important in this mereological characterization: occurrences, comprising events and processes, and eventuality chunks, comprising processes and (...)
  33. Counting, Measuring And The Semantics Of Classifiers.Susan Rothstein - 2011 - The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 6 (1):1-42.
    This paper makes two central claims. The first is that there is an intimate and non-trivial relation between the mass/count distinction on the one hand and the measure/individuation distinction on the other: a defining property of mass nouns is that they denote sets of entities which can be measured, while count nouns denote sets of entities which can be counted. Crucially, this is a difference in grammatical perspective and not in ontological status. The second claim is that the mass/count distinction (...)
  34. Theoretical and Crosslinguistic Approaches to the Semantics of Aspect.Susan Rothstein (ed.) - 2008 - John Benjamins.
    INTRODUCTION Theoretical and crosslinguistic approaches to the semantics of aspect Susan Rothstein Bar-Han University. Theoretical issues The papers in this ...
  35. Fine-Grained Structure in the Eventuality Domain: The Semantics of Predicative Adjective Phrases and Be. [REVIEW]Susan Rothstein - 1999 - Natural Language Semantics 7 (4):347-420.
    This paper presents an account of the semantics of copular be as displayed in its behaviour in be+AP configurations. I begin by arguing against the Partee/Dowty distinction between a semantically null be of predication and a thematically relevant agentive be, and I propose that there is one semantically relevant verb whose grammatical role is to turn an AP predicate into a verbal one. The denotation of be must thus be a function from denotations of Adjective Phrases to denotation of Verb (...)
  36. Adverbial Quantification Over Events.Susan Rothstein - 1995 - Natural Language Semantics 3 (1):1-31.
    This paper gives an analysis of the adverbial quantifiers exemplified in “I regretted it every time I had dinner with him.” Sentences of this kind display what I call a ‘matching effect’; they are true if every event in the denotation oftime I had dinner with him can be matched with an event regretting that dinner event. They are thus truth-conditionally equivalent to sentences of the form “There are at least as many As as Bs.” The difficulties of giving a (...)
  37. Does Philosophy of Action Rest on a Mistake?Andrew Sneddon - 2001 - Metaphilosophy 32 (5):502-522.
    Philosophers of action tend to take for granted the concept of basic actions – actions that are done at will, or directly – as opposed to others that are performed in other ways. This concept does foundational work in action theory; many theorists, especially causalists, take part of their task to be showing that normal, complex actions necessarily stem from basic ones somehow. The case for the concept of basic actions is driven by a family of observations and a cluster (...)
  38. Toward a Theory of Event Identity.Alfred J. Stenner - 1974 - Philosophy of Science 41 (1):65-83.
    This paper takes the first steps in the construction of a theory of event identity as that theory applies to historical sentences. The theory is extensional throughout. Following statements of criteria of adequacy for the construction, Davidson's method of regimenting sentences is adopted in order to allow for variables ranging over events. Events in this theory are only partially construed, that is, to the extent of treating them as concrete individuals rather than as classes or repeatable universals. The paper concludes (...)
  39. Actions as Processes.Helen Steward - 2012 - Philosophical Perspectives 26 (1):373-388.
  40. The Ontology of Mind: Events, Processes, and States.Helen Steward - 1997 - Oxford University Press.
    Helen Steward puts forward a radical critique of the foundations of contemporary philosophy of mind, arguing that it relies too heavily on insecure assumptions about the sorts of things there are in the mind--events, processes, and states. She offers a fresh investigation of these three categories, clarifying the distinctions between them, and argues that the category of state has been very widely and seriously misunderstood.
  41. Processes.Rowland Stout - 1997 - Philosophy 72 (279):19-27.
    A natural picture to have of events and processes is of entities which extend through time and which have temporal parts, just as physical objects extend through space and have spatial parts. While accepting this picture of events, in this paper I want to present an alternative conception of processes as entities which, like physical objects, do not extend in time and do not have temporal parts, but rather persist in time. Processes and events belong to metaphysically distinct categories. Moreover (...)
  42. Event, State, and Process in Arrow Logic.Satoshi Tojo - 1999 - Minds and Machines 9 (1):81-103.
    Artificial agents, which are embedded in a virtual world, need to interpret a sequence of commands given to them adequately, considering the temporal structure for each command. In this paper, we start with the semantics of natural language and classify the temporal structures of various eventualities into such aspectual classes as action, process, and event. In order to formalize these temporal structures, we adopt Arrow Logic. This logic specifies the domain for the valuation of a sentence as an arrow. We (...)
  43. Linguistics in Philosophy.Zeno Vendler - 1967 - Cornell University Press.
  44. Verbs and Times.Zeno Vendler - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (2):143-160.
  45. Ventral Versus Dorsal Pathway: The Source of the Semantic Object/Event and the Syntactic Noun/Verb Distinction?Markus Werning - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (3):299-300.
    Experimental data suggest that the division between the visual ventral and dorsal pathways may indeed indicate that static and dynamical information is processed separately. Contrary to Hurford, it is suggested that the ventral pathway primarily generates representations of objects, whereas the dorsal pathway produces representations of events. The semantic object/event distinction may relate to the morpho-syntactic noun/verb distinction.
  46. The Conceptualization of Processes.Svend Østergaard - 2004 - Axiomathes 14 (1-3):77-96.
    There are various sources of the human conceptual system that pertain to causation. According to the realism of René Thom the attention network is attuned to existing patterns of singularities in space/time. According to cognitive linguistics the conceptual system is determined by the neural wiring and the embodied experience of the cognizer. Our concepts do therefore not necessarily reflect objective properties of space and time. In this paper I discuss the two positions and their relation. Following Len Talmy, I present (...)