Semantic theories of natural and formal languages often appeal to the notion of domain of quantification in specifying the interpretations and truth conditions of sentences of the object language. In natural language, quantificational expressions, such as ‘every’, ‘some’, ‘most’, are routinely evaluated with respect to a salient and typically restricted range of entities (e.g. an ordinary utterance of ‘she knew everything’ can be true despite the fact that the person referred to is not omniscient). In formal languages, standard model-theoretic semantics specify the interpretations of the object language by fixing a domain of quantification and assigning semantic values constructed from that domain to non-logical expressions of the language. A question that has received much attention of late is whether there is an unrestricted domain of quantification, a domain containing absolutely everything there is. Is there a discourse or inquiry that has absolute generality? Prima facie examples of sentences that quantify over an all-inclusive domain abound (e.g. 'everything is self-identical' or ‘the empty set contains no element’). However, a number of philosophical arguments have been offered in support of the view that absolutely unrestricted quantification cannot be achieved. The growing body of literature on the issue has ramifications for semantics, metaphysics, and logic.
|Key works||Williamson 2003 contains an influential discussion and defense of absolute generality. Many of the main contributions to date are in found in Rayo & Uzquiano 2006.|
|Introductions||Rayo and Uzquiano's Introduction to Rayo & Uzquiano 2006 and Florio 2014|
Graduate studies at Western
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
Darrell P. Rowbottom
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