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Genericity: An Introduction

In Greg N. Carlson & Francis Jeffry Pelletier (eds.), The Generic Book. University of Chicago Press. pp. 1--124 (1995)

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  1. Between Singularity and Generality: The Semantic Life of Proper Names.Laura Delgado - 2019 - Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (4):381-417.
    Although the view that sees proper names as referential singular terms is widely considered orthodoxy, there is a growing popularity to the view that proper names are predicates. This is partly because the orthodoxy faces two anomalies that Predicativism can solve: on the one hand, proper names can have multiple bearers. But multiple bearerhood is a problem to the idea that proper names have just one individual as referent. On the other hand, as Burge noted, proper names can have predicative (...)
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  • A Solution to the Donkey Sentence Problem.Adam Morton - 2015 - Analysis 75 (4):554-557.
    The problem concerns quantifiers that seem to hover between universal and existential readings. I argue that they are neither, but a different quantifier that has features of each. NOTE the published paper has a mistake. I have corrected this in the version on this site. A correction note will appear in Analysis.
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  • Differences in the Evaluation of Generic Statements About Human and Non‐Human Categories.Arber Tasimi, Susan Gelman, Andrei Cimpian & Joshua Knobe - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (7):1934-1957.
    Generic statements express generalizations about categories. Current theories suggest that people should be especially inclined to accept generics that involve threatening information. However, previous tests of this claim have focused on generics about non-human categories, which raises the question of whether this effect applies as readily to human categories. In Experiment 1, adults were more likely to accept generics involving a threatening property for artifacts, but this negativity bias did not also apply to human categories. Experiment 2 examined an alternative (...)
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  • Agentive Modals.Matthew Mandelkern, Ginger Schultheis & David Boylan - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (3):301-343.
    This essay proposes a new theory of agentive modals: ability modals and their duals, compulsion modals. After criticizing existing approaches—the existential quantificational analysis, the universal quantificational analysis, and the conditional analysis—it presents a new account that builds on both the existential and conditional analyses. On this account, the act conditional analysis, a sentence like ‘John can swim across the river’ says that there is some practically available action that is such that if John tries to do it, he swims across (...)
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  • A Theory of Hedged Moral Principles.Pekka Väyrynen - 2009 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 4. Oxford University Press. pp. 91-132.
    This paper offers a general model of substantive moral principles as a kind of hedged moral principles that can (but don't have to) tolerate exceptions. I argue that the kind of principles I defend provide an account of what would make an exception to them permissible. I also argue that these principles are nonetheless robustly explanatory with respect to a variety of moral facts; that they make sense of error, uncertainty, and disagreement concerning moral principles and their implications; and that (...)
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  • Generics and Weak Necessity.Ravi Thakral - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-28.
    A prevailing thought is that generics have a covert modal operator at logical form. I claim that if this is right, the covert generic modality is a weak necessity modal. In this paper, I pr...
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  • The Meaning of "Look".Wylie Breckenridge - 2007 - Dissertation, New College, University of Oxford
    My main aim is to clarify what we mean by ‘look’ sentences such as (1) below – ones that we use to talk about visual experience: -/- (1) The ball looked red to Sue -/- This is to help better understand a part of natural language that has so far resisted treatment, and also to help better understand the nature of visual experience. -/- By appealing to general linguistic principles I argue for the following account. First, we use (1) to (...)
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  • On Truth Persistence. A Comparison Between European Portuguese and Italian in Relation to Sempre.Patricia Amaral & Fabio Del Prete - 2014 - In Variation within and across Romance Languages. Selected papers from the 41st Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages.
    This paper analyzes a non-temporal interpretation of the adverb sempre “always” in European Portuguese and Italian, in which the adverb expresses persistence of the truth of a proposition over time and displays specific contextual constraints (TP-sempre). Despite an overlap in the contexts in which TP-sempre may occur in both languages, we provide data showing that its distribution is not exactly the same in European Portuguese and Italian. In view of these data, we propose that TP-sempre is a modal operator of (...)
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  • Meaning and Ontology.Ernest Lepore - manuscript
    Plato did it. Aristotle did it. All the great philosophers did it. You do it and we do it: we draw philosophical conclusions from linguistic data. Although we all do it, the degree, manner, and intensity to which it is done varies. Some have made piecemeal observations about language (e.g., “all these different things have the same term predicated of them”) to draw metaphysical conclusions (e.g., “there is some one existing thing that all these different entities share”). Others have made (...)
     
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  • Do Ducks Lay Eggs? How People Interpret Generic Assertions.Sangeet Khemlani, Sarah-Jane Leslie, Sam Glucksberg & Paula Rubio-Fernandez - 2007 - Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society.
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  • Carving Up the Social World with Generics.Sarah-Jane Leslie - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy.
  • Cultural Transmission of Social Essentialism.Marjorie Rhodes, Sarah-Jane Leslie & Christina Tworek - 2012 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (34):13526-13531.
  • Conceptual and Linguistic Distinctions Between Singular and Plural Generics.Sarah-Jane Leslie, Sangeet Khemlani, Sandeep Prasada & Sam Glucksberg - 2009 - Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society.
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  • Conceptual Distinctions Amongst Generics.Sandeep Prasada, Sangeet Khemlani, Sarah-Jane Leslie & Sam Glucksberg - 2013 - Cognition 126 (3):405-422.
    Generic sentences (e.g., bare plural sentences such as “dogs have four legs” and “mosquitoes carry malaria”) are used to talk about kinds of things. Three experiments investigated the conceptual foundations of generics as well as claims within the formal semantic approaches to generics concerning the roles of prevalence, cue validity and normalcy in licensing generics. Two classes of generic sentences that pose challenges to both the conceptually based and formal semantic approaches to generics were investigated. Striking property generics (e.g. “sharks (...)
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  • Generics Oversimplified.Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):28-54.
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  • Mass Nouns and Plural Logic.David Nicolas - 2008 - Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (2):211-244.
    A dilemma put forward by Schein (1993) and Rayo (2002) suggests that, in order to characterize the semantics of plurals, we should not use predicate logic, but non-singular logic, a formal language whose terms may refer to several things at once. We show that a similar dilemma applies to mass nouns. If we use predicate logic and sets, we arrive at a Russellian paradox when characterizing the semantics of mass nouns. Likewise, a semantics of mass nouns based upon predicate logic (...)
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  • Only and Even: Sanctioning, Compositionality, and Variation in Polarity. (Handout).Anastasia Giannakidou - manuscript
    This is my response as key discussant to papers presented at the workshop on Polarity at this year’s LSA meeting in Anaheim, CA.
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  • (In)Definiteness, Polarity, and the Role of Wh-Morphology in Free Choice.Anastasia Giannakidou & Lisa Cheng - 2006 - Journal of Semantics 23 (2):135-183.
    In this paper we reconsider the issue of free choice and the role of the wh-morphology employed in it. We show that the property of being an interrogative wh-word alone is not sufficient for free choice, and that semantic and sometimes even morphological definiteness is a pre-requisite for some free choice items (FCIs) in certain languages, e.g. in Greek and Mandarin Chinese. We propose a theory that explains the polarity behaviour of FCIs cross-linguistically, and allows indefinite (Giannakidou 2001) as well (...)
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  • Ontology and Objectivity.Thomas Hofweber - 1999 - Dissertation, Stanford University
    Ontology is the study of what there is, what kinds of things make up reality. Ontology seems to be a very difficult, rather speculative discipline. However, it is trivial to conclude that there are properties, propositions and numbers, starting from only necessarily true or analytic premises. This gives rise to a puzzle about how hard ontological questions are, and relates to a puzzle about how important they are. And it produces the ontologyobjectivity dilemma: either (certain) ontological questions can be trivially (...)
     
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  • Linguistics and Philosophy.Ernest Lepore & Francis Jeffry Pelletier - unknown
    Roger Gibson has achieved as much as anyone else, indeed, more, in presenting and defending Quine’s philosophy. It is no surprise that the great man W.V. Quine himself said that in reading Gibson he gained a welcome perspective on his own work. His twin books The Philosophy of W.V. Quine and Enlightened Empiricism have no rivals. We are all indebted to Roger. The essay that follows is intended not only to honor him but also to continue a theme that runs (...)
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  • On Generics.Anna Papafragou - unknown
    In this paper I argue against previous approaches to the semantics of generics which involved the notions of prototype, stereotype and relevant quantification. I assume that the logical form of generics includes a generic operator which, as Heim (1992) has suggested, can be construed as the modal operator of necessity. After demonstrating that the presence of the generic operator in a semantic representation, as well as its domain of quantification, are pragmatically supplied, I go on to show how the various (...)
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  • Existential Generics.Ariel Cohen - 2004 - Linguistics and Philosophy 27 (2):137-168.
    While opinions on the semantic analysis of generics vary widely, most scholars agree that generics have a quasi-universal flavor. However, there are cases where generics receive what appears to be an existentialinterpretation. For example, B's response is true, even though only theplatypus and the echidna lay eggs: (1) A: Birds lay eggs. B: Mammals lay eggs too. In this paper I propose a uniform account of the semantics of generics,which accounts for their quasi-existential readings as well as for their more (...)
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  • Generics and Experimental Philosophy.Adam Lerner - 2016 - In Wesley Buckwalter & Justin Sytsma (eds.), A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 404-416.
  • Dual Content Semantics, Privative Adjectives and Dynamic Compositionality.Guillermo Del Pinal - 2015 - Semantics and Pragmatics 8 (7):1-53.
    This paper defends the view that common nouns have a dual semantic structure that includes extension-determining and non-extension-determining components. I argue that the non-extension-determining components are part of linguistic meaning because they play a key compositional role in certain constructions, especially in privative noun phrases such as "fake gun" and "counterfeit document". Furthermore, I show that if we modify the compositional interpretation rules in certain simple ways, this dual content account of noun phrase modification can be implemented in a type-driven (...)
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  • The Case for Psychologism in Default and Inheritance Reasoning.Francis Jeffry Pelletier & Renée Elio - 2005 - Synthese 146 (1-2):7-35.
    Default reasoning occurs whenever the truth of the evidence available to the reasoner does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion being drawn. Despite this, one is entitled to draw the conclusion “by default” on the grounds that we have no information which would make us doubt that the inference should be drawn. It is the type of conclusion we draw in the ordinary world and ordinary situations in which we find ourselves. Formally speaking, ‘nonmonotonic reasoning’ refers to argumentation in (...)
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  • Generics: Cognition and Acquisition.Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2008 - Philosophical Review 117 (1):1-47.
    Ducks lay eggs' is a true sentence, and `ducks are female' is a false one. Similarly, `mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus' is obviously true, whereas `mosquitoes don't carry the West Nile virus' is patently false. This is so despite the egg-laying ducks' being a subset of the female ones and despite the number of mosquitoes that don't carry the virus being ninety-nine times the number that do. Puzzling facts such as these have made generic sentences defy adequate semantic treatment. (...)
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  • Concepts, Analysis, Generics and the Canberra Plan.Mark Johnston & Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2012 - Philosophical Perspectives 26 (1):113-171.
  • Perspectival Plurality, Relativism, and Multiple Indexing.Dan Zeman - 2018 - In Rob Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern & Hannah Rohde (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21, Vol. 2. Semantics Archives. pp. 1353-1370.
    In this paper I focus on a recently discussed phenomenon illustrated by sentences containing predicates of taste: the phenomenon of " perspectival plurality " , whereby sentences containing two or more predicates of taste have readings according to which each predicate pertains to a different perspective. This phenomenon has been shown to be problematic for (at least certain versions of) relativism. My main aim is to further the discussion by showing that the phenomenon extends to other perspectival expressions than predicates (...)
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  • Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung 21.Rob Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern & Hannah Rohde (eds.) - 2018 - Semantics Archives.
    The present volume contains a collection of papers presented at the 21st annual meeting “Sinn und Bedeutung” of the Gesellschaft fur Semantik, which was held at the University of Edinburgh on September 4th–6th, 2016. The Sinn und Bedeutung conferences are one of the leading international venues for research in formal semantics.
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  • Generic One, Arbitrary PRO, and the First Person.Friederike Moltmann - 2006 - Natural Language Semantics 14 (3):257–281.
    The generic pronoun 'one' (or its empty counterpart, arbitrary PRO) exhibits a range of properties that show a special connection to the first person, or rather the relevant intentional agent (speaker, addressee, or described agent). The paper argues that generic 'one' involves generic quantification in which the predicate is applied to a given entity ‘as if’ to the relevant agent himself. This is best understood in terms of simulation, a central notion in some recent developments in the philosophy of mind (...)
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  • Far From Obvious: The Semantics of Locative Indefinites.Sela Mador-Haim & Yoad Winter - 2015 - Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (5):437-476.
    Simple locative sentences show a variety of pseudo-quantificational interpretations. Some locatives give the impression of universal quantification over parts of objects, others involve existential quantification, and yet others cannot be characterized by either of these quantificational terms. This behavior is explained by virtually all semantic theories of locatives. What has not been previously observed is that similar quantificational variability is also exhibited by locative sentences containing indefinites with the ‘a’ article. This phenomenon is especially problematic for traditional existential treatments of (...)
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  • Children's Developing Intuitions About the Truth Conditions and Implications of Novel Generics Versus Quantified Statements.Amanda C. Brandone, Susan A. Gelman & Jenna Hedglen - 2015 - Cognitive Science 39 (4):711-738.
    Generic statements express generalizations about categories and present a unique semantic profile that is distinct from quantified statements. This paper reports two studies examining the development of children's intuitions about the semantics of generics and how they differ from statements quantified by all, most, and some. Results reveal that, like adults, preschoolers recognize that generics have flexible truth conditions and are capable of representing a wide range of prevalence levels; and interpret novel generics as having near-universal prevalence implications. Results further (...)
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  • Experience, Evaluation and Faultless Disagreement.Alex Anthony - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (6):686-722.
    In the last decade there has been a torrent of work at the intersection of philosophy and linguistics on predicates of personal taste, subjective expressions like fun and tasty that are used to express opinions rather than matters of fact. In each section of this paper I discuss a phenomenon that has been largely overlooked in the literature on PPTs. In Section 1, I identify a neglected experiential reading of these adjectives. All other theories of expressions like fun take them (...)
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  • Knowing Facts and Believing Propositions: A Solution to the Problem of Doxastic Shift.A. Moffett Marc - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 115 (1):81-97.
    The Problem of Doxastic Shift may be stated as a dilemma: on the one hand, the distribution of nominal complements of the form 'the φ that p' strongly suggests that 'that'-clauses cannot be univocally assigned propositional denotations; on the other hand, facts about quantification strongly suggest that 'that'-clauses must be assigned univocal denotations. I argue that the Problem may be solved by defining the extension of a proposition to be a set of facts or, more generally, conditions. Given this, the (...)
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  • Wh-fronting.Seth Cable - 2008 - In Lisa Matthewson (ed.), Quantification: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Emerald. pp. 64--105.
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  • No Alternative to Alternatives.A. Cohen - 2009 - Journal of Semantics 26 (1):1-48.
    Rooth's theory of focus requires, in addition to the ordinary semantic value of an expression, the focus semantic value, which is a set of alternatives generated by focus. Rooth claims that the union of the focus semantic value is accommodated into the restrictor of an adverbial quantifier. More recently, however, some researchers have argued convincingly that what is accommodated is, in fact, the existential presupposition induced by focus. It would appear, then, that there is no need for assuming the focus (...)
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  • Mass/Count Variation: A Mereological, Two-Dimensional Semantics.Peter R. Sutton & Hana Filip - 2016 - The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 11.
    We argue that two types of context are central to grounding the semantics for the mass/count distinction. We combine and develop the accounts of Rothstein and Landman, which emphasize overlap at a context. We also adopt some parts of Chierchia’s account which uses precisifying contexts. We unite these strands in a two-dimensional semantics that covers a wide range of the puzzling variation data in mass/count lexicalization. Most importantly, it predicts where we should expect to find such variation for some classes (...)
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  • Generic Statements Require Little Evidence for Acceptance but Have Powerful Implications.Andrei Cimpian, Amanda C. Brandone & Susan A. Gelman - 2010 - Cognitive Science 34 (8):1452-1482.
    Generic statements (e.g., “Birds lay eggs”) express generalizations about categories. In this paper, we hypothesized that there is a paradoxical asymmetry at the core of generic meaning, such that these sentences have extremely strong implications but require little evidence to be judged true. Four experiments confirmed the hypothesized asymmetry: Participants interpreted novel generics such as “Lorches have purple feathers” as referring to nearly all lorches, but they judged the same novel generics to be true given a wide range of prevalence (...)
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  • Précis of Semantic Cognition: A Parallel Distributed Processing Approach.Timothy T. Rogers & James L. McClelland - 2008 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (6):689-714.
    In this prcis we focus on phenomena central to the reaction against similarity-based theories that arose in the 1980s and that subsequently motivated the approach to semantic knowledge. Specifically, we consider (1) how concepts differentiate in early development, (2) why some groupings of items seem to form or coherent categories while others do not, (3) why different properties seem central or important to different concepts, (4) why children and adults sometimes attest to beliefs that seem to contradict their direct experience, (...)
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  • Ceteris Paribus Hedges: Causal Voodoo That Works.Michael Strevens - 2012 - Journal of Philosophy 109 (11):652-675.
    What do the words "ceteris paribus" add to a causal hypothesis, that is, to a generalization that is intended to articulate the consequences of a causal mechanism? One answer, which looks almost too good to be true, is that a ceteris paribus hedge restricts the scope of the hypothesis to those cases where nothing undermines, interferes with, or undoes the effect of the mechanism in question, even if the hypothesis's own formulator is otherwise unable to specify fully what might constitute (...)
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  • Generics and the Ways of Normality.Bernard Nickel - 2008 - Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (6):629-648.
    I contrast two approaches to the interpretation of generics such as ‘ravens are black:’ majority-based views, on which they are about what is the case most of the time, and inquiry-based views, on which they are about a feature we focus on in inquiry. I argue that majority-based views face far more systematic counterexamples than has previously been supposed. They cannot account for generics about kinds with multiple characteristic properties, such as ‘elephants live in Africa and Asia.’ I then go (...)
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  • Two Kinds of Universals and Two Kinds of Collections.Friederike Moltmann - 2004 - Linguistics and Philosophy 27 (6):739 - 776.
    This paper argues for an ontological distinction between two kinds of universals, 'kinds of tropes' such as 'wisdom' and properties such as 'the property of being wise'. It argues that the distinction is parallel to that between two kinds of collections, pluralities such as 'the students' and collective objects such as 'the class'. The paper argues for the priortity of distributive readings with pluralities on the basis of predicates of extent or shape, such 'large' or 'long'.
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  • A Dilemma About Kinds and Kind Terms.T. Parent - forthcoming - Synthese:1-20.
    'The kind Lion' denotes a kind. Yet many generics are thought to denote kinds also, like the subject-terms in 'The lion has a mane', 'Dinosaurs are extinct', and 'The potato was cultivated in Ireland by the end of the 17th century.' This view may be adequate for the linguist's overall purposes--however, if we limit our attention to the theory of reference, it seems unworkable. The problem is that what is often predicated of kinds is not what is predicated of the (...)
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  • Water and Ice.Adam Sennet - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (3):629 - 634.
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  • The Semantics and Ontology of The Average American.Collins John - 2017 - Journal of Semantics 34 (3):373-405.
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  • Simple Generics.David Liebesman - 2011 - Noûs 45 (3):409-442.
    Consensus has it that generic sentences such as “Dogs bark” and “Birds fly” contain, at the level of logical form, an unpronounced generic operator: Gen. On this view, generics have a tripartite structure similar to overtly quantified sentences such as “Most dogs bark” and “Typically, birds fly”. I argue that Gen doesn’t exist and that generics have a simple bipartite structure on par with ordinary atomic sentences such as “Homer is drinking”. On my view, the subject terms of generics are (...)
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  • Concept Types and Determination.S. Lobner - 2011 - Journal of Semantics 28 (3):279-333.
    The article offers a systematic account of four basic types of nouns, of four basic types of nominal determination and of the interaction of noun type and determination type. The four basic noun types are sortal, individual, relational and functional; they correspond to the four logical types 〈e,t〉, e, 〈e,〈e,t〉〉 and 〈e,e〉 on the one hand, and to four types of concepts on the other. The four basic types of nominal determination are singular definite, indefinite (a variety of determinations including (...)
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  • Triviality and Interrogative Embedding: Context Sensitivity, Factivity, and Neg-Raising.Clemens Mayr - forthcoming - Natural Language Semantics:1-52.
    Why do predicates like know embed both declarative and interrogative clauses, whereas closely related ones like believe only embed the former? The standard approach following Grimshaw to this issue has been to specify lexically for each predicate which type of complement clause it can combine with. This view is challenged by predicates such as be certain, which embed interrogative clauses only in certain contexts. To deal with this issue, this paper proposes a novel, unified semantics for declarative and interrogative embedding (...)
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  • Agency, Argument Structure, and Causal Inference.Alice Gb ter Meulen - 2008 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (6):728-729.
    Logically, weighting is transitive, but similarity is not, so clustering cannot be either. Entailments must help a child to review attribute lists more efficiently. Children's understanding of exceptions to generic claims precedes their ability to articulate explanations. So agency, as enabling constraint, may show coherent covariation with attributes, as mere extensional, observable effect of intensional entailments.
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  • The Character of Natural Language Semantics.Paul M. Pietroski - 2003 - In Alex Barber (ed.), Epistemology of Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 217--256.
    Paul M. Pietroski, University of Maryland I had heard it said that Chomsky’s conception of language is at odds with the truth-conditional program in semantics. Some of my friends said it so often that the point—or at least a point—finally sunk in.
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