Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (4):817-834 (2021)

Vera Flocke
Indiana University, Bloomington
ABSTRACT Generality relativism is the view that any domain of quantification can always be expanded. The view promises to resolve a broad range of paradoxes, but, without an explanation of how domains expand, it sounds very mysterious. Proponents of linguistic versions of generality relativism try to demystify the view by likening domain expansions to semantic change. They think that domains expand when we re-interpret certain terms so that, upon re-interpretation, the quantifiers range over more things. This article makes trouble for linguistic approaches. According to the so-called charge of ineffability, generality relativism cannot be asserted in a coherent manner—given that asserting the view requires generalising over absolutely all domains of quantification. Generality relativists typically try to answer the charge with the help of modal operators; but linguistic approaches interpret these operators in semantically and syntactically idiosyncratic ways. I argue that, because of these commitments, linguistic approaches ultimately do not have a good response to the charge of ineffability.
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DOI 10.1080/00048402.2020.1822894
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