The semantics of noun phrases (NPs) is of crucial importance for both philosophy and linguistics. Throughout much of the history of the debate about the semantics of noun phrases there has been an implicit assumption about how they are to be understood. Basically, it is the assumption that NPs come only in two kinds. In this paper we would like to make that assumption explicit and discuss it and its status in the semantics of natural language. We will have a look at how the assumption is to be understood more precisely, what its methodological status should be, whether it has been abandoned in recent work in semantics, and whether it should be abandoned in future work. To do all this, it’s best to start with some historical context.
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