We are no plural subject

ProtoSociology 35:167-196 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In "On Social Facts" (1989) and subsequent works, Margaret Gilbert has suggested a plural subject account of the semantics of ‘we’ that claims that a central or standard use of ‘we’ is to refer to an existing or anticipated plural subject. This contrasts with the more general approach to treat plural pronouns as expressions referring to certain pluralities. I argue that (i) the plural subject approach cannot account for certain syntactic phenomena and that (ii) the sense of intimacy, which Gilbert cites as evidence for her plural subject account, has a different source than the existence of joint commitments constituting a respective plural subject. Moreover, (iii) there is a wide varie-ty of phenomena in the linguistic record, which, while not constituting conclusive evidence against the plural subject account, nevertheless, are dealt with better by the plurality account. ‘We’ thus refers to pluralities, which may or may not be plural subjects. The precise analysis of ‘we’ thus reveals a multi-layered ontology of groups.

Similar books and articles

We and the plural subject.Boudewijn de Bruin - 2009 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 39 (2):235-259.
The Demos as a Plural Subject.Bas Leijssenaar - 2017 - Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy 46 (1):37-64.
Two interpretations of Gilbert’s plural-subj.Giulia Lasagni - 2022 - Rivista di Estetica 80:115-129.
The Demos as a Plural Subject.Bas Leijssenaar - 2017 - Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy 16 (1):37-64.
Dependent plural pronouns with Skolemized choice functions.Yasutada Sudo - 2014 - Natural Language Semantics 22 (3):265-297.
Relations as Plural-Predications in Plato.Theodore Scaltsas - 2013 - Studia Neoaristotelica 10 (1):28-49.
The subject of “We intend”.Hans Bernhard Schmid - 2018 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 17 (2):231-243.


Added to PP

91 (#192,694)

6 months
434 (#3,917)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Ludger Jansen
PTH Brixen College

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references