Superplurals in English

Analysis 68 (3):186–197 (2008)
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Abstract

where ‘aa’ is a plural term, and ‘F’ a plural predicate. Following George Boolos (1984) and others, many philosophers and logicians also think that plural expressions should be analysed as not introducing any new ontological commitments to some sort of ‘plural entities’, but rather as involving a new form of reference to objects to which we are already committed (for an overview and further details, see Linnebo 2004). For instance, the plural term ‘aa’ refers to Alice, Bob and Charlie simultaneously, and the plural predicate ‘F’ is true of some things just in case these things cooperate. A natural question that arises is whether the step from the singular to the plural can be iterated. Are there terms that stand to ordinary plural terms the way ordinary plural terms stand to singular terms? Let’s call such terms superplural. A superplural term would thus, loosely speaking, refer to several ‘pluralities’ at once, much as an ordinary plural term refers to several objects at once.1 Further, let’s call a predicate superplural if it can be predicated of superplural terms. It is reasonably straightforward to devise a formal logic of superplural terms, superplural predicates, and even superplural quantifiers (see Rayo 2006). But does this formal logic reflect any features of natural languages? In particular, does ordinary English contain superplural terms and predicates? The purpose of this article is to address these questions. We examine some earlier arguments for the existence of superplural expressions in English and find them to be either..

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Author Profiles

Øystein Linnebo
University of Oslo
David Nicolas
École Normale Supérieure

References found in this work

Composition as a fiction.Gideon Rosen & Cian Dorr - 2002 - In Richard Gale (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Metaphysics. Blackwell. pp. 151--174.
Plural predication.Thomas J. McKay - 2006 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Absolute generality.Agustín Rayo & Gabriel Uzquiano (eds.) - 2006 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The calculus of individuals and its uses.Henry S. Leonard & Nelson Goodman - 1940 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 5 (2):45-55.

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