Generics, Conservativity, and Kind-Subordination

Philosophers' Imprint 18 (2018)
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Abstract

Many approaches to the semantics of generic sentences posit an unpronounced quantifier gen. However, while overt quantifiers are conservative, gen does not seem to be. A quantifier Q is conservative iff instances of the following schemas are equivalent: Q As are F and Q As are As that are F. All ravens are black is obviously equivalent to All ravens are ravens that are black, yet ravens are black is not equivalent to ravens are ravens that are black. This may cast doubt on theviability of quantificational analyses of generics. This paper proposes a theory of why such “conservativity” generics are problematic that is compatible with the conservativity of gen and also accounts for perennially troublesome examples such as books are paperbacks and bees are workers.

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Bernhard Nickel
Harvard University

Citations of this work

Simple Generics.David Liebesman - 2011 - Noûs 45 (3):409-442.
Falsifying generic stereotypes.Olivier Lemeire - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (7):2293-2312.
Hyperintensionality and Normativity.Federico L. G. Faroldi - 2019 - Cham, Switzerland: Springer Verlag.
Generics as instructions.Samia Hesni - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12587-12602.

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