Mind 113 (452):609-681 (2004)

Timothy Smiley
Cambridge University
The history of the idea of predicate is the history of its emancipation. The lesson of this paper is that there are two more steps to take. The first is to recognize that predicates need not have a fixed degree, the second that they can combine with plural terms. We begin by articulating the notion of a multigrade predicate: one that takes variably many arguments. We counter objections to the very idea posed by Peirce, Dummett's Frege, and Strawson. We show that the arguments of a multigrade predicate must be grouped into places, with perhaps several arguments occupying positions at a place. Variability may relate to places or positions. Russell's multiple judgement predicate turns out to be just one example of a family-'is necessarily true of', 'is said of', 'is instantiated by' and so on-of predicates with variably many places. Our main concern, however, is lists. Any adequate account of lists must include plural as well as singular terms. On one account, lists are mere strings of separate arguments, which occupy variably many positions within a place of a multigrade predicate. A quite different account takes the list itself to be a compound plural term. We compare these rival conceptions, and reach some surprising conclusions. As a coda, we deploy the conceptual apparatus developed in the paper to assess Morton's pioneer system of multigrade logic.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/mind/113.452.609
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,021
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Reference to Numbers in Natural Language.Friederike Moltmann - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (3):499 - 536.
Plural Quantification.Ø Linnebo - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Quantitative Properties.M. Eddon - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (7):633-645.
Axiomatic Theories of Partial Ground I: The Base Theory.Johannes Korbmacher - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 47 (2):161-191.
Superplurals in English.Øystein Linnebo & David Nicolas - 2008 - Analysis 68 (3):186–197.

View all 35 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
161 ( #62,768 of 2,433,531 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #217,362 of 2,433,531 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes