Evaluational adjectives

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (1):1-35 (2021)
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Abstract

This paper demarcates a theoretically interesting class of "evaluational adjectives." This class includes predicates expressing various kinds of normative and epistemic evaluation, such as predicates of personal taste, aesthetic adjectives, moral adjectives, and epistemic adjectives, among others. Evaluational adjectives are distinguished, empirically, in exhibiting phenomena such as discourse-oriented use, felicitous embedding under the attitude verb `find', and sorites-susceptibility in the comparative form. A unified degree-based semantics is developed: What distinguishes evaluational adjectives, semantically, is that they denote context-dependent measure functions ("evaluational perspectives")—context-dependent mappings to degrees of taste, beauty, probability, etc., depending on the adjective. This perspective-sensitivity characterizing the class of evaluational adjectives cannot be assimilated to vagueness, sensitivity to an experiencer argument, or multidimensionality; and it cannot be demarcated in terms of pretheoretic notions of subjectivity, common in the literature. I propose that certain diagnostics for "subjective" expressions be analyzed instead in terms of a precisely specified kind of discourse-oriented use of context-sensitive language. I close by applying the account to `find x PRED' ascriptions.

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Alex Silk
University of Birmingham

Citations of this work

Sorites On What Matters.Theron Pummer - 2022 - In Jeff McMahan, Timothy Campbell, Ketan Ramakrishnan & Jimmy Goodrich (eds.), Ethics and Existence: The Legacy of Derek Parfit. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 498–523.
Expectation Biases and Context Management with Negative Polar Questions.Alex Silk - 2020 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 49 (1):51-92.
Theories of vagueness and theories of law.Alex Silk - 2019 - Legal Theory 25 (2):132-152.
Moral adjectives, judge-dependency and holistic multidimensionality.Federico L. G. Faroldi & Andrés Soria Ruiz - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (7):887-916.

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References found in this work

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Languages and language.David K. Lewis - 1975 - In Keith Gunderson (ed.), Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 3-35.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 46 (4):589-601.

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