Plural expressions found in natural languages allow us to talk about many objects simultaneously. Plural logic — a logical system that takes plurals at face value — has seen a surge of interest in recent years. This book explores its broader significance for philosophy, logic, and linguistics. What can plural logic do for us? Are the bold claims made on its behalf correct? After introducing plural logic and its main applications, the book provides a systematic analysis of the relation between (...) this logic and other theoretical frameworks such as set theory, mereology, higher-order logic, and modal logic. The applications of plural logic rely on two assumptions, namely that this logic is ontologically innocent and has great expressive power. These assumptions are shown to be problematic. The result is a more nuanced picture of plural logic's applications than has been given thus far. Questions about the correct logic of plurals play a central role in the final chapters, where traditional plural logic is rejected in favor of a "critical" alternative. The most striking feature of this alternative is that there is no universal plurality. This leads to a novel approach to the relation between the many and the one. In particular, critical plural logic paves the way for an account of sets capable of solving the set-theoretic paradoxes. (shrink)
Semantic theories based on a hierarchy of types have prominently been used to defend the possibility of unrestricted quantification. However, they also pose a prima facie problem for it: each quantifier ranges over at most one level of the hierarchy and is therefore not unrestricted. It is difficult to evaluate this problem without a principled account of what it is for a quantifier to be unrestricted. Drawing on an insight of Russell’s about the relationship between quantification and the structure of (...) predication, we offer such an account. We use this account to examine the problem in three different type-theoretic settings, which are increasingly permissive with respect to predication. We conclude that unrestricted quantification is available in all but the most permissive kind of type theory. (shrink)
Plural logic is widely assumed to have two important virtues: ontological innocence and determinacy. It is claimed to be innocent in the sense that it incurs no ontological commitments beyond those already incurred by the first-order quantifiers. It is claimed to be determinate in the sense that it is immune to the threat of non-standard interpretations that confronts higher-order logics on their more traditional, set-based semantics. We challenge both claims. Our challenge is based on a Henkin-style semantics for plural logic (...) that does not resort to sets or set-like objects to interpret plural variables, but adopts the view that a plural variable has many objects as its values. Using this semantics, we also articulate a generalized notion of ontological commitment which enables us to develop some ideas of earlier critics of the alleged ontological innocence of plural logic. (shrink)
In linguistics, the dominant approach to the semantics of plurals appeals to mereology. However, this approach has received strong criticisms from philosophical logicians who subscribe to an alternative framework based on plural logic. In the first part of the article, we offer a precise characterization of the mereological approach and the semantic background in which the debate can be meaningfully reconstructed. In the second part, we deal with the criticisms and assess their logical, linguistic, and philosophical significance. We identify four (...) main objections and show how each can be addressed. Finally, we compare the strengths and shortcomings of the mereological approach and plural logic. Our conclusion is that the former remains a viable and well-motivated framework for the analysis of plurals. (shrink)
Semantic interpretations of both natural and formal languages are usually taken to involve the specification of a domain of entities with respect to which the sentences of the language are to be evaluated. A question that has received much attention of late is whether there is unrestricted quantification, quantification over a domain comprising absolutely everything there is. Is there a discourse or inquiry that has absolute generality? After framing the debate, this article provides an overview of the main arguments for (...) and against the possibility of unrestricted quantification, highlighting some of the broader implications of the debate. (shrink)
What is the relation between some things and the set of these things? Mathematical practice does not provide a univocal answer. On the one hand, it relies on ordinary plural talk, which is implicitly committed to a traditional form of plural logic. On the other hand, mathematical practice favors a liberal view of definitions which entails that traditional plural logic must be restricted. We explore this predicament and develop a “critical” alternative to traditional plural logic.
Quine maintained that philosophical and scientific theorizing should be conducted in an untyped language, which has just one style of variables and quantifiers. By contrast, typed languages, such as those advocated by Frege and Russell, include multiple styles of variables and matching kinds of quantification. Which form should our theories take? In this article, I argue that expressivity does not favour typed languages over untyped ones.
In light of the close connection between the ontological hierarchy of set theory and the ideological hierarchy of type theory, Øystein Linnebo and Agustín Rayo have recently offered an argument in favour of the view that the set-theoretic universe is open-ended. In this paper, we argue that, since the connection between the two hierarchies is indeed tight, any philosophical conclusions cut both ways. One should either hold that both the ontological hierarchy and the ideological hierarchy are open-ended, or that neither (...) is. If there is reason to accept the view that the set-theoretic universe is open-ended, that will be because such a view is the most compelling one to adopt on the purely ontological front. (shrink)
According to the singular conception of reality, there are objects and there are singular properties, i.e. properties that are instantiated by objects separately. It has been argued that semantic considerations about plurals give us reasons to embrace a plural conception of reality. This is the view that, in addition to singular properties, there are plural properties, i.e. properties that are instantiated jointly by many objects. In this article, I propose and defend a novel semantic account of plurals which dispenses with (...) plural properties and thus undermines the semantic argument in favor of the plural conception of reality. (shrink)
A prominent objection against the logicality of second-order logic is the so-called Overgeneration Argument. However, it is far from clear how this argument is to be understood. In the first part of the article, we examine the argument and locate its main source, namely, the alleged entanglement of second-order logic and mathematics. We then identify various reasons why the entanglement may be thought to be problematic. In the second part of the article, we take a metatheoretic perspective on the matter. (...) We prove a number of results establishing that the entanglement is sensitive to the kind of semantics used for second-order logic. These results provide evidence that by moving from the standard set-theoretic semantics for second-order logic to a semantics which makes use of higher-order resources, the entanglement either disappears or may no longer be in conflict with the logicality of second-order logic. (shrink)
Sentences that exhibit sensitivity to order (e.g. 'John and Mary arrived at school in that order' and 'Mary and John arrived at school in that order') present a challenge for the standard formulation of plural logic. In response, some authors have advocated new versions of plural logic based on fine-grained notions of plural reference, such as serial reference (Hewitt 2012) and articulated reference (Ben-Yami 2013). The aim of this article is to show that sensitivity to order should be accounted for (...) without altering the standard formulation of plural logic. In particular, sensitivity to order does not call for a fine-grained notion of plural reference. We point out that the phenomenon in question is quite broad and that current proposals are not equipped to deal with the full range of cases in which order plays a role. Then we develop an alternative and unified account, which locates the phenomenon not in the way in which plural terms can refer, but in the meaning of special expressions such as 'in that order' and 'respectively'. (shrink)
What is absolutely unrestricted quantification? We distinguish two theoretical roles and identify two conceptions of absolute generality: maximally strong generality and maximally inclusive generality. We also distinguish two corresponding kinds of absolute domain. A maximally strong domain contains every potential counterexample to a generalisation. A maximally inclusive domain is such that no domain extends it. We argue that both conceptions of absolute generality are legitimate and investigate the relations between them. Although these conceptions coincide in standard settings, we show how (...) they diverge under more complex assumptions about the structure of meaningful predication, such as cumulative type theory. We conclude by arguing that maximally strong generality is the more theoretically valuable conception. (shrink)
In the semantic debate about plurals, pluralism is the view that a plural term denotes some things in the domain of quantification and a plural predicate denotes a plural property, i.e. a property that can be instantiated by many things jointly. According to a particular version of this view, untyped pluralism, there is no type distinction between objects and properties. In this article, I argue against untyped pluralism by showing that it is subject to a variant of a Russell-style argument (...) put forth by Timothy Williamson and that it clashes with a plural version of Cantor’s theorem. I conclude that pluralists should postulate a type distinction between objects and properties. (shrink)
A well-known proof by Alonzo Church, first published in 1963 by Frederic Fitch, purports to show that all truths are knowable only if all truths are known. This is the Paradox of Knowability. If we take it, quite plausibly, that we are not omniscient, the proof appears to undermine metaphysical doctrines committed to the knowability of truth, such as semantic anti-realism. Since its rediscovery by Hart and McGinn (1976), many solutions to the paradox have been offered. In this article, we (...) present a new proof to the effect that not all truths are knowable, which rests on different assumptions from those of the original argument published by Fitch. We highlight the general form of the knowability paradoxes, and argue that anti-realists who favour either an hierarchical or an intuitionistic approach to the Paradox of Knowability are confronted with a dilemma: they must either give up anti-realism or opt for a highly controversial interpretation of the principle that every truth is knowable. (shrink)
The paradox that appears under Burali-Forti’s name in many textbooks of set theory is a clever piece of reasoning leading to an unproblematic theorem. The theorem asserts that the ordinals do not form a set. For such a set would be—absurdly—an ordinal greater than any ordinal in the set of all ordinals. In this article, we argue that the paradox of Burali-Forti is first and foremost a problem about concept formation by abstraction, not about sets. We contend, furthermore, that some (...) hundred years after its discovery the paradox is still without any fully satisfactory resolution. A survey of the current literature reveals one key assumption of the paradox that has gone unquestioned, namely the assumption that ordinals are objects. Taking the lead from Russell’s no class theory, we interpret talk of ordinals as an efficient way of conveying higher-order logical truths. The resulting theory of ordinals is formally adequate to standard intuitions about ordinals, expresses a conception of ordinal number capable of resolving Burali-Forti’s paradox, and offers a novel contribution to the longstanding program of reducing mathematics to higher-order logic. (shrink)
This chapter provides an overview of the philosophical and linguistic debate about the logic of plurals. We present the most prominent singularizing analyses of plurals as well as the main criticisms that such analyses have received. We then introduce an alternative approach to plurals known as plural logic, focusing on the question whether plural logic can count as pure logic.