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Simple Generics

Noûs 45 (3):409-442 (2011)

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  1. Generics: Some (Non)Specifics.Annie Bosse - 2021 - Synthese.
    This paper is about an underappreciated aspect of generics: their non-specificity. Many uses of generics, utterances like ‘Seagulls swoop down to steal food’, express non-specific generalisations which do not specify their quantificational force or flavour. I consider whether this non-specificity arises as a by-product of context-sensitivity or semantic incompleteness but argue instead that generics semantically express non-specific generalisations by default as a result of quantifying existentially over more specific ones.
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  • What we can do.Katherine Ritchie - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (4):865-882.
    Plural first-person pronouns have often been ignored in the literature on indexicals and pronouns. The assumption seems to be that we is just the plural of I. So, we can focus on theorizing about singular indexicals and about non-indexical plurals then combine the results to yield a theory of plural indexicals. Here I argue that the “divide and conquer” strategy fails. By considering data involving plurals, generics, and complex demonstratives, I argue for a referential semantics on which we can refer (...)
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  • Existence and Number.Kris McDaniel - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (2):209-228.
    The Frege-Russell view is that existence is a second-order property rather than a property of individuals. One of the most compelling arguments for this view is based on the premise that there is an especially close connection between existence and number. The most promising version of this argument is by C.J.F Williams (1981, 1992). In what follows, I argue that this argument fails. I then defend an account according to which both predications of number and existence attribute properties to individuals.
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  • Generically Free Choice.Bernhard Nickel - 2010 - Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (6):479-512.
    This paper discusses free-choice like effects in generics. Just as Jane may drink coffee or tea can be used to convey Jane may drink coffee and Jane may drink tea (she is free to choose ), some generics with disjunctive predicates can be used to convey conjunctions of simpler generics: elephants live in Africa or Asia can be used to convey elephants live in Africa and elephants live in Asia. Investigating these logically slightly more complex generics and especially the free-choice (...)
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  • Generics and the Metaphysics of Kinds.David Liebesman & Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2021 - Philosophy Compass (7):1-14.
    Recent years have seen renewed interest in the semantics of generics. And a relatively mainstream view in this work is that the semantics of generics must appeal to kinds. But what are kinds? Can we learn anything about their nature by looking at how semantic theories of generics appeal to them? In this article, we overview recent work on the semantics of generics and consider their consequences for our understanding of the metaphysics of kinds.
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  • The Copredication Argument.John Collins - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (7):675-702.
    The standard view of truth-conditional semantics is that it is world-involving in the sense that a theory that specifies truth conditions eo ipso is a theory that specifies the way the world must be if the target sentences are to be true. It would appear to follow that the semantic properties of expressions, such as nominals, specify the very worldly objects that make true or false the sentences that host the nominals. Chomsky and others have raised a fundamental complaint against (...)
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  • Limits of Propositionalism.Alex Grzankowski - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (7-8):819-838.
    Propositionalists hold that, fundamentally, all attitudes are propositional attitudes. A number of philosophers have recently called the propositionalist thesis into question. It has been argued, successfully I believe, that there are attitudes that are of or about things but which do not have a propositional content concerning those things. If correct, our theories of mind will include non-propositional attitudes as well as propositional attitudes. In light of this, Sinhababu’s recent attack on anti-propositionalists is noteworthy. The present paper aims to sharpen (...)
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  • Response to Abrusán, Shaw, and Elbourne.Ofra Magidor - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (5):559-586.
    In my book Category Mistakes, I discuss a range of potential accounts of category mistakes and defend a pragmatic, presuppositional account of the phenomenon. Three commentators discuss the book: Márta Abrusán focuses on a comparison between my book and Asher’s Lexical Meaning in Context, suggesting that Asher’s theory has the advantage of accounting not only for category mistakes, but also for additional phenomena such as so-called ‘coertion’ and ‘co-predication’. I argue that Asher’s account of all three phenomena is deficient, and, (...)
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  • Not the Optimistic Type.Ben Caplan, Chris Tillman, Brian McLean & Adam Murray - 2013 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (5):575-589.
    In recent work, Peter Hanks and Scott Soames argue that propositions are types whose tokens are acts, states, or events. Let’s call this view the type view. Hanks and Soames think that one of the virtues of the type view is that it allows them to explain why propositions have semantic properties. But, in this paper, we argue that their explanations aren’t satisfactory. In Section 2, we present the type view. In Section 3, we present one explanation—due to Hanks (2007, (...)
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  • Generic Animalism.Andrew M. Bailey & Peter van Elswyk - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (8):405-429.
    The animalist says we are animals. This thesis is commonly understood as the universal generalization that all human persons are human animals. This article proposes an alternative: the thesis is a generic that admits of exceptions. We defend the resulting view, which we call ‘generic animalism’, and show its aptitude for diagnosing the limits of eight case-based objections to animalism.
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  • The Radical Account of Bare Plural Generics.Anthony Nguyen - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (5):1303-1331.
    Bare plural generic sentences pervade ordinary talk. And yet it is extremely controversial what semantics to assign to such sentences. In this paper, I achieve two tasks. First, I develop a novel classification of the various standard uses to which bare plurals may be put. This “variety data” is important—it gives rise to much of the difficulty in systematically theorizing about bare plurals. Second, I develop a novel account of bare plurals, the radical account. On this account, all bare plurals (...)
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  • Darwin and Moral Realism: Survival of the Iffiest.Knut Olav Skarsaune - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 152 (2):229-243.
    This paper defends moral realism against Sharon Street’s “Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value” (this journal, 2006). I argue by separation of cases: From the assumption that a certain normative claim is true, I argue that the first horn of the dilemma is tenable for realists. Then, from the assumption that the same normative claim is false, I argue that the second horn is tenable. Either way, then, the Darwinian dilemma does not add anything to realists’ epistemic worries.
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  • Attitudes Towards Objects.Alex Grzankowski - 2016 - Noûs 50 (2):314-328.
    This paper offers a positive account of an important but under-explored class of mental states, non-propositional attitudes such as loving one’s department, liking lattice structures, fearing Freddy Krueger, and hating Sherlock Holmes. In broadest terms, the view reached is a representationalist account guided by two puzzles. The proposal allows one to say in an elegant way what differentiates a propositional attitude from an attitude merely about a proposition. The proposal also allows one to offer a unified account of the non-propositional (...)
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  • Generics Oversimplified.Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2015 - Noûs 49 (1):28-54.
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  • Generics, Content and Cognitive Bias.Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (1):75-93.
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  • Genericity Sans Gen.John Collins - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (1):34-64.
    Generics are exception-admitting generalisations, which find expression in apparently diverse linguistic forms. A standard claim is that there is a hidden linguistic unity to genericity in the form of a covert operator, Gen. This article surveys and rejects a range of considerations that purport to show Gen to be syntactically essential to the explanation of a range of linguistic phenomena connected to genericity. The conclusion reached is that genericity is not a specifically linguistic property insofar as it does not supervene (...)
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  • Generics, Covert Structure and Logical Form.Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2016 - Mind and Language 31 (5):503-529.
    The standard view amongst philosophers of language and linguists is that the logical form of generics is quantificational and contains a covert, unpronounced quantifier expression Gen. Recently, some theorists have begun to question the standard view and rekindle the competing proposal, that generics are a species of kind-predication. These theorists offer some forceful objections to the standard view, and new strategies for dealing with the abundance of linguistic evidence in favour of the standard view. I respond to these objections and (...)
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  • Meaning Transfer Revisited.David Liebesman & Ofra Magidor - 2018 - Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1):254-297.
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  • The Role of Kinds in the Semantics of Ceteris Paribus Laws.Bernhard Nickel - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1729-1744.
    This paper investigates the interaction between semantic theories for cp-laws (roughly, laws that hold “all things equal”) and metaphysical theories of kinds in the special sciences. Its central conclusion is that cp-laws concerning kinds behave differently from cp-laws concerning non-kinds: “ravens are black” which concerns the kind corvus corax, behaves differently from from “albino ravens are white” which concerns the non-kind grouping of albino ravens. I argue that this difference is in the first instance logical: the two sorts of cp-laws (...)
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  • The Property Theory of Musical Works.Philip Letts - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (1):57-69.
    The property theory of musical works says that each musical work is a property that is instantiated by its occurrences, that is, the work's performances and playings. The property theory provides ontological explanations very similar to those given by its popular cousin, the type/token theory of musical works, but it is both simpler and stronger. However, type/token theorists often dismiss the property theory. In this essay, I formulate a version of the property theory that identifies each type with a unique (...)
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  • Kripkean Meta-Semantics and Generalized Rigidity.Christian Nimtz - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (275):332-353.
    The classification-cum-explanation Kripke assigns to rigidity requires the notion to apply to singular and general terms alike. But Kripke's own notion of rigidity is tailor-made for singular terms, and an extensive debate has not secured a general notion of rigidity apt to provide the classification-cum-explanation Kripke aims for. I propose that we look for a Kripkean alternative to generalized rigidity. I argue that on Kripkean premises, natural kind terms and proper names belong to the meta-semantic category of paradigm terms. I (...)
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  • Why so Serious? An Inquiry on Racist Jokes.Luvell Anderson - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  • Generics.Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2012 - In Gillian Russell & Delia Fara (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Language. Routledge. pp. 355--366.
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  • Types, Tokens, and Talk About Musical Works.Julian Dodd & Philip Letts - 2017 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 75 (3):249-263.
    It has recently been suggested that the type/token theorist concerning musical works cannot come up with an adequate semantic theory of those sentences in which we purport to talk about such works. Specifically, it has been claimed that, since types are abstract entities, a type/token theorist can only account for the truth of sentences such as “The 1812 Overture is very loud” and “Bach's Two Part Invention in C has an F-sharp in its fourth measure” by adopting an untenable semantic (...)
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  • Some Puzzles About Some Puzzles About Belief.David Liebesman - 2012 - Analysis 72 (3):608-618.
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  • Copredication and Property Inheritance.David Liebesman & Ofra Magidor - 2017 - Philosophical Issues 27 (1):131-166.
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  • Constitutivism and Generics.Samuel Gavin - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (3):1015-1036.
    Constitutivism is a family of theories of normativity, especially in metaethics, that rely on the concept of constitutive norms: norms that are grounded in constitutive features of the kind of thing to which they apply. In this paper, I present two conditions that any constitutivism must meet in its account of constitutive norms, if it is to remain true to its motivations: the constitutivity and broad normativity conditions. I argue that all extant accounts of constitutive norms fail to meet these (...)
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  • A New Look at the ‘Generic Overgeneralisation’ Effect.Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga, Linnaea Stockall & Napoleon Katsos - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-27.
    While generic generalisations have been studied by linguists and philosophers for decades, they have only recently become the focus of concentrated interest by cognitive and developmental p...
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  • The Sophisticated Kind Theory.Matt Teichman - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-47.
    Generic sentences are commonsense statements of the form ‘Fs are G,’ like ‘Bears have fur’ or ‘Rattlesnakes are poisonous.’ Kind theories hold that rather than being general statements about indivi...
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  • The Mark of the Plural: Generic Generalizations and Race.Daniel Wodak & Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2017 - In Paul C. Taylor, Linda Martín Alcoff & Luvell Anderson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race. Routledge. pp. 277-289.
    We argue that generic generalizations about racial groups are pernicious in what they communicate (both to members of that racial group and to members of other racial groups), and may be central to the construction of social categories like racial groups. We then consider how we should change and challenge uses of generic generalizations about racial groups.
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  • Causal Reasoning in Economics: A Selective Exploration of Semantic, Epistemic and Dynamical Aspects.François Claveau - unknown
    Economists reason causally. Like many other scientists, they aim at formulating justified causal claims about their object of study. This thesis contributes to our understanding of how causal reasoning proceeds in economics. By using the research on the causes of unemployment as a case study, three questions are adressed. What are the meanings of causal claims? How can a causal claim be adequately supported by evidence? How are causal beliefs affected by incoming facts? In the process of answering these semantic, (...)
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  • Leslie on Generics.Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (9):2493-2512.
    This paper offers three objections to Leslie’s recent and already influential theory of generics :375–403, 2007a, Philos Rev 117:1–47, 2008): her proposed metaphysical truth-conditions are subject to systematic counter-examples, the proposed disquotational semantics fails, and there is evidence that generics do not express cognitively primitive generalisations.
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  • The Semantics and Ontology of The Average American.Collins John - 2017 - Journal of Semantics 34 (3):373-405.
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  • Non-Mereological Pluralistic Supersubstantivalism: An Alternative Perspective on the Matter–Spacetime Relationship.Travis Dumsday - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):183-203.
    In both the historical and contemporary literature on the metaphysics of space, a core dispute is that between relationism and substantivalism. One version of the latter is supersubstantivalism, according to which space is the only kind of substance, such that what we think of as individual material objects are actually just parts of spacetime which instantiate certain properties. If those parts are ontologically dependent on spacetime as a whole, then we arrive at an ontology with only a single genuinely independent (...)
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  • Counting Things That Could Exist.Tobias Rosefeld - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (266):127-147.
    The paper deals with cases of counting things that could exist but do not actually exist that resist common strategies for actualist paraphrases and that play an important role in motivating Timothy Williamson's ontology of contingently concrete objects. It is argued that these cases should be understood as cases of quantification not over individual possible objects but rather over kinds of objects, some of which do not actually have instances. This claim is motivated by a comparison with other cases of (...)
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  • Emergent Substances, Physical Properties, Action Explanations.Jeff Engelhardt - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (6):1125-1146.
    This paper proposes that if individual X ‘inherits’ property F from individual Y, we should be leery of explanations that appeal to X’s being F. This bears on what I’ll call “emergent substance dualism”, the view that human persons or selves are metaphysically fundamental or “new kinds of things with new kinds of causal powers” even though they depend in some sense on physical particulars :5–23, 2006; Personal agency. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008). Two of the most prominent advocates of (...)
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  • The Meaning of Generics.Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (8):e12431.
    This article discusses recent theories of the meaning of generics. The discussion is centred on how the theories differ in their approach to addressing the primary difficulty in providing a theory of generic meaning: The notoriously complex ways in which the truth conditions of generics seem to vary. In addition, the article summarizes considerations for and against each theory.
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  • Generics in Context.Rachel Sterken - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
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  • Children's Developing Intuitions About the Truth Conditions and Implications of Novel Generics Versus Quantified Statements.Amanda C. Brandone, Susan A. Gelman & Jenna Hedglen - 2015 - Cognitive Science 39 (4):711-738.
    Generic statements express generalizations about categories and present a unique semantic profile that is distinct from quantified statements. This paper reports two studies examining the development of children's intuitions about the semantics of generics and how they differ from statements quantified by all, most, and some. Results reveal that, like adults, preschoolers recognize that generics have flexible truth conditions and are capable of representing a wide range of prevalence levels; and interpret novel generics as having near-universal prevalence implications. Results further (...)
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  • On Humean Explanation and Practical Normativity.Graham Hubbs - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (1):78-95.
    If Hume is correct that the descriptive and the normative are “entirely different” matters, then it would seem to follow that endorsing a given account of action-explanation does not restrict the account of practical normativity one may simultaneously endorse. In this essay, I challenge the antecedent of this conditional by targeting its consequent. Specifically, I argue that if one endorses a Humean account of action-explanation, which many find attractive, one is thereby committed to a Humean account of practical normativity, which (...)
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  • Genericity as a Unitary Psychological Phenomenon: An Argument From Linguistic Diversity.John Collins - 2015 - Ratio 28 (4):369-394.
    So-called ‘generics’ are members of a diverse class of constructions that express generalisations that do not directly involve any precise cardinality of individuals, but rather the kinds or ‘typical’ or ‘normal’ members of the kinds contributed by arguments of the predicate. The paper argues that genericity as a unitary phenomenon of human thought has a psychological, rather than linguistic, basis. This claim is argued for by way of a survey of the linguistic diversity of the forms of genericity, and the (...)
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  • Dispositions and Generics.Ryan Wasserman - 2011 - Philosophical Perspectives 25 (1):425-453.
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  • Generic Generalizations.Sarah-Jane Leslie & Adam Lerner - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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