Citations of:
Reference to numbers in natural language
Philosophical Studies 162 (3):499  536 (2013)
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NPs with intensional relative clauses such as 'the book John needs to write' pose a significant challenge for semantic theory. Such NPs act like referential terms, yet they do not stand for a particular actual object. This paper will develop a semantic analysis of such NPs on the basis of the notion of a variable object. The analysis avoids a range of difficulties that a more standard analysis based on the notion of an individual concept would face. Most importantly, unlike (...) 

A core commitment of Bob Hale and Crispin Wright’s neologicism is their invocation of Frege’s Constraint—roughly, the requirement that the core empirical applications for a class of numbers be “built directly into” their formal characterization. According to these neologicists, if legitimate, Frege’s Constraint adjudicates in favor of their preferred foundation—Hume’s Principle—and against alternatives, such as the Dedekind–Peano axioms. In this paper, we consider a recent argument for legitimating Frege’s Constraint due to Hale, according to which the primary empirical application of (...) 

In this thesis, I aim to motivate a particular philosophy of mathematics characterised by the following three claims. First, mathematical sentences are generally speaking false because mathematical objects do not exist. Second, people typically use mathematical sentences to communicate content that does not imply the existence of mathematical objects. Finally, in using mathematical language in this way, speakers are not doing anything out of the ordinary: they are performing straightforward assertions. In Part I, I argue that the role played by (...) 

Frege proposed that sentences like ‘The number of planets is eight’ be analysed as identity statements in which the number words refer to numbers. Recently, Friederike Moltmann argued that, pace Frege, such sentences be analysed as socalled specificational sentences in which the number words have the same nonreferring semantic function as the number word ‘eight’ in ‘There are eight planets’. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, I argue that Moltmann fails to show that such sentences should be analysed (...) 

This article investigates the semantics of sentences that express numerical averages, focusing initially on cases such as 'The average American has 2.3 children'. Such sentences have been used both by linguists and philosophers to argue for a disjuncture between semantics and ontology. For example, Noam Chomsky and Norbert Hornstein have used them to provide evidence against the hypothesis that natural language semantics includes a reference relation holding between words and objects in the world, whereas metaphysicians such as Joseph Melia and (...) 

There’s the question of what there is, and then there’s the question of what ultimately exists. Many contend that, once we have this distinction clearly in mind, we can see that there is no sensible debate to be had about whether there are such things as properties or tables or numbers, and that the only ontological question worth debating is whether such things are ultimate (in one or another sense). I argue that this is a mistake. Taking debates about ordinary (...) 



Frege famously held that numbers play the role of objects in our language and thought, and that this role is on display when we use sentences like "The number of Jupiter's moons is four". I argue that this role is an example of a general pattern that also encompasses persons, times, locations, reasons, causes, and ways of appearing or acting. These things are 'objects' simply in the sense that they are answers to questions: they are the sort of thing we (...) 



How hard is it to answer an ontological question? Ontological trivialism,, inspired by Carnap’s internalexternal distinction among “questions of existence”, replies “very easy.” According to, almost every ontologically disputed entitytriviallyexists. has been defended by many, including Schiffer and Schaffer. In this paper, I will take issue with. After introducing the view in the context of CarnapQuine dispute and presenting two arguments for it, I will discuss Hofweber’s argument against and explain why it fails. Next, I will introduce a modified version (...) 

Cameron, Eklund, Hofweber, Linnebo, Russell and Sider have written critical essays on my book, The Construction of Logical Space (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). Here I offer some replies. 

According to what I call the Traditional View, there is a fundamental semantic distinction between counting and measuring, which is reflected in two fundamentally different sorts of scales: discrete cardinality scales and dense measurement scales. Opposed to the Traditional View is a thesis known as the Universal Density of Measurement: there is no fundamental semantic distinction between counting and measuring, and all natural language scales are dense. This paper considers a new argument for the latter, based on a puzzle I (...) 

A realist view of numbers often rests on the following thesis: statements like ‘The number of moons of Jupiter is four’ are identity statements in which the copula is flanked by singular terms whose semantic function consists in referring to a number (henceforth: Identity). On the basis of Identity the realists argue that the assertive use of such statements commits us to numbers. Recently, some antirealists have disputed this argument. According to them, Identity is false, and, thus, we may deny (...) 

On the one hand they seem to be quite obviously truth conditionally equivalent, but on the other hand they seem to be about different things. Whereas (1) is about Jupiter and its moons, (2) is about numbers. In particular, the word â€˜fourâ€™ appears in (1) in the position of an adjective or determiner, whereas it seems to be a name for a number in (2). Furthermore, (2) appears to be an identity statement claiming that what two number terms stand for (...) 

Pairs of sentences like the following pose a problem for ontology: (1) Jupiter has four moons. (2) The number of moons of Jupiter is four. (2) is intuitively a trivial paraphrase of (1). And yet while (1) seems ontologically innocent, (2) appears to imply the existence of numbers. Thomas Hofweber proposes that we can resolve the puzzle by recognizing that sentence (2) is syntactically derived from, and has the same meaning as, sentence (1). Despite appearances, the expressions ‘the number of (...) 



Platonism is the view that there exist such things as abstract objects — where an abstract object is an object that does not exist in space or time and which is therefore entirely nonphysical and nonmental. Platonism in this sense is a contemporary view. It is obviously related to the views of Plato in important ways, but it is not entirely clear that Plato endorsed this view, as it is defined here. In order to remain neutral on this question, the (...) 

Natural language appears to allow the ascription of properties of numeral symbols to the denotation of number referring phrases. The paper describes the phenomenon and presents two alternative explanations for why it obtains. One combining an intuitive semantics for number referring phrases and a predicateshifting mechanism, the other assigning number referring phrases a structured denotation consisting of two parts: a mathematical object (the number) and a contextually determined numeral symbol. Some preliminary observations in favor of the second analysis are offered. 

There are multiple formal characterizations of the natural numbers available. Despite being interderivable, they plausibly codify different possible applications of the naturals – doing basic arithmetic, counting, and ordering – as well as different philosophical conceptions of those numbers: structuralist, cardinal, and ordinal. Some influential philosophers of mathematics have argued for a nonegalitarian attitude according to which one of those characterizations is ‘more basic’ or ‘more fundamental’ than the others. This paper addresses two related issues. First, we review some of (...) 

Naturalized metaphysics is based on the idea that philosophy should be guided by the sciences. The paradigmatic science that is relevant for metaphysics is physics because physics tells us what fundamental reality is ultimately like. There are other sciences, however, that de facto play a role in philosophical inquiries about what there is, one of them being the science of language, i.e. linguistics. In this paper I will be concerned with the question what role linguistics should and does play for (...) 

Mathematical fictionalism (or as I'll call it, fictionalism) is best thought of as a reaction to mathematical platonism. Platonism is the view that (a) there exist abstract mathematical objects (i.e., nonspatiotemporal mathematical objects), and (b) our mathematical sentences and theories provide true descriptions of such objects. So, for instance, on the platonist view, the sentence ‘3 is prime’ provides a straightforward description of a certain object—namely, the number 3—in much the same way that the sentence ‘Mars is red’ provides a (...) 

Platonism about mathematics (or mathematical platonism) isthe metaphysical view that there are abstract mathematical objectswhose existence is independent of us and our language, thought, andpractices. Just as electrons and planets exist independently of us, sodo numbers and sets. And just as statements about electrons and planetsare made true or false by the objects with which they are concerned andthese objects' perfectly objective properties, so are statements aboutnumbers and sets. Mathematical truths are therefore discovered, notinvented., Existence. There are mathematical objects. 

