Is Fun a Matter of Grammar?

Journal of the Philosophy of Games 4 (1) (2022)
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This paper outlines an analysis of the word ‘fun’, as it is used in everyday English sentences to describe various activities and asks why some things are labeled as fun while others seem unable to be properly described as such. One common unspoken idea, for example, is that a fun activity is deemed fun due to having a particular phenomenology, in a way that might be comparable to being in a ‘flow state’. Due to the trouble such psychological accounts of fun have in explaining both the precise conditions of fun and also why some activities are thought to be enjoyable but not fun, a deflationary theory is instead introduced. This proposed alternative account suggests that the use of the word ‘fun’, when describing activities in English sentences, signals that the sentence is a generic sentence, an idea based on a semantic distinction made by Greg Carlson (1989). Further, it is argued that the words ‘pleasurable’ and ‘enjoyable’ are reserved for non-generic sentences, leaving the use of the word ‘fun’ to signal something akin to a grammar relation, rather than referring to a feeling or psychological state.

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