Common Nouns and Rigidity

Dissertation, Bogazici University (2014)
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Abstract

The principal question addressed is whether there is a division among common nouns which is similar to a familiar division among noun phrases that designate particular-level individuals: the one which is captured in the relevant literature as the difference between de jure rigid and not de jure rigid singular terms. In relation with the previous philosophical literature relevant to noun rigidity it is argued that the extant positions on the matter are not defended on the basis of well-founded syntactic categories and proper semantic arguments. Proper ways to argue for rigidity ascriptions to nouns are described. Then, such arguments are sought for the case of rigid/non-rigid division among count common nouns. It is shown that there are plausible, albeit inconclusive, reasons to hold that among common nouns (N-bar expressions) only simple common nouns are kind designators, and that if that is the case these simple common nouns will have to be reckoned as de jure rigid designators.

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