On 'Average'

Mind 118 (471):583 - 646 (2009)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
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 Stephen Yablo have used them to provide evidence that apparent singular reference need not be taken as ontologically committing. We develop a fully general and independently justified compositional semantics in which such constructions are assigned truth conditions that are not ontologically problematic, and show that our analysis is superior to all extant rivals. Our analysis provides evidence that a good semantics yields a sensible ontology. It also reveals that natural language contains genuine singular terms that refer to numbers
Keywords
No keywords specified (fix it)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
KENOA
Revision history
Archival date: 2013-10-21
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Semantics in Generative Grammar.Heim, Irene & Kratzer, Angelika
Word and Object.Quine, Willard Van Orman

View all 48 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 15 citations / Add more citations

Added to PP index
2009-03-12

Total views
348 ( #8,955 of 41,544 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
18 ( #27,511 of 41,544 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.