Nominalization, Specification, and Investigation

Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley (2017)
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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 search for and specify during investigation or inquiry. I support this epistemological conception of objects by studying specificational sentences, a class of sentences which includes Frege's original example. I defend an analysis of such sentences as question-answer pairs, and show how to formally represent this analysis using game-theoretical semantics.

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Richard Lawrence
University of Vienna


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