On the Asymmetry Between Names and Count Nouns: Syntactic Arguments Against Predicativism

Linguistics and Philosophy 43 (3):277-301 (2020)
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The standard versions of predicativism are committed to the following two theses: proper names are count nouns in all their occurrences, and names do not refer to objects but express name-bearing properties. The main motivation for predicativism is to provide a uniform explanation of referential names and predicative names. According to predicativism, predicative names are fundamental and referential names are explained by appealing to a null determiner functioning like “the” or “that.” This paper has two goals. The first is to reject the predicativists’ explanation of the two types of names. I present three syntactic counterexamples to the predicativists’ account of referential names: incorporation, modification, and measure phrase uses. The second goal is to present a novel strategy to explain the two types of names. I propose that referential names are fundamental but that there are null morphemes available for transforming a name into a count noun (and possibly into other syntactic categories).

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Junhyo Lee
Seoul National University


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