What’s Positive and Negative about Generics: A Constrained Indexical Approach

Philosophical Studies:1-23 (forthcoming)
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Nguyen (2020) introduced the positive data and argued that only his pragmatic account and Sterken’s (2015a) indexical account can accommodate it. In this paper, we will present new data – what we call the negative data – and argue that there is no theory on the market that is compatible with both the positive data and the negative data. We will draw two generalizations from them and develop a novel version of the indexical account that captures both the positive data and the negative data. In particular, we argue that there is a semantic constraint that, in any context, the semantic value of GEN is upward monotone and non-symmetric. Whereas the indexical account can accommodate these data when appropriately modified, the pragmatic account cannot. This is because no pragmatic principles have been developed that can explain the negative data. While we focus on only the pragmatic account and the indexical account, the data and generalizations discussed here are of broad interest, as they must be accommodated by any empirically adequate account of generics.
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First archival date: 2021-09-17
Latest version: 3 (2021-09-21)
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