The Mass-Count Distinction and Davidsonian Events: A Truthmaker-Based Approach

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The mass-count distinction is a morpho-syntactic distinction that is generally taken to have semantic content or reflect a semantic mass-count distinction. Three general approaches to the semantic mass-count distinction can be distinguished: 1. the object-based approach, 2. the extension-based approach, and 3. the grammar-based approach in the spirit of what Rothstein’s (2017) calls 'grammaticized individuation'. The grammar-based approach predicts that category lacking a syntactic mass-count distinction should semantically side with mass rather than count. This paper argues that this prediction is borne out in the behavior of verbs with respect to their Davidsonian argument position as well as other syntactic categories in English that lack a mass-count distinction. The paper outlines a truthmaker-based account as an alternative to Rothstein’s version of the grammar-based account of the mass-count distinction, making use of a primitive notion of unity relativized to a situation.
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First archival date: 2020-04-29
Latest version: 4 (2021-04-25)
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