A Problem for Predicativism Not Solved by Predicativism

Semantics and Pragmatics (forthcoming)
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In 'The Reference Book' (2012), Hawthorne and Manley observe the following contrast between (1) and (2): (1) In every race John won. (2) In every race, the colt won. The name 'John' in (1) must intuitively refer to the same single individual for each race. However, the description 'the colt' in (2) has a co-varying reading, i.e. a reading where for each race it refers to a different colt. This observation is a prima facie problem for proponents of so-called The-Predicativism which is the view that the name in (1) is really a covert definite description, viz. 'the John'. If the The-Predicativism is correct, (1) and (2) are therefore syntactically equivalent, but this makes it mysterious why only (2) would have a co-varying reading. In a recent paper, Fara (2015) argues that there is a simple and elegant way for proponents of The-Predicativism to explain this contrast. This explanation relies on discerning some subtle syntactic differences between (1) and (2) which in turn are based on assumptions about nominal restrictions a la Stanley and Szabó (2000). In this short paper, I demonstrate that Fara's proposed explanation has a variety of serious shortcomings and hence that the contrast between (1) and (2) remains a significant problem for Predicativism.

Author's Profile

Anders Schoubye
Stockholm University


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