The Radical Account of Bare Plural Generics

Philosophical Studies 177 (5):1303-1331 (2020)
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Bare plural generic sentences pervade ordinary talk. And yet it is extremely controversial what semantics to assign to such sentences. In this paper, I achieve two tasks. First, I develop a novel classification of the various standard uses to which bare plurals may be put. This “variety data” is important—it gives rise to much of the difficulty in systematically theorizing about bare plurals. Second, I develop a novel account of bare plurals, the radical account. On this account, all bare plurals fail to express propositions. The content of a bare plural has to be pragmatically “completed” by a speaker in order for her to make an assertion. At least the content of a quantifier expression has to be supplied. But sometimes, the content of a sentential operator or modal verb is also supplied. The radical account straightforwardly explains the variety data: Speakers’ communicative intentions vary wildly across different contexts.

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Author's Profile

Anthony Nguyen
University of Southern California

Citations of this work

Genericity.Ariel Cohen - 2022 - In Mark Aronoff (ed.), Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-35.
Generic Generalizations.Sarah-Jane Leslie & Adam Lerner - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Normative generics: Against semantic polysemy.Samia Hesni - 2021 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 10 (3):218-225.
Generics: some (non) specifics.Anne Bosse - 2021 - Synthese (5-6):14383-14401.
Falsifying generic stereotypes.Olivier Lemeire - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (7):2293-2312.

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