The ways of normality

Abstract

I contrast two approaches to the interpretation of generics such as `ravens are black:' majority-based views, on which they are about what is the case most of the time, and inquiry-based views, on which they are about a feature we focus on in inquiry---an inductive target. I argue that while majority-based views are preferable based on the most basic data about generics, only inquiry-based views can account for a systematic class of sentences: generics with logically complex predicates, such as `cats are black, white, and ginger.' Thus, inquiry-based views should carry the day. I then go on to sketch a theory of inductive targets.

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2009-01-28

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Bernhard Nickel
Harvard University

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