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Generic predicates and interest-relativity

  • Sally Mcconnell-Ginet (a1)

Abstract

“Simple generics” with bare plural subjects (e.g., dogs bark) predicate of a kind a property that the kind “inherits” from its individual members. But what does that inheritance amount to if it is not, like most dogs bark, based on how many individuals have the property. My conclusion: there is no determinate account of which (fundamentally individual-level) properties can be truly predicated of a kind: generics are not quantificational, and language users’ interests guide judgments on their truth-conditions. At the same time, even “canonical” predications of ordinary predicates of ordinary individuals are not so straightforward as they might appear. Generic claims about social groups show the indeterminacy of truth conditions for simple generics and the relation to stereotypes and sometimes conflicting interests.

Résumé

Les génériques simples, tels que les noms nus sujets au pluriel (e.g., dogs bark), mettent en relation de prédication une espèce et une propriété que l’espèce «hérite» de ses membres individuels. Mais à quoi équivaut cet «héritage» s’il n’est pas (comme dans most dogs bark) fondé sur le nombre d’individus qui possèdent cette propriété? Ma conclusion : il n’y a pas d’analyse définitive des diverses propriétés (essentiellement de niveau individuel (I-level)) qui peuvent entrer en relation de prédication avec une espèce : les phrases génériques ne sont pas quantificationnelies et les intérêts des locuteurs guident les jugements des conditions de vérité. En outre, même la prédication «canonique» des prédicats ordinaires et des individus ordinaires n’est pas si simple. Les affirmations génériques à propos des groupes sociaux montrent la nature indéterminée des conditions de vérité pour les génériques simples, ainsi que le rapport avec les stéréotypes et parfois avec des intérêts conflictuels.

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References

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Generic predicates and interest-relativity

  • Sally Mcconnell-Ginet (a1)

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