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ERIC Number: ED521550
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 173
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1242-9258-8
The Semantics of Plurals: A Defense of Singularism
Florio, Salvatore
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Ohio State University
In this dissertation, I defend "semantic singularism", which is the view that syntactically plural terms, such as "they" or "Russell and Whitehead", are semantically singular. A semantically singular term is a term that denotes a single entity. Semantic singularism is to be distinguished from "syntactic singularism", according to which syntactically plural terms are not required in the regimentation of natural language into a formal language; rather, syntactically singular terms suffice for the task. The traditional semantic conception of plurals embraces syntactic singularism. In recent years, however, a number of theorists have argued against the traditional conception and in favor of both "syntactic pluralism" and "semantic pluralism". According to syntactic pluralism, syntactically plural terms are required in the regimentation of natural language. According to semantic pluralism, a syntactically plural term is semantically plural in that it denotes many entities at once. In light of the arguments against the traditional conception, I reject syntactic singularism but I argue that semantic singularism is a viable alternative to semantic pluralism. According to "object singularism", which is the standard formulation of semantic singularism, plural terms denote objects. As I argue in Chapter 1, the object-singularist can sidestep many objections in the literature but she faces a serious challenge, since she cannot accommodate the possibility of absolutely unrestricted quantification. In response to this potential difficulty, I propose a novel construal of semantic singularism, "property singularism", according to which a plural term denotes a property rather than an object. In Chapter 2, I argue that property singularism fares at least as well as the version of semantic pluralism that takes plural predicates, such as "being two" or "cooperate", to denote plural properties. In Chapter 3 and 4, I argue against two more versions of semantic pluralism, one that takes plural predicates to denote properties as objects and one that takes plural predicates to denote superpluralities. I conclude that, whether or not the possibility of absolutely unrestricted quantification is admitted, semantic singularism remains a satisfactory approach to plurals. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A