Normal Objects, Normal Worlds and the Meaning of Generic Sentences

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1999
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Journal of Semantics. 1999, 16(3), pp. 237-278. ISSN 0167-5133. eISSN 1477-4593. Available under: doi: 10.1093/jos/16.3.237
Zusammenfassung

It has sometimes been proposed that generic sentences make statements about prototypic members of a category. In this paper I will elaborate this view and develop an account where generic sentences express quantification about the normal exemplars in a category - here and in counterfactual worlds sufficiently similar to our own. Comparing the account to the currently most widespread analysis which views generic sentences as universal quantifications in carefully chosen best-possible worlds, we find that an analysis that is based on the choice of normal objects does better justice to the data in question than an analysis that relies on a choice of normal worlds alone. A further conceptual advantage of an explicit separation of (a) a choice of best exemplars and (b) a modal component of generic quantification consists in the fact that it highlights that different generic sentences can rely on different kinds of choice of best exemplar. Comparing their logical behaviour, I will demonstrate that we should at least distinguish between normal-generic sentences and ideal-generic sentences. Finally, the paper proves that the account I propose is a modal variant of some recent purely extensional default logics, developed in AL.

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400 Sprachwissenschaft, Linguistik
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ISO 690ECKARDT, Regine, 1999. Normal Objects, Normal Worlds and the Meaning of Generic Sentences. In: Journal of Semantics. 1999, 16(3), pp. 237-278. ISSN 0167-5133. eISSN 1477-4593. Available under: doi: 10.1093/jos/16.3.237
BibTex
@article{Eckardt1999Norma-37778,
  year={1999},
  doi={10.1093/jos/16.3.237},
  title={Normal Objects, Normal Worlds and the Meaning of Generic Sentences},
  number={3},
  volume={16},
  issn={0167-5133},
  journal={Journal of Semantics},
  pages={237--278},
  author={Eckardt, Regine}
}
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