Abstract Objects and the Semantics of Natural Language
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Abstract Objects and the Semantics of Natural Language

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Description

Abstract objects have been a central topic in philosophy since antiquity. Philosophers have defended various views about abstract objects by appealing to metaphysical considerations, considerations regarding mathematics or science, and, not infrequently, intuitions about natural language. This book pursues the question of how and whether natural language allows for reference to abstract objects in a fully systematic way. By making full use of contemporary linguistic semantics, it presents a much greater range of linguistic generalizations than has previously been taken into consideration in philosophical discussions, and it argues for an ontological picture is very different from that generally taken for granted by philosophers and semanticists alike. Reference to abstract objects such as properties, numbers, propositions, and degrees is considerably more marginal than generally held. Instead, natural language is rather generous in allowing reference to particularized properties (tropes), the use of nonreferential expressions in apparent referential position, and the use of 'nominalizing expressions', such as quantifiers like 'something'. Reference to abstract objects is achieved generally only by the use of 'reifying terms', such as 'the number eight'.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 158 x 236 x 22mm | 539.99g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199608741
  • 9780199608744
  • 1,596,764

Review quote

In Moltmanns work, linguistic, metaphysical and more general philosophical insight and theory are expertly woven together in an exceptionally original and rewarding way. This book is essential reading for philosophers, linguists and cognitive scientists. Mark Sainsbury, University of Texas at Austin This book is important for its hypotheses and conclusions, but even more so for its methodology: Moltmanns thorough and careful examination of linguistic (and crosslinguistic) data has raised so-called descriptive metaphysics, the analysis of the categories of being implicitly recognized by ordinary language and commonsense thought, to a new level. John P Burgess, Princeton University The book is highly recommended to philosophers and linguists alike. Those interested in semantics, ontology, or descriptive metaphysics would benefit greatly from studying it. Byeong-uk Yi, Mindshow more

About Friederike Moltmann

Friederike Moltmann is senior researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. She had previously taught both linguistics and philosophy at various universities in the US and the UK. She has published numerous articles in both linguistic and philosophical journals and is author of Parts and Wholes in Semantic (OUP, 1997).show more

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. Reference to Universals ; 2. Reference to Tropes and the Ontology of Tropes ; 3. The Semantics of Special Quantifiers in Predicate Position ; 4. Propositions and Attitudinal Objects ; 5. Intensional Transitive Verbs and their Objects ; 6. Reifying Terms ; Conclusion ; References ; Bibliography ; Indexshow more