•  62
    Common nouns as modally non-rigid restricted variables
    Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (2): 363-424. 2020.
    I argue that common nouns should be analyzed as variables, rather than as predicates which take variables as arguments. This necessitates several unusual features to the analysis, such as allowing variables to be modally non-rigid, and assigning their values compositionally. However, treating common nouns as variables offers a variety of theoretical and empirical advantages over a more traditional analysis: It predicts the conservativity of nominal quantification, simplifies the analysis of arti…Read more
  •  21
    Common Nouns as Variables: Evidence from Conservativity and the Temperature Paradox
    In Rob Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern & Hannah Rohde (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21, Semantics Archives. pp. 731-746. 2018.
    Common nouns and noun phrases have usually been analyzed semantically as predicates. In quantified sentences, these predicates take variables as arguments. This paper develops and defends an analysis in which common nouns and noun phrases themselves are treated as variables, rather than as predicates taking variables as arguments. Several apparent challenges for this view will be addressed, including the modal non-rigidity of common nouns. Two major advantages to treating common nouns as variabl…Read more
  •  56
    Plurality, Conjunction and Events
    Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1994.
    Plurality, Conjunction and Events presents a novel theory of plural and conjoined phrases, in an event-based semantic framework. It begins by reviewing options for treating the alternation between `collective' and `distributive' readings of sentences containing plural or conjoined noun phrases, including analyses from both the modern and the premodern literature. It is argued that plural and conjoined noun phrases are unambiguously group-denoting, and that the collective/distributive distinction…Read more
  •  140
    Quantification and perspective in relativist semantics
    Philosophical Perspectives 22 (1): 305-337. 2008.
    Attempts to clarify some issues about the use of hidden arguments to predicates of personal taste, and motivate an analysis which does not make use of such arguments.
  •  83
    Group action and spatio-temporal proximity
    Linguistics and Philosophy 13 (2). 1990.
    Presents a unified semantics for various readings of 'together', using event mereology.
  •  43
    Adnominal conditionals
    In T. Galloway & J. Spence (eds.), Papers from Semantics and Linguistic Theory VI, Clc Publications. 1996.
    Argues that certain conditional clauses are irreducibly adnominal, so that 'if' cannot be treated purely as a sentential connective. A unified analysis of adnominal if-clauses and ordinary if-clauses is possible, however, if we assume a semantic theory in which sentences denote sets of events rather than truth values.
  •  84
    Non-World Indices and Assessment-Sensitivity
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (2-3): 122-148. 2013.
    I argue that sentence contents should be assigned truth-values relative to parameters other than a possible world only if those parameters are fixed by the context of assessment rather than the context of use. Standard counterexamples, including tense, de se attitudes, and knowledge ascriptions, all admit of alternative analyses which do not make use of such parameters. Moreover, allowing such indices greatly complicates the task of defining disagreement, and forces an odd separation between wha…Read more
  •  532
    Context dependence, disagreement, and predicates of personal taste
    Linguistics and Philosophy 28 (6): 643--686. 2005.
    This paper argues that truth values of sentences containing predicates of “personal taste” such as fun or tasty must be relativized to individuals. This relativization is of truth value only, and does not involve a relativization of semantic content: If you say roller coasters are fun, and I say they are not, I am negating the same content which you assert, and directly contradicting you. Nonetheless, both our utterances can be true (relative to their separate contexts). A formal semantic theory…Read more
  •  266
    Recent arguments for relativist semantic theories have centered on the phenomenon of “faultless disagreement.” This paper offers independent motivation for such theories, based on the interpretation of predicates of personal taste in certain attitude contexts and presuppositional constructions. It is argued that the correct interpretation falls out naturally from a relativist theory, but requires special stipulation in a theory which appeals instead to the use of hidden indexicals; and that a hi…Read more
  •  85
    Generalized conjunction and temporal modification
    Linguistics and Philosophy 15 (4). 1992.
    Argues for an assimilation of sentential and predicate conjunction to collective conjunction, based on modification of predicates by adverbs such as 'alternately'.
  •  61
    This dissertation provides a model-theoretic semantics for English sentences atttributing a property or action to a group of objects, either collectively or distributively. It is shown that certain adverbial expressions select for collective predicates; therefore collective and distibutive predicates must be distinguishable. This finding is problematic for recent accounts of distributive predicates which analyze such predicates as taking group-level arguments, and hence as not distinguishable fr…Read more
  •  73
    On the Readings of plural noun phrases
    Linguistic Inquiry 20 (1): 130-134. 1989.
    Argues against a Gillon-style covers-based analysis of plural noun phrases.
  •  189
    Context, relevant parts and (lack of) disagreement over taste (review)
    Philosophical Studies 156 (3): 433-439. 2011.
    Responds to an argument against relativist semantics advanced in Cappelen and Hawthorne’s Relativism and Monadic Truth.
  •  55
    This book explores linguistic and philosophical issues presented by sentences expressing personal taste, such as Roller coasters are fun, or Licorice is tasty. Standard semantic theories explain the meanings of sentences by specifying the conditions under which they are true; here, Peter Lasersohn asks how we can account for sentences that are concerned with matters of opinion rather than matters of fact. He argues that a truth-theoretic semantic theory is appropriate even for sentences like the…Read more
  •  85
    Generalized distributivity operators
    Linguistics and Philosophy 21 (1): 83-93. 1998.
    Presents a series of generalizations of distributivity operators across a type hierarchy, in order to account for collective-distributive ambiguities for non-subject arguments.
  •  47
    Bare plurals and donkey anaphora
    Natural Language Semantics 5 (1): 79-86. 1997.
    Generically interpreted bare plural noun phrases license donkey anaphora. This fact has unexpected consequences both for the analysis of generics and for the analysis of donkey anaphors. Specifically, if we assume a kindsbased analysis of bare plurals as in Carlson (1980), we will be forced to give up the idea that donkey anaphors are variables – presumably in favor of an E-type analysis. Conversely, if we assume that donkey anaphors are variables, we will be forced to give up Carlson’s treatmen…Read more
  •  132
    Pragmatic halos
    Language 75 (3): 522-551. 1999.
    It is a truism that people speak ‘loosely’——that is, that they often say things that we can recognize not to be true, but which come close enough to the truth for practical purposes. Certain expressions. such as those including ‘exactly’, ‘all’ and ‘perfectly’, appear to serve as signals of the intended degree of approximation to the truth. This article presents a novel formalism for representing the notion of approximation to the truth, and analyzes the meanings of these expressions in terms of…Read more
  •  105
    Expressives, perspective and presupposition
    Theoretical Linguistics 33 (2): 223-230. 2007.
    I compare Potts’ use of a ‘‘judge’’ parameter in semantic interpretation with the use of a similar parameter in Lasersohn (2005). The latter technique portrays the content of expressives as constant across speakers, while Pott’s technique does not. The idea that the content of expressives is a kind of presupposition is also briefly defended, and a technical problem in the ‘‘dynamics’’ of Pott’s formalism is pointed out.
  •  81
    Same, Models and Representation
    In Brendan Jackson & Tanya Matthews (eds.), Proceedings from SALT X, Clc Publications. pp. 83-97. 2000.
    What is the relation between models, as used in model-theoretic semantics, and the “world” which models represent? More specifically, let us consider the question of whether a single individual, event, time or other element in a model might be used to represent more than one individual, event, time or other object in the real world.
  •  3037
    Mass Nouns and Plurals
    In Claudia Maienborn, Klaus von Heusinger & Paul Portner (eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning, De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 2. 2011.
    Survey of issues pertaining to the semantics of mass and plural nouns.
  •  214
    Contextualism and compositionality
    Linguistics and Philosophy 35 (2): 171-189. 2012.
    I argue that compositionality (in the sense of homomorphic interpretation) is compatible with radical and pervasive contextual effects on interpretation. Apparent problems with this claim lose their force if we are careful in distinguishing the question of how a grammar assigns interpretations from the question of how people figure out which interpretations the grammar assigns. I demonstrate, using a simple example, that this latter task must sometimes be done not by computing a derivation defin…Read more