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Friederike Moltmann

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titre
Reference to numbers in natural language
auteur
Friederike Moltmann
article
Philosophical Studies, Springer Verlag, 2013, 162 (3), pp.499-539. ⟨10.1007/s11098-011-9779-1⟩
annee_publi
2013
resume
A common view is that natural language treats numbers as abstract objects, with expressions like the number of planets, eight, as well as the number eight acting as referential terms referring to numbers. In this paper I will argue that this view about reference to numbers in natural language is fundamentally mistaken. A more thorough look at natural language reveals a very different view of the ontological status of natural numbers. On this view, numbers are not primarily treated abstract objects, but rather 'aspects' of pluralities of ordinary objects, namely number tropes, a view that in fact appears to have been the Aristotelian view of numbers. Natural language moreover provides support for another view of the ontological status of numbers, on which natural numbers do not act as entities, but rather have the status of plural properties, the meaning of numerals when acting like adjectives. This view matches contemporary approaches in the philosophy of mathematics of what Dummett called the Adjectival Strategy, the view on which number terms in arithmetical sentences are not terms referring to numbers, but rather make contributions to generalizations about ordinary (and possible) objects. It is only with complex expressions somewhat at the periphery of language such as the number eight that reference to pure numbers is permitted.
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titre
Tropes, Intensional Relative Clauses, and the Notion of a Variable Object
auteur
Friederike Moltmann
article
18th Amsterdam Colloquium, Dec 2012, Amsterdam, Netherlands. pp.431-440, ⟨10.1007/978-3-642-31482-7_44⟩
annee_publi
2012
resume
NPs with intensional relative clauses such as the impact of the book John needs to write pose a significant challenge for trope theory (the theory of particularized properties), since they seem to refer to tropes that lack an actual bearer. I will propose a novel semantic analysis of such NPs on the basis of the notion of a variable object. This analysis avoids a range of difficulties that an alternative analysis based on the notion of an individual concept would face.
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titre
Tropes, Bare Demonstratives, and Apparent Statements of Identity
auteur
Friederike Moltmann
article
Noûs, Wiley, 2012, ⟨10.1111/j.1468-0068.2011.00844.x⟩
annee_publi
2012
resume
Philosophers who accept tropes generally agree that tropes do play a role in the semantics of natural language, namely as the objects of reference of nominalizations of adjectives, such as Socrates' wisdom or the beauty of the landscape. In fact, a philosophical discussion of the ontology of tropes can hardly do without the use of such nominalizations. In this paper, I will argue that tropes play a further important role in the semantics of natural language, namely in the semantics of bare demonstratives like this and that. Like terms such as Socrates' wisdom or the beauty of the landscape, this and that can act as ordinary referential terms referring to tropes.
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titre
Abstract Objects and the Semantics of Natural Language
auteur
Friederike Moltmann
article
Oxford University Press, pp.253, 2012
annee_publi
2012
resume
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'.
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titre
Two kinds of first-person-oriented content
auteur
Friederike Moltmann
article
Synthese, Springer Verlag (Germany), 2012, 184 (2), pp.157-177. ⟨10.1007/s11229-010-9730-6⟩
annee_publi
2012
resume
In this paper, I will argue that two kinds of first-person oriented content are distinguished in more ways than usually thought and I propose an account that will shed new light on the distinction. The first kind consists of contents of attitudes de se (in a broad sense); the second kind consists of contents that give rise to intuitions of relative truth. I will present new data concerning the two kinds of first-person-oriented content together with a novel account of propositional content in general, namely based on the notion of an attitudinal object. That notion solves two major problems for Lewis' account of contents of attitudes de se and clarifies the difference between contents of attitudes de se and contents that give rise to intuitions of relative truth. I will propose an analysis of contents of the second kind in terms of what I call first-person-based genericity, a form of genericity most explicitly expressed by sentences with generic one. I show how the overall account explains the particular semantic properties of sentences giving rise to intuitions of relative truth that distinguish them from sentences with expressions interpreted de se. I will start by introducing Lewis' account of attitudes de se and the problems and go along with that account. Introducing the notion of an attitudinal object, will extend the account by a account of the truth conditions of the content of attitudes de se. I then discuss the second kind of first-person-oriented content, which is associated with intuitions of relative truth, and give an account of such contents on the basis of an analysis of generic one. Again making use of attitudinal objects, I will make clear what exactly distinguishes those contents frol firstperson- oriented contents of the first sort.
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titre
On the Semantics of Existence Predicates
auteur
Friederike Moltmann
article
Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung, Sep 2010, Saarbruecken, Germany. pp.31-54
annee_publi
2010
resume
The most common philosophical view about the notion of existence is that it is a second-order property or existential quantification. A less common view is that existence is a (first-order) property of 'existent' as opposed to 'nonexistent' (past or merely intentional) objects. An even less common view is that existence divides into different 'modes of being' for different sorts of entities. In this paper I will take a closer look at the semantic behavior of existence predicates in natural language, such as exist, occur, and obtain, arguing that existence predicates in natural language support the two less common philosophical views. I will develop explicit analyses of existence predicates in their time-relative and space-relative uses which will explain why they apply to some kinds of entities, but not others.
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titre
Relative Truth and the First Person
auteur
Friederike Moltmann
article
Philosophical Studies, Springer Verlag, 2010, 150 (2), pp.187-220. ⟨10.1007/s11098-009-9383-9⟩
annee_publi
2010
resume
In recent work on context-dependency, it has been argued that certain types of sentences give rise to a notion of relative truth. In particular, sentences containing predicates of personal taste and moral or aesthetic evaluation as well as epistemic modals are held to express a proposition (relative to a context of use) which is true or false not only relative to a world of evaluation, but other parameters as well, such as standards of taste or knowledge or an agent. I will argue that the sentences that apparently give rise to relative truth should be understood by relating them in a certain way to the first person. More precisely, such sentences express what I will call 'first-person-based genericity', a form of generalization that is based on an essential first-person application of the predicate. The account differs from standard relative truth account in crucial respects: it is not the truth of the proposition expressed that is relative to the first person; the proposition expressed by a sentence with a predicate of taste rather has absolute truth conditions. Instead it is the propositional content itself that requires a first-personal cognitive access whenever it is entertained. This account, I will argue, avoids a range of problems that standard relative truth theories of the sentences in question face and explains a number of further peculiarities that such sentences display.
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titre
Generalizing Detached Self-Reference and the Semantics of Generic One
auteur
Friederike Moltmann
article
Mind & Language, 2010, 25 (4), pp.440-473. ⟨10.1111/j.1468-0017.2010.01397.x⟩
annee_publi
2010
resume
In this paper I will give an analysis of what I call 'generalizing detached self-reference' within a general account of reference to the first person. With generalizing detached self-reference an agent attributes properties to a range of individuals by putting himself into their shoes, or simulating them. I will show that generalizing detached self-reference plays an important role in the semantics of natural language, in particular in the English generic one and in what syntacticians call arbitrary PRO.
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titre
The Number of Planets, a Number-Referring Term?
auteur
Friederike Moltmann
article
Philosophy, Mathematics, and Linguistics: Aspects of Interaction, May 2009, St Petersburg, France. pp.8-18
annee_publi
2009
resume
The question whether numbers are objects is a central question in the philosophy of mathematics. Frege made use of a syntactic criterion for objethood: numbers are objects because there are singular terms that stand for them, and not just singular terms in some formal language, but in natural language in particular. In particular, Frege (1884) thought that both noun phrases like the number of planets and simple numerals like eight as in (1) are singular terms referring to numbers as abstract objects.
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titre
Degree structure as trope structure: a trope-based analysis of positive and comparative adjectives
auteur
Friederike Moltmann
article
Linguistics and Philosophy, Springer Verlag, 2009, 32 (1), pp.51-94. ⟨10.1007/s10988-009-9054-5⟩
annee_publi
2009
resume
This paper explores a novel analysis of adjectives in the comparative and the positive based on the notion of a trope, rather than the notion of a degree. Tropes are particularized properties, concrete manifestations of properties in individuals. The point of departure is that a sentence like ‘John is happier than Mary' is intuitively equivalent to ‘John's happiness exceeds Mary's happiness', a sentence that expresses a simple comparison between two tropes, John's happiness and Mary's happiness. The analysis received particular support from various parallels between adjectival constructions and corresponding adjective nominalizations which make reference to tropes.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00535502/file/PEER_stage2_10.1007%252Fs10988-009-9054-5.pdf BibTex
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