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Quantification and inference

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-X034-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 12, 2024, from

Article Summary

Quantificational reasoning in natural languages contains occurrences of expressions which, though name-like from a syntactic perspective, intuitively seem to be importantly different from ordinary names. For example, in attempting to argue that every F is G, we might consider an ‘arbitrary’ F, give ‘it’ the ‘name’ ‘n’, and go on to argue that n is G. That such an occurrence of ‘n’ is somehow different from occurrences of ordinary names can be seen by noting, for example, that arguing from the claim that Bertrand Russell is F to the claim that Bertrand Russell is G in general does not suffice for drawing the conclusion that every F is G. Similarly, given that some F is G, in general we do not think it legitimate to assert that Bertrand Russell is F and G, and continue reasoning from that claim. It seems that such occurrences of ‘n’ differ semantically from similar occurrences of ordinary names. Thus the question arises as to the semantics of occurrences of such expressions. An adequate semantic account must justify appropriate inferences to and from sentences containing these terms.

Citing this article:
King, Jeffrey C.. Quantification and inference, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-X034-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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