The copredication argument

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The standard view of truth-conditional semantics is that it is world-involving in the sense that a theory that specifies truth conditions eo ipso is a theory that specifies the way the world must be if the target sentences are to be true. It would appear to follow that the semantic properties of expressions, such as nominals, specify the very worldly objects that make true or false the sentences that host the nominals. Chomsky and others have raised a fundamental complaint against this thought: perfectly quotidian nominals, such as London or book, may occur copredicatively as a single argument of categorically mismatched predicates, which prima facie preclude a coherent uniform construal of the nominal argument. The argument has hitherto been presented via examples that challenge the standard view. My aim here is to present the argument explicitly, defend it against some likely counterclaims, and resolve what might appear to be a decisive consideration against the conclusion of the argument, viz., if nominals as copredicatively occurring do not contribute uniform worldly entities, then how can the copredicative constructions be counted as true?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-702
Issue number7
Early online date27 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Copredication
  • semantic externalism
  • truth

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