The Ockham Society (Friday - Week 5, MT18)

Ockham Society

James Kirkpatrick (University) The Acquisition of Generics

Recent empirical studies show that young children produce and comprehend generic sentences far quicker and more readily than explicit quantification. These facts pose a prima facie problem for an orthodox treatment of generics according to which they involve a generic operator called 'Gen' which is analysed in terms of quantification over a restricted domain of individuals, (parts of) worlds, or histories. Leslie (2007, 2008) and Gelman (2010) resolve this problem by arguing that generics give voice to an innate, default mode of generalising that is postulated to exist in the cognitive system. This paper develops an explanation of the acquisition data that is compatible with the orthodox approach.


Chair: Beatriz Santos 

Ockham Society Convenor: Charlotte Figueroa | Ockham Society Webpage