General Talk

May 18, 16-17:30, Erasmusbuilding 20.10

Ede Zimmermann, University of Frankfurt

Opaque Objects: Quantification vs. Predication

Abstract: According to logical analysis, a fundamental difference between (1) and (2) lies in the role played by the respective object noun phrases:

(1) Jones is wearing a red sweater.
(2) Jones is wearing the sweater he wore yesterday.

In both sentences subject and the verb (together) express a property P of individuals; but whereas the definite object in (2) denotes an individual instantiating P, the indefinite object in (1) expresses a property Q attributed to P. In more general terms, the construal exemplified in (1), where is called "quantification"; whereas the construal exemplified in (3) is known as "predication". In this talk I will address the question of which of these construals (if any) is relevant for the interpretation of indefinite objects of opaque (or intensional) verbs, as in the unspecific reading of (3):

(3) Jones is looking for a red sweater.

The unspecificity in (3) has been explained along two different, mutually exclusive lines. According to the first approach (advocated by Zalta, May, and others), the construal is as quantificational as in (1), the difference being that subject + verb express a property of intentional individuals, quantifying over which the object must be (re-) interpreted. According to the other approach (advocated by Montague, myself and others), the construal is as predicational as in (2), the difference being that subject + verb must be interpreted as denoting an intensional quantifier. The aim of my talk is to show that an adequate and homogeneous analysis of (3) and the following pair of examples requires a quantificational rather than a predicational approach to opacity:

(4) Jones is looking for sweater.
(5) Jones is looking for something Smith is looking for (too).

Two phenomena relating to (3)-(5) must be explained. On the one hand (3) - still on its unspecific reading - implies (4). On the other hand, (5) has a reading according to which neither Jones nor Smith are lookng for a specific object. It will be shown that a simulataneous explanation of both phenomena is at odds with a predicational approach to opacity but can be reconciled with the quantificational analysis.