Strategies for a Logic of Plurals



English has plural terms (e.g., ‘Oliver and Smiley’, ‘the co-authors of this paper’) as well as singular terms. But our standard formal languages, e.g., the predicate calculus, feature only singular terms. How can the plural idiom be formalized?‘Changing the subject’ is by far the most common plurals strategy among both philosophers and linguists: a plural term is replaced by a singular term standing for some complex object (a set or an aggregate) that ‘contains’ the individuals to which the plural term alludes. For example, one might simply replace ‘A, B imply C’ with ‘{A, B} implies [singular] C’. We uncover a surprising variety of ways to change the subject, of ever-increasing complexity and ingenuity. Our question is whether any can made to work.