The Generality Constraint and Categorial Restrictions

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Abstract

We should not admit categorial restrictions on the significance of syntactically well formed strings. Syntactically well formed but semantically absurd strings, such as ‘Life's but a walking shadow’ and ‘Caesar is a prime number’, can express thoughts; and competent thinkers both are able to grasp these and ought to be able to. Gareth Evans’ generality constraint, though Evans himself restricted it, should be viewed as a fully general constraint on concept possession and propositional thought. For (a) even well formed but semantically cross-categorial strings often do possess substantive inferential roles; (b) hearers exploit these inferential roles in interpreting such strings metaphorically; (c) there is no good reason to deny truth-conditions to strings with inferential roles.

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