The Generality Constraint and Categorial Restrictions



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.