Clarence Sloat, Ora Matushansky, and Delia Graff Fara advocate a Syntactic Rationale on behalf of predicativism, the view that names are predicates in all of their occurrences. Each argues that a set of surprising syntactic data compels us to recognize names as a special variety of count noun. This data set, they say, reveals that names’ interaction with the determiner system differs from that of common count nouns only with respect to the definite article ‘the’. They conclude that this special distribution of names is best explained by the-predicativism, the view that posits the existence of the null-determiner ‘the’ preceding bare singular names. This essay argues that they have incorrectly discerned the syntactic facts: their critical data point concerning the ungrammaticality of sentences like “The Katherine wants coffee” is mistaken. Such sentences’ grammaticality undermines the Syntactic Rationale and presents serious auxiliary problems for predicativism.
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Robin Jeshion; ‘The’ Problem for the-Predicativism. The Philosophical Review 1 April 2017; 126 (2): 219–240. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-3772008
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