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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

St. Andrews

Just returned to Copenhagen after a few intense days in St. Andrews at the adjectives conference. Sharon Coull, Herman Cappelen and Jason Stanley did a great job organizing the conference. In fact, Sharon's contribution was so excellent that she ended up with several job offers from conference participants. "Jason-Billy-Whizz" chaired all sessions, except his own, which was chaired by Ludlow. That added to the fun. Some highlights: Chris Kennedy defended a version of his famous degree account of gradable adjectives, Delia Fara showed how allowing relativity to comparison classes and respects can be used to solve Kit Fine's puzzle of coincidence, Gabriel Segal and Daniel Rothschild argued that gradables are indexicals, Peter Ludlow defended a variation on this view, according to which gradables are associated with hidden domain variables, John Hawthorne offered objections to Stanley's nominal restriction strategy, Paul Pietroski offered a new theory of gradables as monadic predicates, Jonathan Schaffer offered reasons against a relativistic account of predicates of personal taste and defended a contextual variant, and Stanley defended an anti-Chomskian line with respect to the adjective "average" (as it occurs in 'the average American has 2.3 children'). Stanley's theory predicts that the following examples (due to Gabriel Segal) are infelicitous:

The average American has 2.3 children, and he sends all of them to college
The average American has 2 children, he used to have 3, and now he is worried about his fertility
The average American has 2 children, he used to have 3 and wonders where the last one went (perhaps he went to college).

The award-winning Central Pub close to the Arche Research Center (picture) formed a natural meeting place for drinks after the talks. More reports from DK epistemology workshops will follow.

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