Multidimensional adjectives

Justin D’Ambrosio, Brian Hedden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Multidimensional adjectives are ubiquitous in natural language. An adjective F is multidimensional just in case whether F applies to an object or pair of objects depends on how those objects stand with respect to multiple underlying dimensions of F-ness. Developing a semantics for multidimensional adjectives requires us to address the problem of dimensional aggregation: how do the application conditions of an adjective F in its positive and comparative forms depend on its underlying dimensions? Here we develop a semantics for multidimensional adjectives that incorporates aggregation functions. We then explore an analogy between dimensional aggregation and preference aggregation, bringing results from social choice theory to bear on the number and kind of aggregation functions which are admissible in a context. These results suggest that, for any given adjective, there will often be multiple aggregation functions admissible, meaning that multidimensional comparatives are often vague.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalAustralasian Journal of Philosophy
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date28 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Gradable adjectives
  • Multidimensionality
  • Aggregation
  • Vagueness
  • Social choice theory

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