Plurals and Mereology (joint work with David Nicolas)
In linguistics, the dominant approach to the semantics of plurals appeals to mereology. However, this approach has received heavy criticisms, especially in philosophical logic where many authors subscribe to an alternative framework based on plural logic. Some of these criticisms target a broader class of “singularist” semantics which interpret plural expressions in terms of singular ones. The mereological approach is the most popular, and perhaps the most plausible, of those analyses. This debate, which has relevance for the foundations of semantics, stands in need of clarification. In the first part of the talk, we offer a precise articulation of the mereological approach and of the semantic background in which the debate can be meaningfully reconstructed. In the second part, we deal with the criticisms and assess their logical, linguistic, and philosophical significance. Our conclusion is that the mereological approach remains a viable and well-motivated framework for the analysis of plurals.