Evaluational Adjectives

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This paper demarcates a theoretically interesting class of evaluational adjectives.
This class includes predicates expressing various kinds of normative and
epistemic evaluation, such as predicates of personal taste, aesthetic adjectives,
moral adjectives, and epistemic adjectives, among others. Evaluational adjectives
are distinguished, empirically, in exhibiting phenomena such as discourseoriented use, felicitous embedding under the attitude verb ‘find’, and sorites-susceptibility in the comparative form. A unified degree-based semantics is developed: What distinguishes evaluational adjectives, semantically, is that they denote context-dependent measure functions (evaluational perspectives) — context-dependent mappings to degrees of taste, beauty, probability, etc., depending on the adjective. This perspective-sensitivity characterizing the class of evaluational adjectives cannot be assimilated to vagueness, sensitivity to an experiencer argument, or multidimensionality; and it cannot be demarcated in terms of pretheoretic notions of subjectivity, common in the literature. I propose that certain diagnostics for “subjective” expressions be analyzed instead in terms of a precisely specified kind of discourse-oriented use of context-sensitive language. I close by applying the account to ‘find x PRED’ ascriptions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research
Early online date5 Sept 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Sept 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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