Friederike Moltmann » Teaching » Philosophy of Language: The Ontology and Semantics of Parts and Wholes, fall 2024
Philosophy of Language: The Ontology and Semantics of Parts and Wholes, fall 2024

Date: January 24, 2024

Fall 2024 

BCL, Université Côte d'Azur

This course will be given as a hybrid course, at both a relatively introductory and an advanced level.

The course will give an an in-depth discussion of extensional and non-extensional mereological theories of parts and wholes and their application to semantic phenomena and present new developments in philosophy and semantics on the topic.

My own work on the topic started with my book Parts and Wholes in Semantics (OUP 1997) and a number of papers (and my 1986 MA thesis) preceding it. Those works introduced the Aristotelian notion of an integrated whole into semantic theory, as part of a theory of situated part structures. This was novel at a time when extensional mereological theories of plurals and mass nouns (Link and others) were considered the only option. Nowadays there is an increasing interest in conditions defining unified wholes, moving away from the simple (and highly problematic) construal of an individual as a concept-relative atom in extensional mereological theories.

A major issue of the course will be the mass-count distinction, which centers on the notion of being one. Like with other topics, research in formal semantics on the mass-count distinction has developed almost entirely separately from  philosophical traditions. But the notion of being one is a central notion in metaphysics as well. The course aims to build a bridge between philosophical and linguistic discussions of that notion.

The course will involve some guest presenters (including D. Liebesman (Calgary), G. Priest (CUNY), TBC)

The course will be associated with a workshop on the topic at the end of the semester.

Auditors welcome!