@inproceedings{0eadfe09808942e385fd5ec6acd01e48,

title = "Generics as Modals",

abstract = "A common view of generics is that they express universal quantification over normal individuals. I argue against this approach, and provide evidence that the quantification is neither universal nor over normal individuals. Regarding universality, generics fail standard tests for universal quantification. As an alternative, I propose that generics express measures of high probability. I formalize this notion using a modal extension of first order probability logic, and demonstrate how this system can account for embedded generics and inference with generics. As for normality, I contrast it with another notion, that of uniformity: generics are evaluated with respect to worlds whose future resembles their past. Using standard substitution intensionality tests, I demonstrate that generics are evaluated with respect to uniform, rather than normal worlds. The end result is that a generic such as Birds fly does not mean {"}All normal birds fly{"}; rather, it means that the probability for a randomly chosen bird to fly is high, and this tendency is expected to continue.",

keywords = "Embedded generics, Generics, Inference, Metaphysical modal base, Modality, Normality, Probability, Uniform ordering source",

author = "Ariel Cohen",

year = "2012",

month = jan,

day = "1",

doi = "10.4000/rlv.2068",

language = "English",

isbn = "9782842923501",

series = "Recherches Linguistiques de Vincennes",

publisher = "Presses Universitaires de Vincennes",

pages = "63--82",

booktitle = "New Perspectives on Genericity at the Interfaces",

}