Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 595-635

First online:

Durative Achievements and Individual-Level Predicates on Events

  • Kate KearnsAffiliated withDepartment of Private Bag, University of Canterbury

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Ryle (1949, Chapter V) discusses a range of predicates which in different ways exemplify a property I shall call quasi-duality – they appear to report two actions or events in one predicate. Quasi-duality is the key property of predicates Ryle classed as achievements. Ryle's criteria for classification were not temporal or aspectual, and Vendler's subsequent adoption of the term achievement for the aktionsart of momentary events changes the term – Rylean achievements and Vendlerian achievements are in principle different classes. Nevertheless, I shall argue in this paper that certain kinds of quasi-duality do have aspectual significance.

This paper examines a number of quasi-dual predicates which are not generally discussed in the aktionsart literature, includingbreak a promise, miscount, and cure the patient. Two types of quasi-dual predicates are identified and dubbed criterion predicates and causative upshot predicates. It is shown that both types of quasi-dual predicate lack process progressives, despite being durative, and it is argued that the lack of process progressives identifies these predicates as (aspectual) achievements. They are termed durative achievements to distinguish them from canonical, momentary achievements.

It is argued that these predicates lack process progressives, and hence are achievements, because they express individual-level predicates on the event argument. A process progressive is stage-level for the event, and hence is incompatible with a predicate which is lexically individual-level for the event.