Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 257–281 | Cite as

Generic one, arbitrary PRO, and the first person

  • Friederike Moltmann
Original Paper


The generic pronoun one (or its empty counterpart, arbitrary PRO) exhibits a range of properties that show a special connection to the first person, or rather the relevant intentional agent (speaker, addressee, or described agent). Generic one typically leads to generic sentences whose generalization is obtained from a first-person experience or action or else is meant to be immediately applicable to the relevant agent himself (in particular the addressee). I will argue that generic one involves generic quantification in which the predicate is applied to a given entity ‘as if’ to the relevant agent himself. This is best understood in terms of simulation, a central notion in some recent developments in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science (Simulation Theory). generic one involves ‘generic simulation’, roughly ‘putting oneself into the shoes of anyone meeting relevant conditions. Formally, this means that generic one introduces a complex variable, consisting of an ordinary variable and a ‘mode of presentation’ of the relevant intentional agent, namely the property of being identical to that agent. Generic one, like other pronouns acting as bound variables, may also introduce just an ordinary variable. In both cases, the ordinary variable needs to be bound by a sentential generic operator.


Noun Phrase Propositional Attitude Semantic Context Simulation Theory Intentional Agent 
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© Springer Science+Business Media 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IHPSTParisFrance

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