Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 251–283 | Cite as

Split intensionality: a new scope theory of de re and de dicto

  • Ezra KeshetEmail author
Research Article


The traditional scope theory of intensionality (STI) (see Russell 1905; Montague 1973; Ladusaw 1977; Ogihara 1992, 1996; Stowell 1993) is simple, elegant, and, for the most part, empirically adequate. However, a few quite troubling counterexamples to this theory have lead researchers to propose alternatives, such as positing null situation pronouns (Percus 2000) or actuality operators (Kamp 1971; Cresswell 1990) in the syntax of natural language. These innovative theories do correct the undergeneration of the original scope theory, but at a cost: the situation pronoun and operator theories overgenerate, as argued extensively by Percus (2000) and Keshet (2008). This paper presents new data that supports the STI over other analyses, such as structures where DPs lose their de re readings in positions where syntactic movement is blocked. These data point the way to a new theory of intensionality. This new theory, called split intensionality, is a modification of the STI which aims to solve the problems raised for the original scope theory without overgenerating. The proposal calls for an additional intensional abstraction operator that creates an expression denoting an intension from an expression denoting an extension. When a DP moves to a position above this operator, it is interpreted de re; otherwise it is de dicto. The crucial part of the new proposal is that a DP may move above this operator and yet remain, for instance, below an intentional verb or inside an if-clause. Therefore, a DP within an island for syntactic movement may be de re and yet not move out of the island when the intensional abstraction operator is also within the island.


Intensionality De re De dicto Quantifiers Scope 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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