Reply To: All or some


Thank you for the kind compliment, Kristopher.

In English (and, I presume, in other natural languages also), expressions such as “Women can’t drive” or “Men can’t navigate” have no explicit quantifiers on them. If such propositions have categorical import, they must be either universal, particular or singular. Now, it seems reasonably clear that they are not singular so that leaves us with a choice between universal or particular. It’s possible that someone might say this and intend by it a universal proposition. It’s also possible they might not. Where it’s not possible to receive clarification on intent, then we have a hermeneutical principle of charity which says that we should take a proposition in its most defensible form; and particulars are always easier to defend than universals. If the context indicates that a universal is the only sensible way to take a proposition, then take it as universal; otherwise the default in cases of ambiguity is particular. {I’m assuming you’ve read the exchanges above?}

You ask: “If the latter [taking the proposition particularly] is the answer why is it different in mathematical logic?”

I don’t know that it is different in mathematical logic. If I were using this example in the context of the predicate calculus, I would counsel translation in exactly the same way.

Remember, as I’ve said elsewhere on the forum, translation is an art not a science and our guiding principle, as in all translation, is to be as faithful as we can to what is being said and as accommodating as we can be to our interlocutors.

Let me know if this helps or if you’re still unpersuaded.