Nicolas Guarino

Title: Events as qualitative changes.

Abstract: In this talk I will first introduce a novel ontological theory of events (joint work with Riccardo Baratella and Giancarlo Guizzardi), which sees them, in the simplest case, as changes in a respect. Inspired by the Aristotelian tradition, a central tenet of this theory is the fundamental difference, in a change, between the object that changes (the participant in the change) and the actual subject of change. The latter is what DOLCE, UFO, and BFO call an individual quality. While in the Kimian tradition events are individuated by a triple , where o is an object, P is a property, and t is an interval of time, in this theory simple qualitative changes are individuated by a triple , where q is an individual quality inhering in o or in one of its parts. Detaching the definition of events from the property they exemplify results in a fine-grained theory that keeps metaphysics and semantics clearly separate, and lies between the multiplicative and the unitarian approaches. I will then discuss the way language refers to events, observing that, in most cases, event descriptions refer to complex, cognitively relevant clusters of co-occurring qualitative changes. Contra Bennett, who famously argued that the semantics of event names ultimately depends on “local context and unprincipled intuitions”, I will finally show how the lexicon provides systematic principles for individuating such clusters, classifying them into kinds, and constraining the semantics of modifiers.

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