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Oral Examination for the Degree of PhD in Philosophy

This research proposes a unified approach to the semantics of the so-called bare nominals, which include proper names (e.g., 'Mary'), mass and plural terms (e.g., 'water', 'cats'), and articleless noun phrases in Japanese. I argue that bare nominals themselves are monadic predicates applicable to more than one particular, but they can constitute complex referential phrases when located within an appropriate linguistic environment. Bare nominals used as the subjects or objects of sentences are some or other variant of definite descriptions, which are analyzed as non-quantificational, referential expressions. The overarching thesis is that the semantic properties of bare nominal expressions such as rigidity are not inherent in the words themselves, but derived from the basic features of complex nominal phrases.