chapter  20
13 Pages

The Mark of the Plural

Generic Generalizations and Race
WithDaniel Wodak, Sarah-Jane Leslie

Albert Memmi once wrote that "the mark of the plural" signals the depersonalization of the colonized: The colonized is never characterized in an individual manner; he is entitled only to drown in an anonymous collectivity. This chapter argues that it is useful to distinguish three types of bare plural generics, which correspond to different ways in which the property that is attributed is related to the relevant kind. First, there are majority generics, where the property just happens to be possessed by most members of the relevant kind. Second, there are characteristic generics, where the property is widely possessed by members of the kind in virtue of their common intrinsic natures. Third, there are striking property generics. Descriptive and normative generics can be hard to disentangle, given that they have the same surface form. One way to distinguish the two is to consider the use of graded comparisons.