Events and Their Names

Events and Their Names

Events and Their Names

Events and Their Names


In this study of events and their place in our language and thought, Bennett propounds and defends views about what kind of item an event is, about how the language of events works, and about how these two themes are interrelated. He argues that most of the supposedly metaphysical literature on events is really about the semantics of their names, and that the true metaphysic of events - known by Leibniz and rediscovered by Jaegwon Kim - has not been universally accepted because it has been obscured by a false semantic theory.


This book arises from inquiries that I have pursued intermittently for about a decade, starting with a graduate class at the University of British Columbia and continuing in classes at Syracuse University, Princeton University and the University of Pittsburgh, and in an N.E.H. Summer Seminar for College Teachers in 1984. It was my especial good fortune that these groups included Nuel Belnap, Sara Bennett, William Blattner, Douglas Butler, Jan Cover, John Hawthorne, Frances Howard, Paul Hurley, Michael Kremer, Mark Lance, David Lewis, Steven Luper-Foy, Alison McIntyre, Brian McLaughlin, Leroy Meyer, Alastair Norcross, Shekhar Pradhan, John Quilter and Alexander Rosenberg. To them and to other members of the groups as well I am grateful for stimulus, criticism, insights, and other kinds of help.

As long paper from which some of the book grew was commented on by Robert Stalnaker, and parts or all of a late draft of the work were read and commented on by W.V. Quine, Jaegwon Kim, Judith Thomson, Lawrence Lombard, and Philip Peterson. All have enabled me to make significant improvements, which is not to say that any would be entirely satisfied with the result.

I am grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities and to Syracuse University, which provided me with a year's leave in 1984-1985, giving me the leisure I needed to discover how inadequate was all my work on events up to then.

I am continually aware of my debt to the pioneers of the events literature. I here express my respectful gratitude to those who are still with us: Donald Davidson, Alvin Goldman, Jaegwon Kim, W.V. Quine, and Zeno Vendler, and I salute the memory of the one who is not: G.W. Leibniz.

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