Trying in Some Way

  • David-Hillel Ruben


I describe and categorise the verb ‘to try’, making a number of important distinctions and introducing ideas that will be important in the book, for example, the imperfective paradox. I turn to a Davidsonian-like argument that would seek to show that there must be particular acts of trying, in order to account for the adverbial qualifications in trying-sentences. Most of the chapter then moves through various categories of adverbs, arguing that none of them requires acts of trying to account for the adverbs in these sentences. Along the way, I discuss the opacity of ‘to try’. There is an important distinction between adverbs that occur inside the context governed by ‘to try’ and those that occur outside that context, and I show how that distinction is important for assessing the strength of those Davidsonian-like arguments.

Since naked trying might be thought to pose a particularly difficult challenge for my claim, I then apply the same arguments to cases of naked trying, to show that sentences about naked trying that have an adverbial qualification do not require the adjectival modification of an act of trying.

I discuss some further considerations from Jonathan Bennett and Artemis Alexiadou that would support my view that there are no trying particulars. Finally, I look at, and dismiss, some examples that might force the conclusion that there are trying particulars in spite of the failure of the arguments from adverbial attribution: reference back, causation, attempts in law, and attitudes.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David-Hillel Ruben
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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