The nature and structure of content • by Jeffrey C. King

Analysis 69 (2):365-367 (2009)
The Nature and Structure of Content is a lucid, stimulating and occasionally frustrating book about the metaphysics of propositions. King is a realist about propositions, and he assumes throughout that a viable theory must individuate them more finely than sets of possible worlds. His aim in the first three chapters is to motivate an account in which propositions have constituent structure, akin to and dependent on the structure of the sentences that express them. The following chapters defend the use of propositions in semantics against a variety of objections, and in the seventh and final chapter King presents a new solution to the old paradox of analysis. With little exception, the arguments in these later chapters are rigorous and compelling, but being largely independent of the account developed in the preceding chapters, the book feels somewhat disjointed. Here I pass over these provocative vignettes to deal with the main action, the account of propositions.According to tradition, propositions are things expressed by declarative sentences, bearers of alethic and modal properties, and objects of belief and other psychological attitudes. The idea that propositions have constituent structure, mirroring somehow the sentences that express them, comes down to us from Frege . More recently, the idea has been adopted by Kaplan and figures prominently in ‘Russellian’ semantic theories of Salmon , Soames and others. The big debate in recent philosophy of language focuses on the identity of propositional constituents: are they senses, as in Frege? Or the things linguistic expressions designate, as in Russellian theories? Though his sympathies plainly lie with the Russellians, King remains officially neutral on this dispute, focusing instead on the question of structure itself.Structured propositions are often represented as …
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DOI 10.1093/analys/anp029
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References found in this work BETA
Paul Benacerraf (1965). What Numbers Could Not Be. Philosophical Review 74 (1):47-73.

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Jeffrey C. King (2009). XIII-Questions of Unity. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 109 (1pt3):257-277.

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