Gaskin's Ideal Unity

Dialectica 64 (2):279-88 (2010)
This is a (moderately long) book-length discussion of a problem that exercised the fathers of Analytic Philosophy, following a distinguished tradition in fact traceable to Plato’s later dialogues, the Parmenides and the Sophist . It is a problem that is not often discussed these days (but see King 2007, whose views are not explicitly discussed in this book – curiously, for a work otherwise as scholarly as any I have come across, countenancing proposals about the issues it discusses not just from the whole Western philosophical tradition, but even from Indian sources). The problem is: what is it that holds the constituents of a proposition together? As this way of putting it shows, the problem presupposes that there are propositions and that they have constituents. The book takes up these presuppositions in the first two chapters, justifying the commitment to propositions, explaining their role and their nature, and arguing for their structured character; then, in the two following chapters, it critically discusses well-known proposals for solving the unity problem, especially the one by Frege, according to which what holds the propositional constituents together is the fact that at least one of them has a functional or “unsaturated” character, and variants thereof in Russell, Strawson and others; and finally, in the last two chapters, it moves on to offer a boldly original solution, elaborates on it, and defends it from potential criticisms. All in all, it is, as the author advertises, “a fuller treatment of its topic than has ever been undertaken” – and a very interesting and rewarding read at that
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References found in this work BETA
Kit Fine (1995). Ontological Dependence. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 95:269 - 290.
Theo M. V. Janssen (2001). Frege, Contextuality and Compositionality. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 10 (1):115-136.

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Richard Gaskin (2010). The Unity of the Proposition: Reply to Denyer. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):729-730.

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