Attitudinal Objects

Abstract
Note: The content of this paper is now part of Chapter 4 of 'Abstract Objects and The Semantics of Natural Language', Oxford UP 2013) Propositions have played a central role in philosophy of language since Frege. Propositions are generally taken to be the objects of propositional attitude, the meaning of sentences, the primary bearers of truth and falsehood, and the kinds of things that quantifiers in sentential position range over. As objects of propositional attitudes, propositions can be shared by different agents and moreover can be represented in one language or another. Thus, propositions are generally taken to be mind- and language-independent entities. In this paper, I want to argue that the notion of a proposition, because of a range of philosophical problems as well as problems of linguistic adequacy, should be replaced by a different notion, for almost all the roles for it has been invoked. The objects that are involved in propositional attitudes, that act as primary truth bearers, and that quantifiers in sentential position range over, I want to argue, are not propositions, but what I call attitudinal objects (or kinds of them). Attitudinal objects are entities like ‘John’s belief that S’, ‘John’s claim that S’, and ‘John’s desire to do X’. Like propositions, attitudinal objects intuitively have truth conditions essentially – or, in the case of objects like desires, corresponding conditions of satisfaction. But unlike propositions, attitudinal objects are mind-dependent and possibly act-dependent, dependent on an attitude and possibly speech act of a particular agent. Nonetheless, attitudinal objects (or kinds of them), I will argue, can serve the roles of propositions. Attitudinal objects can be shared in the sense that attitudinal objects with the same content are exactly similar (or ‘the same’), and moreover two agents may share a kind of attitudinal object, a kind whose instances are exactly similar attitudinal objects. Attitudinal objects are closely related to mental events and speech acts. However, there are fundamental ontological differences between events or acts and attitudinal objects..
Keywords propositional attitudes  Clausal Complements
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