David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Dialectica 65 (3):393-418 (2011)
The problem of the ‘Unity of the Proposition’ is the problem of explaining the difference between a content-expressing declarative sentence and a ‘mere list’ of referents. The prevailing view is that such a problem is to be solved metaphysically, either by reducing our ontology to exclude propositions or universals, or by explaining how it is possible for a certain kind of complex entity – the ‘proposition’– to ‘unify’ its constituents. I argue that these metaphysical approaches cannot succeed; instead the only viable approach is linguistic, identifying features of the (type–) sentence itself that enable it to express a content. Thus the problem of the ‘Unity of the Proposition’ (distinguishing sentences from lists) is distinct from the problem of ‘propositional unity’ (explaining how the constituents of propositions form a unified content). I suggest that, while the latter problem is not pressing, the former does not permit of an answer which applies in generality in all languages; we can only fully explain the Unity of the Proposition for single languages or groups of similar languages
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Donald Davidson (1984). Communication and Convention. Synthese 59 (1):3 - 17.
Donald Davidson (1984). Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation. Oxford University Press.
Donald Davidson (2005). Truth and Predication. Harvard University Press.
Donald Davidson (1967). The Logical Form of Action Sentences. In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), The Logic of Decision and Action. University of Pittsburgh Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Bjørn Jespersen (2012). Recent Work on Structured Meaning and Propositional Unity. Philosophy Compass 7 (9):620-630.
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