David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
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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References found in this work BETA
Donald Davidson (1984). Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation. Oxford University Press.
Jeffrey C. King (2007). The Nature and Structure of Content. Oxford University Press.
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1922/1999). Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Dover Publications.
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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