David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In a memorable paper, Donald Davidson (1986, p. 446) insists that "there is no such thing as a language, not if a language is anything like what many philosophers and linguists have supposed". I have always taken this as an exaggeration, albeit an apt exaggeration that might be philosophically helpful. Now when it comes to predication, what I would have expected to hear from the same author would be along the lines of "there is no such thing as predication ... ". But instead of this I hear something very different (Davidson, 2005, p. 77): [I]f we do not understand predication, we do not understand how any sentence works, nor can we account for the structure of the simplest thought that is expressible in language. At one time there was much discussion of what was called the "unity of proposition"; it is just this unity that a theory of predication must explain. The philosophy of language lacks its most important chapter without such a theory, the philosophy of mind is missing its crucial first step if it cannot describe the nature of judgment; and it is woeful if metaphysics cannot say how a substance is related to its attributes. I find myself at odds with just about everything written in this paragraph; and what is worse, my disagreement stems from a notion of language which I believe I have acquired also by reading Davidson. Reading this passage, I desperately sought for an indication that it was leading up to some catch, and not meant to be taken at face value. But, alas, I am afraid there is none. To avoid misunderstanding: I see nothing wrong in understanding predication as a clearly delimited linguistic phenomenon. We put together one kind of expression, which we have come to call the subject, with a different kind of expression, called the predicate, possibly..
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Bjørn Jespersen (2012). Recent Work on Structured Meaning and Propositional Unity. Philosophy Compass 7 (9):620-630.
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