Abstracting propositions

Synthese 151 (2):157 - 176 (2006)
This paper examines the potential for abstracting propositions – an as yet untested way of defending the realist thesis that propositions as abstract entities exist. I motivate why we should want to abstract propositions and make clear, by basing an account on the neo-Fregean programme in arithmetic, what ontological and epistemological advantages a realist can gain from this. I then raise a series of problems for the abstraction that ultimately have serious repercussions for realism about propositions in general. I first identify problems about the number of entities able to be abstracted using these techniques. I then focus on how issues of language relativity result in problems akin to the Caesar problem in arithmetic by exposing circularity and modal concern over the status of the criterion of identity for propositions.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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