In a series of recent publications, Jeffrey King (The nature and structure of content, 2007; Proc Aristot Soc 109(3):257–277, 2009; Philos Stud, 2012) argues for a view on which propositions are facts. He also argues against views on which propositions are set-theoretical objects, in part because such views face Benacerraf problems. In this paper, we argue that, when it comes to Benacerraf problems, King’s view doesn’t fare any better than its set-theoretical rivals do. Finally, we argue that his view faces (...) a further Benacerraf problem, one that threatens to undercut his explanation of why propositions have truth-conditions. If correct, our arguments undercut King’s main motivation for accepting his view over its rivals. (shrink)
Some descriptivists reply to the modal argument by appealing to scope ambiguities. In this paper, we argue that those replies donâ€™t work in the case of apparently empty names like â€˜Sherlock Holmesâ€™.
Three plausible views—Presentism, Truthmaking, and Independence—form an inconsistent triad. By Presentism, all being is present being. By Truthmaking, all truth supervenes on, and is explained in terms of, being. By Independence, some past truths do not supervene on, or are not explained in terms of, present being. We survey and assess some responses to this.
In 1988, Michael Nyman composed the score for Peter Greenaway’s film Drowning by Numbers (or did something that we would ordinarily think of as composing that score). We can think of Nyman’s compositional activity as a “generative performance” and of the sound structure that Nyman indicated (or of some other abstract object that is appropriately related to that sound structure) as the product generated by that performance (ix).1 According to one view, Nyman’s score for Drowning by the Numbers—the musical work—is (...) the product generated by Nyman’s compositional activity (namely, an abstract object) and, more generally, artworks are identified with the products generated by compositional or other creative activities. Let’s call this view The Product Theory. By contrast, according to another view, Nyman’s score for Drowning by Numbers is the generative performance itself (namely, Nyman’s compositional activity) and, more generally, artworks are identified with generative performances themselves. Following David Davies in Art as Performance, let’s call this view The Performance Theory (80). In that book, Davies argues for The Performance Theory and against The Product Theory. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against Millian Descriptivism: that is, the view that, although sentences that contain names express singular propositions, when they use those sentences speakers communicate descriptive propositions. More precisely, I argue that Millian Descriptivism fares no better (or worse) than Fregean Descriptivism: that is, the view that sentences express descriptive propositions. This is bad news for Millian Descriptivists who think that Fregean Descriptivism is dead.
The intentionalist about consciousness holds that the qualitative character of experience, “what it's like,” is determined by the contents of a select group of special intentional states of the subject. Fred Dretske (1995), Mike Thau (2002), Michael Tye (1995) and many others have embraced intentionalism, but these philosophers have not generally appreciated that, since we are intimately familiar with the qualitative character of experience, we thereby have special access to the nature of these contents. In this paper, we take advantage (...) of this fact to show that intentionalism is incompatible with the idea that these contents are singular or general propositions, and thus that intentionalism is incompatible with one dominant trend in thinking about contents in general. In particular, there appear to be insoluble difficulties in explaining how the phenomenology of place and time can be explained by any intentionalist theory appealing to singular or general propositions. (shrink)
Levinson argues that musical works are individuated by their context of origin. But one could just as well argue that musical works are individuated by their context of reception. Moderate contextualism, according to which musical works are individuated by context of origin but not by context of reception, thus appears to be an unstable position. And, although a more thoroughgoing contextualism, according to which musical works are individuated both by context of origin and by context of reception, faces a number (...) of problems, it is nonetheless supported (at least to some extent) by critical practice. (shrink)
Jerrold Levinson argues that musical works are individuated by their context of origin. But one could just as well argue that musical works are individuated by their context of reception. Moderate contextualism, according to which musical works are individuated by context of origin but not by context of reception, thus appears to be an unstable position. And, although a more thoroughgoing contextualism, according to which musical works are individuated both by context of origin and by context of reception, faces a (...) number of problems, it is nonetheless supported (at least to some extent) by critical practice. (shrink)
If musical works are abstract objects, which cannot enter into causal relations, then how can we refer to musical works or know anything about them? Worse, how can any of our musical experiences be experiences of musical works? It would be nice to be able to sidestep these questions altogether. One way to do that would be to take musical works to be concrete objects. In this paper, we defend a theory according to which musical works are concrete objects. In (...) particular, the theory that we defend takes musical works to be fusions of performances. We defend this view from a series of objections, the first two of which are raised by Julian Dodd in a recent paper and the last of which is suggested by some comments of his in an earlier paper. (shrink)
Descriptivists say that every name is synonymous with some definite description, and Descriptivists who are Widescopers say that the definite description that a name is synonymous with must take wide scope with respect to modal adverbs such as “necessarily”. In this paper, I argue against Widescopism. Widescopers should be Super Widescopers: that is, they should say that the definite description that a name is synonymous with must take wide scope with respect to complementizers such as “that”. Super Widescopers should be (...) Super Duper Widescopers: that is, they should say that the definite description that a name is synonymous with must take wide scope with respect to quotation marks. And Super Duper Widescopers should be Ultra Super Duper Widescopers: that is, they should say that, when the definite description that a name is synonymous with itself contains a name, the definite description that that name is synonymous with must take wide scope with respect to modal adverbs, complementizers, and quotation marks. But Descriptivists should not be Ultra Super Duper Widescopers. So Descriptivists should not be Widescopers either. (shrink)
In “Tropes and Ordinary Physical Objects”, Kris McDaniel argues that ordinary physical objects are fusions of monadic and polyadic tropes. McDaniel calls his view “TOPO”—for “Theory of Ordinary Physical Objects”. He argues that we should accept TOPO because of the philosophical work that it allows us to do. Among other things, TOPO is supposed to allow endurantists to reply to Mark Heller’s argument for <span class='Hi'>perdurantism</span>. But, we argue in this paper, TOPO does not help endurantists do that; indeed, we (...) argue that anyone who accepts TOPO should reject endurantism. (shrink)
In the nineteenth century, astronomers thought that a planet between Mercury and the Sun was causing perturbations in the orbit of Mercury, and they introduced ‘Vulcan’ as a name for such a planet. But they were wrong: there was, and is, no intra-Mercurial planet. Still, these astronomers went around saying things like (2) Vulcan is a planet between Mercury and the Sun. Some philosophers think that, when nineteenth-century astronomers were theorizing about an intra-Mercurial planet, they created a hypothetical planet.
Can a musical work be created? Some say ‘no’. But, we argue, there is no handbook of universally accepted metaphysical truths that they can use to justify their answer. Others say ‘yes’. They have to find abstract objects that can plausibly be identified with musical works, show that abstract objects of this sort can be created, and show that such abstract objects can persist. But, we argue, none of the standard views about what a musical work is allows musical works (...) both to be created and to persist. (shrink)
Thanks to David Kaplan (1989a, 1989b), we all know how to handle indexicals like ‘I’. ‘I’ doesn’t refer to an object simpliciter; rather, it refers to an object only relative to a context. In particular, relative to a context C, ‘I’ refers to the agent of C. Since different contexts can have different agents, ‘I’ can refer to different objects relative to different contexts. For example, relative to a context cwhose agent is Gottlob Frege, ‘I’ refers to Frege; relative to (...) a context 0* whose agent is Alexius.. (shrink)
In my dissertation (UCLA 2002), I argue that, by appropriating Fregean resources, Millians can solve the problems that empty names pose. As a result, the debate between Millians and Fregeans should be understood, not as a debate about whether there are senses, but rather as a debate about where there are senses.
In "Demonstratives or Demonstrations", Marga Reimer argues that quotation marks are demonstrations and that expressions enclosed with them are demonstratives. In this paper, I argue against her view. There are two objections. The first objection is that Reimer''s view has unattractive consequences: there is more ambiguity, there are more demonstratives, and there are more English expressions than we thought. The second objection is that, unlike other ambiguous expressions, some expressions that are ambiguous on Reimer''s view can''t be disambiguated by using (...) subscripts. This suggests that, contrary to her view, those expressions aren't really ambiguous. (shrink)
Alan Berger’s Terms and Truth covers various expressionsparticularly names and anaphoric pronouns, but also demonstratives and general termsas they occur in various linguistic contexts, including identity sentences, belief ascriptions, and negative existentials. A central thesis of Berger’s book is that all of these expressions are rigid designators. (So I assume that Berger would say, contrary to what the subtitle might suggest, that anaphoric reference is direct reference.).