If [C1-3] are true, then we must identity some analyticity-relevant property other than character and content which differs between “Hesperus” and “Phosphorus.” On Gill’s view this is the property of having a certain reference determiner.
A Millian-Russellian semantic theory is one according to which the meanings of proper names are the objects for which they stand, and the meanings of predicates are the properties (or relations) they express. Given a compositionality principle (which I will assume), the Millian-Russellian must hold that sentences which differ only in the substitution of proper names which have the same reference (relative to the relevant context) must express the same proposition.
Benj’s paper is a characteristically thoughtful, imaginative, and wide-ranging exploration of the relationship between certain direct realist theories of perception and the nature of perceptual justification — with some formal semantics thrown in for good measure. Here I’ll focus on just one of the many topics about which Benj has something to say: his remarks on the topic of the relationship that must obtain between a perceptual state and a belief in order for the former to immediately justify the latter.
Increasingly, beginning in the 1970’s and 1980’s, many philosophers of language found themselves in a difficult situation. On the one hand, many came to believe that, in order to do semantics properly, as well as to give an adequate treatment of the attitudes, one needed to posit certain entities — propositions — which could be the meanings of sentences (relative to contexts), the contents of mental states, and the primary bearers of truth and falsity. However, many — largely due to (...) the arguments of Scott Soames1 — also came to distrust the standard theoretical account of the nature of propositions, which treated them as sets of worlds, and came to think of them instead as structured entities of some sort. (shrink)
The question I’d like to focus on is the question: what’s really at issue in the debate between the transparency theorist and the qualia realist? To answer this question it will be useful to start off with Tye’s very clear and, I think, representative ways of defining these views.
I argue that the best way to solve Russell's problem of the relationship between propositions and their constituents is to think of propositions as properties of worlds. I argue that this view preserves the strengths and avoids some of the weaknesses of the view of the metaphysics of propositions defended by Jeff King in his _The Nature and Structure of Content_, and that it provides an explanation of the representational properties of propositions and the nature of indexical belief. I conclude (...) by discussing some problems about how to think about the semantics of propositional attitude ascriptions, if a view of this sort is correct. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga gave a reductio of the conjunction of the following three theses: Existentialism (the view that, e.g., the proposition that Socrates exists can't exist unless Socrates does), Serious Actualism (the view that nothing can have a property at a world without existing at that world) and Contingency (the view that some objects, like Socrates, exist only contingently). I sketch a view of truth at a world which enables the Existentialist to resist Plantinga's argument without giving up either Serious Actualism (...) or Contingency. (shrink)
Most arguments against God’s existence aim to show that it is incompatible with various apparent features of the world, such as the existence of evil or of human free will. In response, theists have sought to show that God’s existence is compatible with these features of the world. However, the fact that the proposition that God exists is necessary if possible introduces some underappreciated difficulties for these arguments.
Millians sometimes claim that we can explain the fact that sentences like "If Hesperus exists, then Hesperus is Phosphorus" seem a posteriori to speakers in terms of the fact that utterances of sentences of this sort would typically pragmatically convey propositions which really are a posteriori. I argue that this kind of pragmatic explanation of the seeming a posterioricity of sentences of this sort fails. The main reason is that for every sentence like the above which (by Millian lights) is (...) a priori, seems a posteriori to most speakers, and would typically be used to convey a posteriori propositions, there is another which (again, by Millian lights) is a priori, seems a posteriori to most speakers, but can only typically be used to convey a priori propositions. (shrink)
Even if spectrum inversion of various sorts is possible, spectrum inversion without a difference in representation is not. So spectrum inversion does not pose a challenge for the intentionalist thesis that, necessarily, within a given sense modality, if two experiences are alike with respect to content, they are also alike with respect to their phenomenal character. On the contrary, reflection on variants of standard cases of spectrum inversion provides a strong argument for intentionalism. Depending on one’s views about the possibility (...) of spectrum inversion, the impossibility of spectrum inversion without a difference in representation can also be used as an argument against a variety of reductive theories of mental representation. (shrink)
Many alleged counter-examples to intentionalism, the thesis that the phenomenology of perceptual experiences of a given sense modality supervenes on the contents of experiences of that modality, can be avoided by adopting a liberal view of the sorts of properties that can be represented in perceptual experience. I argue that there is a class of counter-examples to intentionalism, based on shifts in attention, which avoids this response. A necessary connection between the contents and phenomenal characters of perceptual experiences can be (...) preserved by distinguishing perceptual phenomenology from the phenomenology of attention; but even if this distinction is viable, these cases put pressure on the thesis that phenomenal character can, in general, be explained in terms of mental representation. (shrink)
One of Kripke's fundamental objections to descriptivism was that the theory misclassifies certain _a posteriori_ propositions expressed by sentences involving names as _a priori_. Though nowadays very few philosophers would endorse a descriptivism of the sort that Kripke criticized, many find two-dimensional semantics attractive as a kind of successor theory. Because two-dimensionalism needn't be a form of descriptivism, it is not open to the epistemic argument as formulated by Kripke; but the most promising versions of two-dimensionalism are open to a (...) close relative of that argument. (shrink)
Questions about the relative priorities of mind and language suffer from a double obscurity. First, it is often not clear which mental and linguistic facts are in question: we can ask about the relationship between any of the semantic or syntactic properties of public languages and the judgments, intentions, beliefs, or other propositional attitudes of speakers of those languages. Second, there is an obscurity about what 'priority' comes to here.We can approach the first problem by way of the second. Often, (...) talk about one class of facts being prior to another is glossed in terms of the claim that we can give an account of the latter in terms of the former. This gloss might seem to be a small advance, since it is .. (shrink)
I reply to the argument of Caplan (Philos Stud 133:181–198, 2007 ) against the conjunction of Millianism with the view that utterances of sentences involving names often pragmatically convey descriptively enriched propositions.
The most widely accepted and well worked out approaches to the foundations of meaning take facts about the meanings of linguistic expressions at a time to be derivative from the propositional attitudes of speakers of the language at that time. This mentalist strategy takes two principal forms, one which traces meaning to belief, and one which analyzes it in terms of communicative intentions. I argue that either form of mentalism fails, and conclude by suggesting that we can do better by (...) focusing on connections between linguistic meaning and the contents of perceptions (rather than beliefs or intentions), and by (following Kripke's approach to reference) replacing questions about the nature of meaning with questions about the nature of term introduction and meaning transmission. (shrink)
I argue that the transparency of experience provides the basis of arguments both for intentionalism -- understood as the view that there is a necessary connection between perceptual content and perceptual phenomenology -- and for the view that the contents of perceptual experiences are Russellian propositions. While each of these views is popular, there are apparent tensions between them, and some have thought that their combination is unstable. In the second half of the paper, I respond to these worries by (...) arguing that Russellianism is consistent with intentionalism, that their conjunction is consistent with both internalism about phenomenology and externalism about perceptual content, and that the resulting view receives independent support from the relationship between hallucination and thought. (shrink)
In "Assertion," Geach identified failure to attend to the distinction between meaning and speech act as a source of philosophical errors. I argue that failure to attend to this distinction, along with the parallel distinction between attitude and content, has been behind the idea that meaning and content are, in some sense, normative. By an argument parallel to Geach's argument against performative analyses of "good" we can show that the phenomena identified by theorists of the normativity of content are properties (...) in the first instance of speech act and propositional attitude types, rather than content as such. (shrink)
Some linguistic phenomena can occur in uses of language in thought, whereas others only occur in uses of language in communication. I argue that this distinction can be used as a test for whether a linguistic phenomenon can be explained via Grice’s theory of conversational implicature (or any theory similarly based on principles governing conversation). I argue further, on the basis of this test, that conversational implicature cannot be used to explain quantifier domain restriction or apparent substitution failures (...) involving coreferential names, but that it must be used to explain the phenomenon of referential uses of definite descriptions. I conclude with a brief discussion of the relevance of this point to the semantics/pragmatics distinction. (shrink)
Since the 1960's, work in the analytic tradition on the nature of mental and linguistic content has converged on the views that social facts about public language meaning are derived from facts about the thoughts of individuals, and that these thoughts are constituted by properties of the internal states of agents. I give a two-part argument against this picture of intentionality: first, that if mental content is prior to public language meaning, then a view of mental content much like the (...) causal-pragmatic theory presented by Robert Stalnaker in Inquiry must be correct; second, that the causal-pragmatic theory is false. I conclude with some positive suggestions regarding alternative solutions to the `problem of intentionality.'. (shrink)
In "Truth and Meaning", Davidson suggested that a truth theory can do the work of a theory of meaning: it can give the meanings of expressions of a language, and can explain the semantic competence of speakers of the language by stating information knowledge of which would suffice for competence. From the start, this program faced certain fundamental objections. One response to these objections has been to supplement the truth theory with additional rules of inference (e.g. from T-sentences to meaning (...) theorems). I argue that these modifications of Davidson's original idea fail to solve the problems with Davidsonian semantics, and that the prospects for a solution to these problems within the Davidsonian framework are dim. A general lesson to be drawn is that Davidsonian theories do not provide a viable alternative to Russellian and Fregean approaches to semantics which recognize the reality of language-independent contents. (shrink)
In the past twenty years, issues about the relationship between perception and thought have largely been framed in terms of the question of whether the contents of perception are nonconceptual. I argue that this debate has rested on an ambiguity in `nonconceptual content' and some false presuppositions about what is required for concept possession. Once these are cleared away, I argue that none of the arguments which have been advanced about nonconceptual content do much to threaten the natural view that (...) perception and thought are relations to the same kind of content. (shrink)
The nature of predication, and its relation to truth, is the central topic of Davidson’s posthumously published Truth and Predication . The main task which an account of predication should accomplish is a solution to the problem of predication; and that, Davidson tells us, is the problem of explaining what makes some collections of words, but not others, true or false (86). It is so-called because, Davidson thinks, the principal challenge faced by any answer to this problem is the problem (...) of explaining the distinctive contribution made by predicates to the truth or falsity of sentences. (shrink)