ABSTRACT: Part 1 discusses the Stoic notion of propositions (assertibles, axiomata): their definition; their truth-criteria; the relation between sentence and proposition; propositions that perish; propositions that change their truth-value; the temporal dependency of propositions; the temporal dependency of the Stoic notion of truth; pseudo-dates in propositions. Part 2 discusses Stoic modal logic: the Stoic definitions of their modal notions (possibility, impossibility, necessity, non-necessity); the logical relations between the modalities; modalities as properties (...) of propositions; contingent propositions; the relation between the Stoic modal notions and those of Diodorus Cronus and Philo of Megara; the role of ‘external hindrances’ for the modalities; the temporal dependency of the modalities; propositions that change their modalities; the principle that something possible can follow from something impossible; the interpretations of the Stoic modal system by B. Mates, M. Kneale, M. Frede, J. Vuillemin and M. Mignucci are evaluated. -/- For a much shorter English version of Part 1 of the book see my ‘Stoic Logic’, in K. Algra et al. (eds), The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy, Cambridge 1999, 92-157. For a shorter, updated, English version of Part 2 of the book see my 'Chrysippus' Modal Logic and its Relation to Philo and Diodorus', in K. Doering / Th. Ebert (eds) Dialektiker und Stoiker (Stuttgart 1993) 63-84. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: An introduction to Stoic logic. Stoic logic can in many respects be regarded as a fore-runner of modern propositional logic. I discuss: 1. the Stoic notion of sayables or meanings (lekta); the Stoic assertibles (axiomata) and their similarities and differences to modern propositions; the time-dependency of their truth; 2.-3. assertibles with demonstratives and quantified assertibles and their truth-conditions; truth-functionality of negations and conjunctions; non-truth-functionality of disjunctions and conditionals; language regimentation and ‘bracketing’ devices; Stoic (...) basic principles of propositional logic; 4. Stoic modal logic; 5. Stoic theory of arguments: two premisses requirement; validity and soundness; 6. Stoic syllogistic or theory of formally valid arguments: a reconstruction of the Stoic deductive system, which consisted of accounts of five types of indemonstrable syllogisms, which function as nullary argumental rules that identify indemonstrables or axioms of the system, and four deductive rules (themata) by which certain complex arguments can be reduced to indemonstrables and thus shown to be formally valid themselves; 7. arguments that were considered as non-syllogistically valid (subsyllogistic and unmethodically concluding arguments). Their validity was explained by recourse to formally valid arguments. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: A detailed presentation of Stoic logic, part one, including their theories of propositions (or assertibles, Greek: axiomata), demonstratives, temporal truth, simple propositions, non-simple propositions(conjunction, disjunction, conditional), quantified propositions, logical truths, modal logic, and general theory of arguments (including definition, validity, soundness, classification of invalid arguments).
ABSTRACT: The 3rd BCE Stoic logician "Chrysippus says that the number of conjunctions constructible from ten propositions exceeds one million. Hipparchus refuted this, demonstrating that the affirmative encompasses 103,049 conjunctions and the negative 310,952." After laying dormant for over 2000 years, the numbers in this Plutarch passage were recently identified as the 10th (and a derivative of the 11th) Schröder number, and F. Acerbi showed how the 2nd BCE astronomer Hipparchus could have calculated them. What remained unexplained is (...) why Hipparchus’ logic differed from Stoic logic, and consequently, whether Hipparchus actually refuted Chrysippus. This paper closes these explanatory gaps. (1) I reconstruct Hipparchus’ notions of conjunction and negation, and show how they differ from Stoic logic. (2) Based on evidence from Stoic logic, I reconstruct Chrysippus’ calculations, thereby (a) showing that Chrysippus’ claim of over a million conjunctions was correct; and (b) shedding new light on Stoic logic and – possibly – on 3rd century BCE combinatorics. (3) Using evidence about the developments in logic from the 3rd to the 2nd centuries, including the amalgamation of Peripatetic and Stoic theories, I explain why Hipparchus, in his calculations, used the logical notions he did, and why he may have thought they were Stoic. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: The modal systems of the Stoic logician Chrysippus and the two Hellenistic logicians Philo and Diodorus Cronus have survived in a fragmentary state in several sources. From these it is clear that Chrysippus was acquainted with Philo’s and Diodorus’ modal notions, and also that he developed his own in contrast of Diodorus’ and in some way incorporated Philo’s. The goal of this paper is to reconstruct the three modal systems, including their modal definitions and modal theorems, and to (...) make clear the exact relations between them; moreover, to elucidate the philosophical reasons that may have led Chrysippus to modify his predessors’ modal concept in the way he did. It becomes apparent that Chrysippus skillfully combined Philo’s and Diodorus’ modal notions, with making only a minimal change to Diodorus’ concept of possibility; and that he thus obtained a modal system of modalities (logical and physical) which fit perfectly fit into Stoic philosophy. (shrink)
Propositions are generally thought to have a truth-value only relative to some parameter or sequence of parameters. Many apparently straightforward notions, like what it is to disagree or retain a belief, become harder to explain once propositional truth is thus relativized. An account of disagreement within a framework involving such ‘stoic’ propositions is here presented. Some resources developed in that account are then used to respond to the eternalist charge that temporalist propositions can't function as belief (...) contents because they don't allow us to make adequate sense of what belief retention amounts to. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Alexander of Aphrodisias’ commentaries on Aristotle’s Organon are valuable sources for both Stoic and early Peripatetic logic, and have often been used as such – in particular for early Peripatetic hypothetical syllogistic and Stoic propositional logic. By contrast, this paper explores the role Alexander himself played in the development and transmission of those theories. There are three areas in particular where he seems to have made a difference: First, he drew a connection between certain passages from Aristotle’s (...) Topics and Prior Analytics and the Stoic indemonstrable arguments, and, based on this connection, appropriated at least four kinds of Stoic indemonstrables as Aristotelian. Second, he developed and made use of a specifically Peripatetic terminology in which to describe and discuss those arguments – which facilitated the integration of the indemonstrables into Peripatetic logic. Third, he made some progress towards a solution to the problem of what place and interpretation the Stoic third indemonstrables should be given in a Peripatetic and Platonist setting. Overall, the picture emerges that Alexander persistently (if not always consistently) presented passages from Aristotle’s logical œuvre in a light that makes it appear as if Aristotle was in the possession of a Peripatetic correlate to the Stoic theory of indemonstrables. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: This paper traces the evidence in Galen's Introduction to Logic (Institutio Logica) for a hypothetical syllogistic which predates Stoic propositional logic. It emerges that Galen is one of our main witnesses for such a theory, whose authors are most likely Theophrastus and Eudemus. A reconstruction of this theory is offered which - among other things - allows to solve some apparent textual difficulties in the Institutio Logica.
ABSTRACT: This paper discusses the Stoic treatment of fallacies that are based on lexical ambiguities. It provides a detailed analysis of the relevant passages, lays bare textual and interpretative difficulties, explores what the Stoic view on the matter implies for their theory of language, and compares their view with Aristotle’s. In the paper I aim to show that, for the Stoics, fallacies of ambiguity are complexes of propositions and sentences and thus straddle the realms of meaning (which (...) is the domain of logic) and of linguistic expressions (which is the domain of linguistics), but also involve a pragmatic element; that the Stoics believe that the premises of the fallacies, when uttered, have only one meaning and are true, and thus should be conceded; that hence there is no need for a mental process of disambiguation in the listeners; that Aristotle, by contrast, appears to assume that the premises always have all their meanings, and accordingly recommends that the listeners explicitly disambiguate them, which presupposes a process of mental disambiguation. I proffer two readings of the Stoic advice that we ‘be silent’ when confronted with a fallacy of ambiguity in dialectical discourse, and explicate how each leads to an overall consistent interpretation of the textual evidence. Finally, I demonstrate that the method advocated by the Stoics works in all cases of fallacies of lexical ambiguity. (shrink)
The Stoic philosopher Chrysippus wrote extensively on the liar paradox, but unfortunately the extant testimony on his response to the paradox is meager and mainly hostile. Modern scholars, beginning with Alexander Rüstow in the first decade of the twentieth century, have attempted to reconstruct Chrysippus? solution. Rüstow argued that Chrysippus advanced a cassationist solution, that is, one in which sentences such as ?I am speaking falsely? do not express propositions. Two more recent scholars, Walter Cavini and Mario Mignucci, (...) have rejected Rüstow's thesis that Chrysippus used a cassationist approach. Each has proposed his own thesis about Chrysippus? solution. I argue that Rüstow's view is fundamentally correct, and that the cassationist thesis gains greater plausibility when viewed in light of a passage in Sextus Empiricus? Adversus mathematicos that the previous commentators have ignored, and when understood within the broader context of Stoic logical theory and philosophy of language. I close with a brief remark on the significance of Chrysippus? work for the modern debate on the semantic paradoxes. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: In this paper I argue (i) that the hypothetical arguments about which the Stoic Chrysippus wrote numerous books (DL 7.196) are not to be confused with the so-called "hypothetical syllogisms", but are the same hypothetical arguments as those mentioned five times in Epictetus (e.g. Diss. 1.25.11-12); and (ii) that these hypothetical arguments are formed by replacing in a non-hypothetical argument one (or more) of the premisses by a Stoic "hypothesis" or supposition. Such "hypotheses" or suppositions differ from (...)propositions in that they have a specific logical form and no truth-value. The reason for the introduction of a distinct class of hypothetical arguments can be found in the context of dialectical argumentation. The paper concludes with the discussion of some evidence for the use of Stoic hypothetical arguments in ancient texts. (shrink)
One of the most intriguing claims of Stoic logic is Chrysippus's denial of the modal principle that the impossible does not follow from the possible. Chrysippus's argument against this principle involves the idea that some propositions are ?destroyed? or ?perish?. According to the standard interpretation of Chrysippus's argument, propositions cease to exist when they are destroyed. Ide has presented an alternative interpretation according to which destroyed propositions persist after destruction and are false. I argue that Ide's (...) alternative interpretation as well as some versions of the standard interpretation conflict with Stoic doctrines about the nature of propositions. I propose another version of the standard interpretation based on Frede's account of the Stoic theory of the proposition. I hold that this version of the standard interpretation both escapes Ide's objections and is consistent with Stoic logic and philosophy of language. (shrink)
An examination of a particular passage in Cicero's De fato?Fat. 13?17?is crucial to our understanding of the Stoic theory of the truth-conditions of conditional propositions, for it has been uniquely important in the debate concerning the kind of connection the antecedent and consequent of a Stoic conditional should have to one another. Frede has argued that the passage proves that the connection is one of logical necessity, while Sorabji has argued that positive Stoic attitudes toward empirical (...) inferences elsewhere suggest that that cannot be the right interpretation of the passage. I argue that both parties to the debate have missed a position somewhere between them which both renders a connection between antecedent and consequent that is not merely empirical and makes sense of the actual uses to which the Stoics put the conditional. This will be an account which grounds the connection between antecedent and consequent in a prolêpsis, a special kind of concept which plays a special epistemological role for the Stoics, especially in grounding scientific explanations. My contention will be that Stoic conditionals are true when there is a conceptually necessary connection between antecedent and consequent such that the former explains the latter via a prolêpsis. (shrink)
It is very difficult to get a clear picture of how the Stoic is supposed to deliberate. This paper considers a number of possible pictures, which cover such a wide range of options that some look Kantian and others utilitarian. Each has some textual support but is also unworkable in certain ways: there seem to be genuine and unresolved conflicts at the heart of Stoic ethics. And these are apparently due not to developmental changes within the school, but (...) to the Stoics’ having adopted implicitly incompatible solutions in response to different philosophical challenges. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: For the Stoics, a syllogism is a formally valid argument; the primary function of their syllogistic is to establish such formal validity. Stoic syllogistic is a system of formal logic that relies on two types of argumental rules: (i) 5 rules (the accounts of the indemonstrables) which determine whether any given argument is an indemonstrable argument, i.e. an elementary syllogism the validity of which is not in need of further demonstration; (ii) one unary and three binary argumental rules (...) which establish the formal validity of non-indemonstrable arguments by analysing them in one or more steps into one or more indemonstrable arguments (cut type rules and antilogism). The function of these rules is to reduce given non-indemonstrable arguments to indemonstrable syllogisms. Moreover, the Stoic method of deduction differs from standard modern ones in that the direction is reversed (similar to tableau methods). The Stoic system may hence be called an argumental reductive system of deduction. In this paper, a reconstruction of this system of logic is presented, and similarities to relevance logic are pointed out. (shrink)
Philosophers often talk about the things we say, or believe, or think, or mean. The things are often called ‘propositions’. A proposition is what one believes, or thinks, or means when one believes, thinks, or means something. Talk about propositions is ubiquitous when philosophers turn their gaze to language, meaning and thought. But what are propositions? Is there a single class of things that serve as the objects of belief, the bearers of truth, and the meanings of (...) utterances? How do our utterances express propositions? Under what conditions do two speakers say the same thing, and what (if anything) does this tell us about the nature of propositions? There is no consensus on these questions—or even on whether propositions should be treated as things at all. During the second Propositions and Same-Saying workshop, which took place on July 19–21 2010 at the University of Sydney, philosophers debated these (and related) questions. The workshop covered topics in the philosophy of language, perception, and metaphysics. The present volume contains revised and expanded versions of the papers presented at the workshop. (shrink)
It is argued that propositions cannot be the compositional semantic values of sentences (in context) simply due to issues stemming from the compositional semantics of modal operators (or modal quantifiers). In particular, the fact that the arguments for double indexing generalize to multiple indexing exposes a fundamental tension in the default philosophical conception of semantic theory. This provides further motivation for making a distinction between two sentential semantic contents—what (Dummett 1973) called “ingredient sense” and “assertoric content”.
In Bertrand Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics and related works, the notion of a proposition plays an important role; it is by analyzing propositions, showing what kinds of constituents they have, that Russell arrives at his core logical concepts. At this time, his conception of proposition contains both a conventional and an unconventional part. The former is the view that propositions are the ultimate truth-bearers; the latter is the view that the constituents of propositions are “worldly” entities. (...) In the latter respect, Russellian propositions are akin to states-of-affairs on some robust understanding of these entities. The idea of Russellian propositions is well known, at least in outline. Not so well known is his treatment of truth, which nevertheless grows directly out of this notion of proposition. For the early Russell, the import of truth is primarily metaphysical, rather than semantic; reversing the usual direction of explanation, he holds that truth is explanatory of what is the case rather than vice versa. That is, what properties a thing has and what relations it bears to other things is determined, metaphysically speaking, by there being a suitable array of true and false propositions. In the present paper, this doctrine is examined for its content and motivation. To show that it plays a genuine role in Russell’s early metaphysics and logic, I examine its consequences for (1) the possibility of truth-definitions and (2) the problem of the unity of the proposition. I shall draw a few somewhat tentative conclusions about where Russell stood vis-à-vis his metaphysics of propositions, suggesting a possible source of dissatisfaction that may have played a role in his eventual rejection of his early notion of proposition. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: In contemporary discussions of freedom in Stoic philosophy we often encounter the following assumptions: (i) the Stoics discussed the problem of free will and determinis; (ii) since in Stoic philosophy freedom of the will is in the end just an illusion, the Stoics took the freedom of the sage as a substitute for it and as the only true freedom; (iii) in the c. 500 years of live Stoic philosophical debate, the Stoics were largely concerned with (...) the same philosophical problems of freedom. In this paper I argue that (i) can be upheld only in a very restricted way; (ii) is altogether untenable; and regarding (iii), that, although there may have occurred little change in the Stoic philosophical position on freedom over the centuries, we can detect more than one transformation of the philosophical problems that were at the forefront of the discussion. Moreover, that all the conceptions and problems of freedom were linked to Stoic ethics, and that the differences between them become transparent when one considers their various roles in this context. (shrink)
The tremendous influence Stoicism has exerted on ethical thought from early Christianity through Immanuel Kant and into the twentieth century is rarely understood and even more rarely appreciated. Throughout history, Stoic ethical doctrines have both provoked harsh criticisms and inspired enthusiastic defenders. The Stoics defined the goal in life as living in agreement with nature. Humans, unlike all other animals, are constituted by nature to develop reason as adults, which transforms their understanding of themselves and their own true good. (...) The Stoics held that virtue is the only real good and so is both necessary and, contrary to Aristotle, sufficient for happiness; it in no way depends on luck. The virtuous life is free of all passions, which are intrinsically disturbing and harmful to the soul, but includes appropriate emotive responses conditioned by rational understanding and the fulfillment of all one's personal, social, professional, and civic responsibilities. The Stoics believed that the person who has achieved perfect consistency in the operation of his rational faculties, the "wise man," is extremely rare, yet serves as a prescriptive ideal for all. The Stoics believed that progress toward this noble goal is both possible and vitally urgent. (shrink)
According to many actualists, propositions, singular propositions in particular, are structurally complex, that is, roughly, (i) they have, in some sense, an internal structure that corresponds rather directly to the syntactic structure of the sentences that express them, and (ii) the metaphysical components, or constituents, of that structure are the semantic values — the meanings — of the corresponding syntactic components of those sentences. Given that reference is "direct", i.e., that the meaning of a name is its denotation, (...) an apparent consequence of this view is that any proposition expressed by a sentence containing a name that denotes a contingent being S is itself contingent — notably, the proposition [S does not exist]. Assuming that an entity must exist to have a property, necessarily, [S does not exist] must exist in order to be true. It seems to follow that, necessarily, [S does not exist] is not true and, hence, that S is not contingent after all. Past approaches to the problem — notably, those of Prior and Adams — lead to highly undesirable consequences for quantified modal logic. In this paper, several solutions to this puzzle are developed that preserve actualism, the structured view of propositions, the direct theory of reference, and the intuition that [S does not exist] is indeed possible without the adverse consequences for QML of previous solutions. (shrink)
I argue that there is an inherent tension in the notion of a proposition that gives us reason to doubt that there can be any single entity that plays all the roles and possesses all the features normally attributed to propositions. The tension is that some of the roles and features of propositions require them to be essentially representational, while others require them to be non-representational. I first present what I call the standard view of propositions: a (...) series of theses outlining the roles they are normally thought to play and the features they are normally thought to possess. I then highlight a number of tensions inherent in the standard view. I illustrate how this very tension creates problems for some realist theories of propositions. I discuss the distinction between the truth of a proposition and its existence, and argue that paying heed to this distinction allows us to identify, and clear up, a particular confusion that leads us to posit propositions in the first place. Finally, I consider where a rejection of propositions leaves us, ontologically and theoretically. (shrink)
Neo-Russellian theories of structured propositions face challenges to do with both representation and structure which are sometimes called the problem of unity and the Benacerraf problem. In §i, I set out the problems and Jeffrey King's solution, which I take to be the best of its type, as well as an unfortunate consequence for that solution. In §§ii–iii, I diagnose what is going wrong with this line of thought. If I am right, it follows that the Benacerraf problem cannot (...) be used to motivate the view that propositions are irreducible elements of our ontology. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss two concerns for pluralist truth theories: a concern about a key detail of these theories and a concern about their viability. The detailed-related concern is that pluralists have relied heavily upon the notion of a domain, but it is not transparent what they take domains to be. Since the notion of a domain has been present in philosophy for some time, it is important for many theorists, not only truth pluralists, to be clear on what (...) domains are and what work they can do. -/- The viability-related concern is that it's not clear how a pluralist truth theory could explain the truth-conditions of mixed atomic propositions. To address this concern, truth pluralists should recognize something to which they have not been sufficiently attentive: that some atomic propositions belong to more than one domain. But, recognizing this requires rethinking the relationships between the nature of propositions, their membership in domains, and their truth. I address these issues and propose an understanding of them that is preferable to the best existing account of them, that offered by Michael Lynch. (shrink)
This paper defends a key aspect of the Peircean conception of truth—the idea that truth is in some sense epistemically-constrained. It does so by exploring parallels between Peirce’s epistemology of inquiry and that of Wittgenstein in On Certainty. The central argument defends a Peircean claim about truth by appeal to a view shared by Peirce and Wittgenstein about the structure of reasons. This view relies on the idea that certain claims have a special epistemic status, or function as what are (...) popularly called ‘hinge propositions’. (shrink)
In the paper we build up the ontology of Leśniewski’s type for formalizing synthetic propositions. We claim that for these propositions an unconventional square of opposition holds, where a, i are contrary, a, o (resp. e, i) are contradictory, e, o are subcontrary, a, e (resp. i, o) are said to stand in the subalternation. Further, we construct a non-Archimedean extension of Boolean algebra and show that in this algebra just two squares of opposition are formalized: conventional and (...) the square that we invented. As a result, we can claim that there are only two basic squares of opposition. All basic constructions of the paper (the new square of opposition, the formalization of synthetic propositions within ontology of Leśniewski’s type, the non-Archimedean explanation of square of opposition) are introduced for the first time. (shrink)
Prior propounded a theory that, if correct, explains how it is possible for a statement about propositions to be true even if there are no propositions. The major feature of his theory is his treatment of sentence letters as bindable variables in non-referential positions. His theory, however, does not include a semantical account of the resulting quantification. The paper tries to fill that gap.
ABSTRACT: Although from the 2nd century BC to the 3rd AD the problems of determinism were discussed almost exclusively under the heading of fate, early Stoic determinism, as introduced by Zeno and elaborated by Chrysippus, was developed largely in Stoic writings on physics, independently of any specific "theory of fate ". Stoic determinism was firmly grounded in Stoic cosmology, and the Stoic notions of causes, as corporeal and responsible for both sustenance and change, and of (...) effects as incorporeal and as predicates, are indispensable for a full understanding of the theory. Stoic determinism was originally not presented as causal determinism, but with a strong teleological element, in the context of a theory of natural motions, which makes use of a distinction between a global and an inner-worldly perspective on events. However, Chrysippus also employed his conception of causality in order to explicate his determinism, and can be shown to have maintained a universal causal determinism in the modern sense of the erm. The teleological and mechanical elements of early Stoic determinism were brought together in Chrysippus' conception of fate, which places elements of rationality in every cause. (shrink)
In sections 1 through 5, I develop in detail what I call the standard theory of worlds and propositions, and I discuss a number of purported objections. The theory consists of five theses. The first two theses, presented in section 1, assert that the propositions form a Boolean algebra with respect to implication, and that the algebra is complete, respectively. In section 2, I introduce the notion of logical space: it is a field of sets that represents the (...) propositional structure and whose space consists of all and only the worlds. The next three theses, presented in sections 3, 4, and 5, respectively, guarantee the existence of logical space, and further constrain its structure. The third thesis asserts that the set of propositions true at any world is maximal consistent; the fourth thesis that any two worlds are separated by a proposition; the fifth thesis that only one proposition is false at every world. In sections 6 through 10, I turn to the problem of reduction. In sections 6 and 7, I show how the standard theory can be used to support either a reduction of worlds to propositions or a reduction of propositions to worlds. A number of proposition-based theories are developed in section 6, and compared with Adams's world-story theory. A world-based theory is developed in section?, and Stalnaker's account of the matter is discussed. Before passing judgment on the proposition based and world-based theories, I ask in sections 8 and 9 whether both worlds and propositions might be reduced to something else. In section 8, I consider reductions to linguistic entities; in section 9, reductions to unfounded sets. After rejecting the possibility of eliminating both worlds and propositions, I return in section 10 to the possibility of eliminating one in favor of the other. I conclude, somewhat tentatively, that neither worlds nor propositions should be reduced one to the other, that both worlds and propositions should be taken as basic to our ontology. (shrink)
An Essay in the Metaphysics of Propositions Berit Brogaard. TRANSIENT TRUTHS An Essay in. the Metaphysics ofProposizions BERIT BROGAARD Transient Truths This page intentionally left blank Transient Truths An. Cover.
Russeilian or singular propositions are very useful in sernantics to specify "what has been said" by a literal and serious utterance of a sentence containing a proper name, an indexical or a dernonstrative, or for modeling demonstrative thoughts. Based on an example given by S. Guttenplan, I construct a case showing that if our only option for modeling dernonstrative thoughts is a singular proposition à la Russell, we run the risk of admitting infallible empirical (existential) beliefs. I defend the (...) principle of the fallibility of our (first order) representations by appealing to Perry's notionof a relational mode of presentation that allows us to generalize the proposition which is the content of the perceptual belief in cases of hallucination or misidentification, so that there is no "immunity to error through misidentification" in the province of demonstrative thought. (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)
In recent years, many philosophers have supposed that perceptual representations have propositional content. A prominent rationale for this supposition is the assumption that perceptions may justify beliefs, but this rationale can be doubted. This rationale may be doubted on the grounds that there do not seem to be any viable characterizations of the belief-justifying propositional contents of perceptions. An alternative is to model perceptual representations as marks in a perceptual similarity space. A mapping can be defined between points in perceptual (...) similarity space and points in an objective quality space. The correctness of perceptual representation can then be defined as a kind of accuracy of mapping rather than as the truth of a proposition. The phenomenon of seeing-as can be accounted for as a matter of the location of marks in perceptual similarity space relative to other marks in perceptual similarity space. Perceptual representations, on this account, will not justify beliefs, but they may nonetheless guide judgment. (shrink)
In nearly forty years’ of work, Simon Blackburn has done more than anyone to expand our imaginations about the aspirations for broadly projectivist/expressivist theorizing in all areas of philosophy. I know that I am far from alone in that his work has often been a source of both inspiration and provocation for my own work. It might be tempting, in a volume of critical essays such as this, to pay tribute to Blackburn’s special talent for destructive polemic, by seeking to (...) take down that by which I’ve been most provoked over the years. But Blackburn’s biting wit has both more wit and more bite than I could hope to emulate. So instead I’ll try to emulate here what I’ve admired the most about Blackburn – the constructive vein of much of his work. (shrink)
This paper is chiefly aimed at individuating some deep, but as yet almost unnoticed, similarities between Aristotle's syllogistic and the Stoic doctrine of conditionals, notably between Aristotle's metasyllogistic equimodality condition (as stated at APr. I 24, 41b27–31) and truth-conditions for third type (Chrysippean) conditionals (as they can be inferred from, say, S.E. P. II 111 and 189). In fact, as is shown in §1, Aristotle's condition amounts to introducing in his (propositional) metasyllogistic a non-truthfunctional implicational arrow '', the truth-conditions (...) of which turn out to be logically equivalent to truth-conditions of third type conditionals, according to which only the impossible (and not the possible) follows from the impossible. Moreover, Aristotle is given precisely this non-Scotian conditional logic in two so far overlooked passages of (Latin and Hebraic translations of) Themistius' Paraphrasis of De Caelo (CAG V 4, 71.8–13 and 47.8–10 Landauer). Some further consequences of Aristotle's equimodality condition on his logic, and notably on his syllogistic (no <span class='Hi'>matter</span> whether modal or not), are pointed out and discussed at length. A (possibly Chrysippean) extension of Aristotle's condition is also discussed, along with a full characterization of truth-conditions of fourth type conditionals. (shrink)
Tad Brennan explains how to live the Stoic life--and why we might want to. Stoicism has been one of the main currents of thought in Western civilization for two thousand years: Brennan offers a fascinating guide through the ethical ideas of the original Stoic philosophers, and shows how valuable these ideas remain today, both intellectually and in practice. He writes in a lively informal style which will bring Stoicism to life for readers who are new to ancient philosophy. (...) The Stoic Life will also be of great interest to philosophers and classicists seeking a full understanding of the intellectual legacy of the Stoics. (shrink)
The paper argues that philosophers commonly misidentify the substitutivity principle involved in Russell’s puzzle about substitutivity in “On Denoting” (the so-called "George IV puzzle"). This matters because when that principle is properly identified the puzzle becomes considerably sharper and more interesting than it is often taken to be. This article describes both the puzzle itself and Russell's solution to it, which involves resources beyond the theory of descriptions. It then explores the epistemological and metaphysical consequences of that solution. One such (...) consequence, it argues, is that Russell must abandon his commitment to propositions. (shrink)
Bobzien presents the definitive study of one of the most interesting intellectual legacies of the ancient Greeks: the Stoic theory of causal determinism. She explains what it was, how the Stoics justified it, and how it relates to their views on possibility, action, freedom, moral responsibility, moral character, fatalism, logical determinism and many other topics. She demonstrates the considerable philosophical richness and power that these ideas retain today.
Recent work in philosophy of language has raised significant problems for the traditional theory of propositions, engendering serious skepticism about its general workability. These problems are, I believe, tied to fundamental misconceptions about how the theory should be developed. The goal of this paper is to show how to develop the traditional theory in a way which solves the problems and puts this skepticism to rest. The problems fall into two groups. The first has to do with reductionism, specifically (...) attempts to reduce propositions to extensional entities-either extensional functions or sets. The second group concerns problems of fine grained content-both traditional 'Cicero'/'Tully' puzzles and recent variations on them which confront scientific essentialism. After characterizing the problems, I outline a non-reductionist approach-the algebraic approach-which avoids the problems associated with reductionism. I then go on to show how the theory can incorporate non-Platonic (as well as Platonic) modes of presentation. When these are implemented nondescriptively, they yield the sort of fine-grained distinctions which have been eluding us. The paper closes by applying the theory to a cluster of remaining puzzles, including a pair of new puzzles facing scientific essentialism. (shrink)
This is part two of a complete exposition of Logic, in which there is a radically new synthesis of Aristotelian-Scholastic Logic with modern Logic. Part II is the presentation of the theory of propositions. Simple, composite, atomic, compound, modal, and tensed propositions are all examined. Valid consequences and propositional logical identities are rigorously proven. Modal logic is rigorously defined and proven. This is the first work of Logic known to unite Aristotelian logic and modern logic using scholastic logic (...) as the instrument. (shrink)
Draft for Martinich and Hoekstra (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Hobbes. -/- Language was central to Hobbes's understanding of human beings and their mental abilities, and criticism of other philosophers' uses of language became a favorite critical tool for him. This paper connects Hobbes's theories about language to his criticisms of others' language, examining Hobbes's theories of propositions and truth, and how they relate to his claims that various sorts of proposition are absurd. It considers whether Hobbes in fact means (...) anything more by 'absurd' than 'false'. And it pays particular attention to Hobbes's categorization of causes of absurdity and of types of incoherent proposition, arguing that Hobbes's approach is only loosely related to later discussions of category mistakes. (shrink)
This paper develops a novel version of anti-platonism, called semantic fictionalism. The view is a response to the platonist argument that we need to countenance propositions to account for the truth of sentences containing `that'-clause singular terms, e.g., sentences of the form `x believes that p' and `σ means that p'. Briefly, the view is that (a) platonists are right that `that'-clauses purport to refer to propositions, but (b) there are no such things as propositions, and hence, (...) (c) `that'-clause-containing sentences of the above sort are not true-they are useful fictions. Semantic fictionalism is an extension of Hartry Field's mathematical fictionalism, but my defense of the view is not analogous to his. One of the many virtues of my defense is its generality: it explains how we can adopt a fictionalist stance towards all abstract singular terms, e.g., mathematical singular terms and `that'-clauses. (shrink)
This book collects a series of important new studies on one of the richest and most influential intellectual traditions of antiquity. Leading scholars combine careful analytical attention to the original texts with historical sensitivity and philosophical acuity to point the way to a better understanding of Stoic ethics, political theory, logic, and science.
Parts I and II of 'Conflicting Appearances, Necessity and the Irreducibility of Propositions about Colours' review the argument from 'conflicting appearances' for the view that nothing has any one colour. I take further a well-known criticism of the argument made by Austin and Burnyeat. In Part III I undertake the task of positive construction, offering a theory of what it is that all things coloured a particular colour have in common. I end, in Part IV, by arguing that the (...) resulting 'colour phenomenalism', rather than physicalism, is required to give a satisfactory account of the necessity of Wittgenstein's 'puzzle propositions' about colour. (shrink)
This volume examines the influence that Epicureanism and Stoicism, two philosophies of nature and human nature articulated during classical times, exerted on the development of European thought to the Enlightenment. Although the influence of these philosophies has often been noted in certain areas, such as the influence of Stoicism on the development of Christian thought and the influence of Epicureanism on modern materialism, the chapters in this volume forward a new awareness of the degree to which these philosophies and their (...) continued interaction informed European intellectual life well into early modern times. The influence of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophies in the areas of literature, philosophy, theology, and science are considered. Many thinkers continue to perceive these philosophies as significant alternatives for understanding the human and natural worlds. Having become incorporated into the canon of philosophical alternatives, Epicureanism and Stoicism continued to exert identifiable influences on scientific and philosphical thought at least until the middle of the eighteenth century. (shrink)
Zeno's so-called proofs of divine existence -- Zeno and the traditional gods: a serious problem -- Cleanthes' proofs -- Cleanthes and the traditional gods -- Chrysippus' contribution -- Chrysippus and the traditional gods -- Other Stoic proofs -- Other (Stoic?) arguments in Sextus -- Polemics against the arguments pro the existence of God(s) -- Abolishing the gods leads to odd consequence: the atopical arguments pro the existence of the gods -- The counter-arguments -- Carneades and the data of (...) Sextus and Cicero -- The sorites arguments as a weapon against the traditional gods -- Epilogue -- Appendix I. Cleanthes' humn on Zeus: a running commentary -- Appendix II. Where is God? -- Appendix III. Alexinus' Parabolai. (shrink)
The Stoic Idea of the City offers the first systematic analysis of the Stoic school, concentrating on Zeno's Republic . Renowned classical scholar Malcolm Schofield brings together scattered and underused textual evidence, examining the Stoic ideals that initiated the natural law tradition of Western political thought. A new foreword by Martha Nussbaum and a new epilogue written by the author further secure this text as the standard work on Presocratic Stoics. "The account emerges from a jigsaw-puzzle of (...) items from a wide range of authorities, painstakingly pieced together and then annotated in a series of appendixes, the whole executed with fine scholarship, clarity, and good humor."-- Times Literary Supplement. (shrink)
Originally motivated by a sophism, Pardo's discussion about the unity of mental propositions allows him to elaborate on his ideas about the nature of propositions. His option for a non-composite character of mental propositions is grounded in an original view about syncategorems: propositions have a syncategorematic signification, which allows them to signify aliquid aliqualiter, just by virtue of the mental copula, without the need of any added categorematic element. Pardo's general claim about the simplicity of mental (...)propositions is developed into several specific thesis about mental propositions: a) it is not judgement which gives its unity to mental propositions, but judicative acts always follow some previous apprehensive act that is simple in its own right; b) this simplicity is compatible with a certain kind of complexity, that can be explained in terms of the "causal history" of the acts of knowing; c) traditional conceptions about subject and predicate must be recast, while keeping their usual explicative power concerning logical properties; d) of course, the traditional conception about the copula has been modified, giving rise to a fully innovative conception of the nature of mental propositions. Nevertheless, this innovative conception of mental language seems still infected by certain "common sense" prejudices, which lead Pardo to propose also a provocative conception of vocal language, which I consider unnecessary. (shrink)
Dewey and Russell's debate over the status of logic in the twentieth-century is, by now, well-trodden ground for scholarly inquiry. However, Dewey's novel theory of propositions, first articulated in his 1938 Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, has received comparatively less attention than the debate that touched upon it. The paucity of interest among philosophers of language is probably due to a variety of reasons, such as the theory's unorthodox character and, what at least appears to be, its naive simplicity (...) when compared to other more common (syntactic and pragmatic) theories of propositions. In this paper, I would like to examine the three most extensive treatments, one by the late H.S. Thayer, another by Tom Burke, and the most recent exposition by Larry Hickman, with the intention of reviving scholarly interest in Dewey's theory of propositional form. Another objective of the present project is to situate Dewey's theory relative to more contemporary theories and debates about propositional form in the philosophy of language literature. (shrink)
Introduction -- Stoic ethics and rhetoric -- Eighteenth-century common sense and sensus communis -- Taste and sensus communis -- Propriety, sympathy, and style fusing individual and social -- Victorian language theories and the decline of sensus communis.
Can we find propositions that cannot rationally be denied in any possible world without assuming the existence of that same proposition, and so involving ourselves in a contradiction? In other words, can we find transworld propositions needing no further foundation or justification? Basically, three differing positions can be imagined: firstly, a relativist position, according to which ultimately founded propositions are impossible; secondly, a meta-relativist position, according to which ultimately founded propositions are possible but unnecessary; and thirdly, (...) an absolute position, according to which such propositions are necessary. In this short essay I show that under the premise of modal logic S5 with constant domain there are ultimately founded propositions and that their existence is even necessary, and I will give some reasons for the superiority of S5 over other logics. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the analogical argument that the use that is made of propositions in folk psychology in the characterisation of propositional attitudes is no more puzzling than the use that is made of numbers in the physical sciences in the measurement of physical properties. It has been argued that the result of this analogy is that there is no need to postulate the existence of sentences in a language of thought which underpin the propositional characterisation of (...) propositional attitudes in order to provide a naturalistic account of their use. I argue that a closer examination of the analogy implies rather than avoids the existence of structured representations constituting a language of thought, and thus that it should be abandoned by those who wish to avoid the postulation of such internal representations. (shrink)
While few soldiers may have read the works of Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius, it is undoubtedly true that the ancient philosophy known as Stoicism guides the actions of many in the military. Soldiers and seamen learn early in their training "to suck it up," to endure, to put aside their feelings and to get on with the mission. Stoic Warriors is the first book to delve deeply into the ancient legacy of this relationship, exploring what the Stoic philosophy (...) actually is, the role it plays in the character of the military (both ancient and modern), and its powerful value as a philosophy of life. Marshalling anecdotes from military history--ranging from ancient Greek wars to World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq--Nancy Sherman illuminates the military mind and uses it as a window on the virtues of the Stoic philosophy, which are far richer and more interesting than our popularized notions. Sherman--a respected philosopher who taught at the US Naval Academy--explores the deep, lasting value that Stoicism can yield, in issues of military leadership and character; in the Stoic conception of anger and its control (does a warrior need anger to go to battle?); and in Stoic thinking about fear and resilience, grief and mourning, and the value of camaraderie and brotherhood. Sherman concludes by recommending a moderate Stoicism, where the task for the individual, both civilian and military, youth and adult, is to temper control with forgiveness, and warrior drive and achievement with humility and humor. Here then is a perceptive investigation of what makes Stoicism so compelling not only as a guiding principle for the military, but as a philosophy for anyone facing the hardships of life. (shrink)
The paradox of propositiOns, presented in Appenclix B of Russell's The Principies of Mathernatics (1903), is usually taken as Russell's principal motive, at the time, for moving from a simple to a ramified theory of types. I argue that this view is mistaken. A closer study of Russell's correspondence with Frege reveals that Russell carne to adopt a very different resolution of the paradox, calling into question not the simplicity of his early type theory but the simplicity of his (...) early theory of propositions. (shrink)
Introduction -- A religious world-view -- Stoic corporealism -- Stoic theology -- Two pictures of fate -- Virtue and the virtues -- Definitions of virtue -- Chrysippus : characterisation of virtue as perfect state -- Virtue as consistent character -- The virtues as epistmai -- The virtues, different yet inseparable -- The difference between the virtues -- The inseparability of the virtues -- A catalogue of virtues -- Ethical virtues additional (generic) virtues -- The openness of Chrysippus catalogue (...) of virtues -- Becoming virtuous -- Vice and the attainability of virtue -- Initiation -- Virtue and happiness -- Practices of virtue -- Law and rules -- Law -- Rules and Kathkonta -- Stoic practical reasoning -- The single Kathkon and the versatility of stoic prescriptions. (shrink)
Literature on the Stoa has recently concentrated on historical accounts of the development of the school and on Stoicism as a social movement. Professor Rist’s approach is to examine in detail a series of philosophical problems discussed by leading members of the Stoic school. He is not concerned with social history or with the influence of Stoicism on popular beliefs in the Ancient world, but with such questions as the relation between Stoicism and the thought of Aristotle, the meaning (...) and purpose of such Stoic paradoxes as, ‘all sins are equal’, and the philosophical interrelation of Stoic physics and ethics. There are chapters on aspects of Stoic logic and on the thought of particular thinkers such as Panaetius and Posidonius, but ethical problems occupy the centre of the stage. (shrink)
The concept of a proposition is important in several areas of philosophy and central to the philosophy of language. This collection of readings investigates many different philosophical issues concerning the nature of propositions and the ways they have been regarded through the years. Reflecting both the history of the topic and the range of contemporary views, the book includes articles from Bertrand Russell, Gottlob Frege, the Russell-Frege Correspondence, Alonzo Church, David Kaplan, John Perry, Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, Mark Richard, (...) Scott Soames, and Nathan Salmon. (shrink)
This new translation of Epictetus' Handbook brings his ancient teachings to those who wish to live the philosophic life by finding a way to live happily in the world without being overwhelmed by it. This modern English translation of the complete Handbook is supported by the first thorough commentary since that of Simplicius, 1500 years ago, along with a detailed introduction, extensive glossary, index of key terms, and helpful tables that clarify Stoic ethical doctrines as a glance. Accompanying the (...) Handbook is the Tablet of Cebes , a curious and engaging text from an unknown author. In complete contrast to the Handbook 's more conventional philosophical presentation, the Tablet is an allegory that shows progress to philosophical wisdom as a journey through a landscape inhabited by personifications of Happiness, Fortune, the Virtues and Vices. (shrink)
Propositions, the abstract, truth-bearing contents of sentences and beliefs, continue to be the focus of healthy debates in philosophy of language and metaphysics. This article is a critical survey of work on propositions since the mid-90s, with an emphasis on newer work from the past decade. Topics to be covered include a substitution puzzle about propositional designators, two recent arguments against propositions, and two new theories about the nature of propositions.
When I say ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’, I seem to express a proposition. And when I say ‘Joan believes that Hesperus is Phosphorus’, I seem to ascribe to Joan an attitude to the same proposition. But what are propositions? And what is involved in ascribing propositional attitudes?
A singular thought about an object o is one that is directly about o in a characteristic way—grasp of that thought requires having some special epistemic relation to the object o, and the thought is ontologically dependent on o. One account of the nature of singular thought exploits a Russellian Structured Account of Propositions, according to which contents are represented by means of structured n-tuples of objects, properties, and functions. A proposition is singular, according to this framework, if and (...) only if it contains an object as a constituent. One advantage of the framework of Russellian Structured propositions is that it promises to provide a metaphysical basis for the notion of a singular thought about an object, grounding it in terms of constituency. In this paper, we argue that the attempt to ground the peculiar features of singular thoughts in terms of metaphysical constituency fails, and draw some consequences of our discussion for other debates. (shrink)
Accounts of propositions as sets of possible worlds have been criticized for conflating distinct impossible propositions. In response to this problem, some have proposed to introduce impossible worlds to represent distinct impossibilities, endorsing the thesis that impossible worlds must be of the same kind; this has been called the parity thesis. I show that this thesis faces problems, and propose a hybrid account which rejects it: possible worlds are taken as concrete Lewisian worlds, and impossibilities are represented as (...) set-theoretic constructions out of them. This hybrid account (1) distinguishes many intuitively distinct impossible propositions; (2) identifies impossible propositions with extensional constructions; (3) avoids resorting to primitive modality, at least so far as Lewisian modal realism does. (shrink)
believe, or know something to that which they assert believe, or know. A2. The things asserted, believed, and known are bearers of truth and falsity. A3. Propositions -- the things satisfying A1 and A2 -- are expressed by sentences. The..
This is an essay in compositional semantics: the project of understanding how the meanings of sentences depend systematically on the meanings of their parts, and the way those meanings are combined. One way to model this process is to adapt tools from the study of modal or other intensional logics (see eg (Montague, 2002), (Gamut, 1991), (von Fintel and Heim, 2007)), and that’s the method I’ll be pursuing here. My particular task in this essay is to use data about sentences (...) with embedded clauses to provide evidence for theories of what those clauses denote. Call whatever clauses denote, according to a particular theory, that theory’s ‘propositions’; then this essay tries to adduce some evidence about what propositions are like. Here’s the plan: in §1, I’ll discuss a traditional idea—that propositions are sets of possible worlds—and point out some familiar problems with such an approach. In §2, I briefly outline two possible improvements on possible-worlds propositions that solve these familiar problems—circumstantialism and structuralism. The remainder of the paper comprises arguments against structuralism and in favor of (a certain form of) circumstantialism: in §3 I present arguments against structuralism, and in §4, I consider structuralist responses to these arguments, as well as an influential argument against circumstantialism. If these arguments are correct, then some startling conclusions follow—in particular, that the negation of classical logic, whatever its other virtues, cannot provide a correct semantics for negation in natural language. Two key pieces of notational stuff: I use boldface type for quotation (cuts down on quotes everywhere), and double brackets to talk about denotations of linguistic items. So, if we think names denote their bearers, then Mary = Mary. Here we go! 1 1 Problems with the possible-worlds approach.. (shrink)
In recent years a number of authors sympathetic to Referentialistaccounts of proper names have argued that utterances containingempty names express `gappy,' or incomplete, propositions. In this paper I want to take issue with this suggestion.In particular, I argue versions of this approach developedby David Braun, Nathan Salmon, Ken Taylor, and by Fred Adams,Gary Fuller, and Robert Stecker.
Kaplan (drawing on Montague and Prior, inter alia) made explicit the idea of world and time neutral propositions, which bear truth values only relative to world and time parameters. There was then a debate over the role of time. Temporalists sided with Kaplan in maintaining time neutral propositions with time relative truth values, while eternalists claimed that all propositions specify the needed time information and so bear the same truth value at all times. But there never was (...) much of a parallel debate over the role of worlds. Let contingentism be the view (parallel to temporalism) that sides with Kaplan in maintaining world neutral propositions with world relative truth values, and let necessitarianism be the view (parallel to eternalism) that propositions specify the needed world information and so bear the same truth value at all worlds. This is the story of how the debate between the contingentists and the necessitarians might begin. (shrink)
Although there is a vast literature on whether propositional attitudes are relations to propositions, a crucial question that ought to lie at the heart of this debate is not often enough seriously addressed. This is the question of the contribution propositions make to the ways in which we benefit from having our propositional-attitude concepts, if those concepts are concepts of relations to propositions. Unless propositions can be shown to confer a benefit that no non-propositions could (...) provide, we should probably doubt whether propositional attitudes really are relations to propositions. I believe that propositional attitudes are relations to propositions and that the role played by them in our conceptual economy cannot be played by things of any other kind, and in this paper I try to say why. This paper, in other words, offers my answer to the question posed by my title. (shrink)
Insensitive Semantics is mainly a protracted assault on semantic Contextualism, both moderate and radical. Cappelen and Lepore argue that Moderate Contextualism leads inevitably, like marijuana to heroin or masturbation to blindness, to Radical Contextualism and in turn that Radical Contextualism is misguided. Assuming that the only alternative to Contextualism is their Semantic Minimalism, they think they’ve given an indirect argument for it. But they overlook a third view, one that splits the difference between the other two. Like Contextualism it rejects (...) Propositionalism, the conservative dogma that every indexicalfree declarative sentence expresses a proposition. Unlike Contextualism, it does not invoke context to fill semantic gaps and, indeed, denies that filling those gaps is a semantic matter. In rejecting Propositionalism, it is more radical, indeed, more minimalist than Cappelen and Lepore’s brand of Semantic Minimalism. It does not imagine that sentences that intuitively seem not to express propositions at least express “minimal propositions.” Radical Semantic Minimalism, or simply Radicalism, says that the sentences in question are semantically incomplete – their semantic contents are not propositions but merely “propositional radicals.”. (shrink)
Some of the most interesting recent work in philosophy of language and metaphysics is focused on questions about propositions, the abstract, truth-bearing contents of sentences and beliefs. The aim of this guide is to give instructors and students a road map for some significant work on propositions since the mid-1990s. This work falls roughly into two areas: challenges to the existence of propositions and theories about the nature and structure of propositions. The former includes both a (...) widely discussed puzzle about propositional designators as well as direct and indirect arguments against the existence of propositions. The latter is dominated by what is currently the central debate about the metaphysics of propositions, i.e. whether they are structured, composite entities or unstructured ontological simples. This issue has eclipsed older debates about whether propositions can be identified with sets of possible worlds or other kinds of sentence intensions. Author Recommends 1. Soames, Scott. 'Direct Reference, Propositional Attitudes, and Semantic Content.' Philosophical Topics 15 (1987): 47–87. Reprinted in Propositions and Attitudes . Eds. N. Salmon and S. Soames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. 197–239. Essential groundwork for more recent work on propositions. Soames gives a careful and exacting presentation of the case against identifying propositions with sets of possible worlds or other truth-supporting circumstances. Also contains a detailed statement of the Russellian conception of propositions on which propositions are ordered sets of objects, properties and relations. 2. King, Jeffrey. 'Designating Propositions.' The Philosophical Review 111 (2002): 341–71. Sometimes substituting a definite description for a corresponding 'that'-clause can lead to bizarre changes in truth-conditions: compare 'Bill fears that Hillary will be president' with 'Bill fears the proposition that Hillary will be president'. This puzzle about propositional designators threatens the relational analysis of propositional attitude reports, the view that 'believes' expresses a relation to the proposition designated by its 'that'-clause, and thereby poses an indirect threat to the existence of propositions. King's solution posits an ambiguity in verbs like 'fear' that embed both 'that'-clauses and definite descriptions. 3. Jubien, Michael. 'Propositions and the Objects of Thought.' Philosophical Studies 104 (2001): 47–62. A direct attack on the existence of propositions. Jubien deploys an analogue of the problem that Paul Benacerraf raised for set-theoretical reductions of numbers against metaphysical reductions of propositions. Just as numbers can be reduced to sets in many different ways, any reduction of propositions brings with it equally good variants, thus making any such reduction arbitrary and unmotivated. The only alternative is to treat propositions as abstract metaphysical primitives. As Jubien argues, however, abstract primitive entities are incapable of doing what propositions must do, i.e. represent objects and states of affairs on their own, without the input of thinking subjects. The upshot is the propositions cannot be reduced and they cannot be primitive, and so they must not exist. 4. Hanks, Peter. 'How Wittgenstein Defeated Russell's Multiple Relation Theory of Judgment.' Synthese 154 (2007): 121–46. Scepticism about propositions has recently led some philosophers, Jubien included, to resuscitate Russell's multiple relation theory of judgment, the idea that judgment is a many-place relation to objects, properties and relations. This paper explains why Russell himself abandoned that theory, and why the theory is still refuted by an objection due to Wittgenstein. 5. Hofweber, Thomas. 'Inexpressible Properties and Propositions.' Oxford Studies in Metaphysics . 2 vols. Ed. D. Zimmerman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 155–206. An indirect attack on the existence of propositions. Hofweber argues that sentences like 'Bill believes something that Hillary asserted' do not commit us to the existence of propositions. His view is that propositional quantification is an instance of what he calls 'internal' or 'inferential role' quantification, a kind of quantification that carries no ontological implications. 6. Schiffer, Stephen. The Things We Mean . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. esp. chs 1–2. Schiffer defends his theory of pleonastic propositions, on which propositions are unstructured, have no parts, and are very finely grained. 7. Bealer, George. 'Propositions.' Mind 107 (1998): 1–32. Bealer defends his algebraic theory of propositions, which, like Schiffer's pleonastic account, treats propositions as unstructured metaphysical simples. 8. King, Jeffrey. The Nature of and Structure of Content . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. The best developed current theory of the structure in structured propositions. King identifies propositions with certain kinds of facts in which objects, properties and relations are bound together by amalgams of syntactic and semantic relations. 9. Hanks, Peter. 'Recent Work on Propositions.' Philosophy Compass 4 (2009): 1–18. A survey of work on propositions since the mid-1990s that complements this teaching and learning guide. Contains responses to Jubien's and Hofweber's arguments against propositions and critical discussions of Schiffer's pleonastic propositions and King's theory of propositional structure. Online Resources 1. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions/ Propositions (Matthew McGrath) 2. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions-structured/ Structured Propositions (Jeffrey King) 3. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions-singular/ Singular Propositions (Greg Fitch) Sample Partial Syllabus The following partial syllabus can be used as a unit on recent work on propositions in graduate level courses in philosophy of language or metaphysics. Week 1: A Substitution Puzzle About Propositional Designators King, Jeffrey. 'Designating Propositions'. Moltmann, Friederike. 'Propositional Attitudes Without Propositions.' Synthese 135 (2003): 77–118. Week 2: The Benacerraf Problem and Propositional Representation Benacerraf, Paul. 'What Numbers Could Not Be.' Philosophical Review 74 (1965): 47–73. Jubien, Michael. 'Propositions and the Objects of Thought.' Week 3: Propositional Quantification Hofweber, Thomas. 'Inexpressible Properties and Propositions'. Hofweber, Thomas. 'A Puzzle about Ontology.' Noûs 39 (2005): 256–83. Week 4: Schiffer on Pleonastic Propositions Schiffer, Stephen. 'Language-Created Language-Independent Entities.' Philosophical Topics 24 (1996): 149–67. Schiffer, Stephen. The Things We Mean , chs 1–2. Week 5: King on Structured Propositions King, Jeffrey. 'Structured Propositions and Complex Predicates.' Noûs , 29 (1995): 516–35. King, Jeffrey. The Nature and Structure of Content , chs 1–3. Focus Questions 1. Why does identifying propositions with sentence intensions, e.g. sets of possible worlds, 'require the attitudes to have a particular sort of closure under logical consequence, which they clearly don't have' (Mark Richard)? 2. How does the difference between (a) and (b) pose a threat to the existence of propositions? (a) Bill fears that Hillary will be president. (b) Bill fears the proposition that Hillary will be president. 3. What is the Benacerraf problem for metaphysical reductions of propositions? 4. Why must a proposition represent 'on its own cuff' (Michael Jubien)? Why is this a problem for the view that propositions are primitive abstract entities? 5. What does it mean to say that propositions are structured ? Give two different accounts of what propositional structure might be. (shrink)
I argue that there is a conflict between two positions defended by David Lewis: counterpart theory, and the identification of propositions with sets of possible worlds. There is no adequate answer to the question whether a world where Humphrey has one winning and one losing counterpart is or is not a member of the set that is the proposition that Humphrey wins. If one says it is, it will follow that it is possible for that proposition to be true (...) without Humphrey winning; if one says that it is not, it will follow that it is possible for Humphrey to win without that proposition being true. (shrink)
This essay argues the Stoics are rightly regarded as pantheists. Their view differs from many forms of pantheism by accepting the notion of a personal god who exercises divine providence. Moreover, Stoic pantheism is utterly inimical to a deep ecology ethic. I argue that these features are nonetheless consistent with the claim that they are pantheists. The essay also considers the arguments offered by the Stoics. They thought that their pantheistic conclusion was an extension of the best science of (...) their day. Some of their most interesting arguments are thusa posteriori. (shrink)
Belief in propositions no longer brings about the sorts of looks it did when Quine's affinity for desert landscapes held sway in the Anglo-American philosophical scene. People are doing work in the metaphysics of propositions, trying to figure out what sorts of creatures propositions are. In philosophers like Frege, Russell, and Moore we have strong shoulders upon which to stand. But, there is much more work that needs to be done. I will try to do a bit (...) of that work here. In the paper, I will probe the notion that propositions are structured entities, and that it is useful to think of their structure as resembling the structure of the sentences which express them. First, I will speak briefly to the issue of why one might find it rational to believe that propositions exist. In the second part of the paper, I will argue that we should think of propositions as having structure. In the last section, I will examine the nature of the structure of propositions. I will consider a recent account given by Jeffrey King of the nature of the relation that unifies constituents. I conclude by sketching my own view of the relation that holds between propositional constituents in virtue of which they compose a proposition. 1 I Why Believe in Propositions? Propositions are taken to be abstract entities that are a) the primary bearers of truth and falsity, b) the objects of our propositional attitudes, and c) the referents of "that-. (shrink)
This paper concerns itself with the relation between two important semantic notions: the traditional notion of proposition and a more recent notion of context as an information state. The notion of proposition has traditionally played an important role in the theory of meaning: propositions are entities that have independent truth conditions and act as the meaning of both independent and embedded sentences as well the objects of propositional attitudes such as assertion and belief.
The most common account of attitude reports is the relational analysis according towhich an attitude verb taking that-clause complements expresses a two-placerelation between agents and propositions and the that-clause acts as an expressionwhose function is to provide the propositional argument. I will argue that a closerexamination of a broader range of linguistic facts raises serious problems for thisanalysis and instead favours a Russellian `multiple relations analysis' (which hasgenerally been discarded because of its apparent obvious linguistic implausibility).The resulting account can (...) be given independent philosophical motivations within anintentionalist view of truth and predication. (shrink)
Everyone working on metaphysical questions about properties or propositions knows the reaction that many non-philosophers, even nonmetaphysicians, have to such questions. Even though they agree that Fido is a dog and thus has the property (or feature or characteristic) of being a dog, it seems weird, suspicious, or confused to them to now ask what that thing, the property of being a dog, is. The same reservations do not carry over to asking what this thing, Fido, is. There is (...) a substantial and legitimate project to find out more about Fido, but is there a similar substantial and legitimate project to find out more about the property of being a dog? Metaphysicians know that there is a straightforward way to motivate such a project, and much of the contemporary debate in the metaphysics of properties is in the ballpark of carrying it out. If we agree that Fido has the property of being a dog, then there is something that is a property and that Fido has. Thus we can ask about what this thing is that he has. How does it relate to Fido? Is it concrete or abstract? Is it fully present in each object that has it? And so on and so forth. Maybe the nonphilosophers are merely not used to asking such questions about unusual entities such as properties, but they are equally legitimate for them as they are for any other thing. However, even metaphysicians sometimes have the nagging feeling that something has gone wrong in the metaphysics of properties, and that a substantial metaphysical investigation into their.. (shrink)
Alberto Casullo ("Necessity, Certainty, and the A Priori", Canadian Journal of Philosophy 18, 1988) argues that arithmetical propositions could be disconfirmed by appeal to an invented scenario, wherein our standard counting procedures indicate that 2 + 2 != 4. Our best response to such a scenario would be, Casullo suggests, to accept the results of the counting procedures, and give up standard arithmetic. While Casullo's scenario avoids arguments against previous "disconfirming" scenarios, it founders on the assumption, common to scenario (...) and response, that arithmetic might be independent of standard counting procedures. Here I show, by attention to tallying as the simplest form of counting, that this assumption is incoherent: given standard counting procedures, then (on pain of irrationality) arithmetical theory follows. (shrink)
In this paper I argue indirectly for Frege's semantics, in particular for his conception of propositions, by reviewing some difficulties faced by one of the main contemporary alternative approaches, i.e., the direct reference theory. While Frege's semantics can yield an explanation of cognitive value and belief-preservation, the alternative approach seems to run into trouble here. I shall also briefly consider the question of whether epistemic issues should be of any concern for semantics, i.e., whether the feature mentioned above should (...) really be regarded as an advantage of Frege's theory. (shrink)
This paper argues that understanding speech in terms of action requires dispensing with propositions. Austin's outline of speech act theory did not give any role to propositions, which were introduced into speech act theory later on, in order to cope with criticism leveled by Strawson and Searle at Austin's characterization of the locutionary act and his view of the truth/falsity assessment. The introduction of propositions had weakening effects on the claim that speech is action, foregrounding again the (...) received picture of linguistic communication. I show that, in order to make sense of Austin's characterization of the locutionary act, propositions are not needed and give some suggestions as to how one could give an account of the truth/falsity assessment, compatible with the claim that speech is action, without resorting to propositions. (shrink)
The possible-worlds analysis of propositions identifies a proposition with the set of possible worlds where it is true. This analysis has the hitherto unnoticed consequence that a proposition depends for its existence on the existence of every proposition that entails it. This peculiar consequence places the possible-worlds analysis in conflict with the conjunction of two compelling theses. One thesis is that a phrase of the form ‘the proposition that S’ is a rigid designator. The other thesis is that a (...) proposition which is directly about an object – a singular proposition – depends for its existence on the existence of the object. I defend these theses and conclude that the cost of the possible-worlds analysis is prohibitively high. (shrink)
In view of recent articles citing the Stoics as a defence or refutation of cosmopolitanism it is legitimate to ask whether the Stoics did in fact have an argument for cosmopolitanism which may be useful to contemporary political philosophers. I begin by discussing an interpretation of Stoic views on cosmopolitanism by Martha Nussbaum and A.A. Long and show that the arguments they attribute to the Stoics are not tenable in the light of present day philosophy. I then argue that (...) the Stoics did offer a very different argument for cosmopolitanism which is both more interesting and more plausible in that it draws on a conception of human nature similar to Aristotles and contemporary virtue ethics. Lastly I consider an objection made to their particular brand of cosmopolitanism by Martha Nussbaum, namely that a Stoic cosmopolitan life is devoid of personal affiliation and therefore unbearably lonely. I argue that this objection is in fact unfounded. (shrink)
Frege famously argued that truth is not a property or relation. In the “Notes on Logic” Wittgenstein emphasised the bi-polarity of propositions which he called their sense. He argued that “propositions by virtue of sense cannot have predicates or relations.” This led to his fundamental thought that the logical constants do not represent predicates or relations. The idea, however, has wider ramifications than that. It is not just that propositions cannot have relations to other propositions but (...) also that they cannot have relations to anything at all. The paper explores the consequences of this insight for the way in which we should read the Tractatus. In the “Notes on Logic” the insight led to Wittgenstein's emphasis on “facts” in any attempt to understand the nature of symbolism. This emphasis is continued in the Tractatus. It is central to his view that propositions are facts which picture facts which prevent us from construing such picturing as a relation between what pictures and what is pictured. It illuminates the importance of context principle with regard to the distinction between showing and saying to which Wittgenstein attached so much importance and it underlies the non-relational view of psychological propositions which he advocates. Finally, if propositions by virtue of sense cannot have predicates or relations the paradox at the end of a work which consist largely of propositions about propositions becomes intelligible. (shrink)
No semantic theory satisfying certain natural constraints can identify the semantic contents of sentences (the propositions they express), with sets of circumstances in which the sentences are true–no matter how fine-grained the circumstances are taken to be. An objection to the proof is shown to fail by virtue of conflating model-theoretic consequence between sentences with truth-conditional consequence between the semantic contents of sentences. The error underlines the impotence of distinguishing semantics, in the sense of a truth-based theory of logical (...) consequence, and semantics, in the sense of a theory of meaning. (shrink)
A first-person proposition is a proposition that only a single subject can assert or believe. When I assert ‘I am on fire’ I assert a first-person proposition that only I have access to, in the sense that no one else can assert or believe this proposition. This is in contrast to third-person propositions, which can be asserted or believed by anyone.
In the Euthydemus, Socrates and young Cleinias agree, "Not one of the other things is good or bad, but of these two, one—wisdom—is good, and the other—ignorance—is bad" (281e3-5).1 To some, this is the outrageous and characteristically Stoic claim that wisdom is the only good.
Most direct reference theorists about indexicals and proper names have adopted the thesis that singular propositions about physical objects are composed of physical objects and properties (and/or relations—I will use "properties" for brevity's sake).1 There have been a number of recent proponents of such a view, including Scott Soames, Nathan Salmon, John Perry, Howard Wettstein, and David Kaplan.2 Since Kaplan is the individual who (at least recently) is best known for holding such a view, let's call a proposition (...) that is composed of objects and properties a K-proposition. In this paper, I will attempt to show that (given some fairly plausible assumptions) a direct reference view about the content of proper names and indexicals leads very naturally to the position that all singular propositions about physical objects are K-propositions.3 Then, I will attempt to show that this view of propositions is false. I will spend the bulk of the paper on this latter task. My goal in the paper, then, is to show that adopting the direct reference thesis comes at a cost (or for those who thought it already came at a cost because of (alleged) problems the view has with problems such as opacity and the significance of some identity statements; it comes at even more of a cost). (shrink)
It seems that every singular proposition implies that the object it is singular with respect to exists. It also seems that some propositions are true with respect to possible worlds in which they do not exist. The puzzle is that it can be argued that there is contradiction between these two principles. In this paper, I explain the puzzle and consider some of the ways one might attempt to resolve it. The puzzle is important because it has implications concerning (...) the way we think about the relationship between a proposition and the claim that the proposition is true. (shrink)
Quine criticised the semantic notion of analyticity that is often attributed to Frege and Kant for presupposing an essentialist theory of meaning. In what follows I trace back the notion from Quine via Carnap to Frege and Kant, and eventually examine Kant's distinction between analytic and synthetic judgements in more detail. It turns out that the so called Frege-Kant-notion of analyticity can not be attributed to Kant. In contrast, Kant had a distinctly pragmatic notion of analytic judgements. According to him (...) analytic propositions elucidate certain presuppositions of our conceptual scheme, thereby serving the anti-metaphysical project of transcendental philosophy. (shrink)
If we agree with Michael Jubien that propositions do not exist, while accepting the existence of abstract sets in a realist mathematical ontology, then the combined effect of these ontological commitments has surprising implications for the metaphysics of modal logic, the ontology of logically possible worlds, and the controversy over modal realism versus actualism. Logically possible worlds as maximally consistent proposition sets exist if sets generally exist, but are equivalently expressed as maximally consistent conjunctions of the same propositions (...) in corresponding sets. A conjunction of propositions, even if infinite in extent, is nevertheless itself a proposition. If sets and hence proposition sets exist but propositions do not exist, then whether or not modal realism is true depends on which of two apparently equivalent methods of identifying, representing, or characterizing logically possible worlds we choose to adopt. I consider a number of reactions to the problem, concluding that the best solution may be to reject the conventional model set theoretical concept of logically possible worlds as maximally consistent proposition sets, and distinguishing between the actual world alone as maximally consistent and interpreting all nonactual merely logically possible worlds as submaximal. (shrink)
In Philosophy as a Way of Life, Pierre Hadot discusses the understanding of philosophy held by the Greco-Roman ancients. Philosophy was not understood only as an exegetical or analytical exercise, but as a spiritual practice - a way of life. Becoming a member of a philosophical school was tantamount to a religious conversion involving one's entire self. To make one's doctrines 'ready to hand' required a number of 'spiritual exercises' which, if regularly followed, were intended to evince such a transformation. (...) Hadot discusses the role of such exercises for (among others) Platonists, Epicureans, Christians, and Stoics. I propose that the Samurai should be added to such a consideration. Their respective exercises allowed the adherents genuinely to adopt their system of beliefs. Many beliefs held by Stoics and Samurai are surprisingly similar. After having discussed some of these similarities, the most striking similarity will be revealed: the role of spiritual exercises in preparing both the Stoic and the Samurai for death. (shrink)
It is plausible that the universe exists: a thing such that absolutely everything is a part of it. It is also plausible that singular, structured propositions exist: propositions that literally have individuals as parts. Furthermore, it is plausible that for each thing, there is a singular, structured proposition that has it as a part. Finally, it is plausible that parthood is a partial ordering: reflexive, transitive, and anti-symmetric. These plausible claims cannot all be correct. We canvass some costs (...) of denying each claim and conclude that parthood is not a partial ordering. Provided that the relevant entities exist, parthood is not anti-symmetric and proper parthood is neither asymmetric nor transitive. (shrink)