About this topic
Summary It seems that it's possible for Mary to utter the sentence ‘Whales are fish’ and thereby say that whales are fish. John might believe what Mary said, or not. If John and Mary both believe it then there is something that they both believe. That thing is false, however. That Mary can use that sentence to say that might be partly explained by the fact that ‘Whales are fish’ means that whales are fish. (The fact that Mary can use that sentence to convey that John doesn’t know much about Whales by adopting a certain tone of voice might also be partly explained by that meaning fact.) The preceding claims are not self-evident, but they are attractive. Taken at face value they suggest that there is a class of objects which can be believed, said, take truth values and serve as meanings. The standard name for such things is ‘propositions’. There are several debates at the intersection of philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and metaphysics about the nature of these entities and the roles they should play in our philosophical theories.
Key works There have been several important books on the nature of propositions in recent years: Stalnaker 1984; Schiffer 2003; King 2007Soames 2010; Moltmann 2013King et al 2014; Hanks 2015; Merricks 2015; Soames 2015.
Introductions Hanks 2009Stevens 2008; King 2017
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1165 found
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Propositions as Acts
  1. Reference, Predication, Judgment, and Their Relations.Indrek Reiland - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Over the course of the past ten-plus years, Peter Hanks and Scott Soames have developed detailed versions of Act-Based views of propositions which operate with the notions of reference to objects, indicating properties, predication, and judgment (or entertaining). In this paper I discuss certain foundational aspects of the Act-Based approach having to do with the relations between these notions. In particular, I argue for the following three points. First, that the approach needs both an atomistically understood thin notion of reference, (...)
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  2. Problems for Russellian Act-Type Theories.Arvid Båve - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    I here discuss two problems facing Russellian act-type theories of propositions, and argue that Fregean act-type theories are better equipped to deal with them. The first relates to complex singular terms like '2+2', which turn out not to pose any special problem for Fregeans at all, whereas Soames' theory currently has no satisfactory way of dealing with them (particularly, with such "mixed" propositions as the proposition that 2+2 is greater than 3). Admittedly, one possibility stands out as the most promising (...)
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  3. Three Accounts of Propositional Relation Reports.Wayne Davis - 2018 - Intercultural Pragmatics 15 (2).
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  4. First Among Equals: Co-Hyperintensionality for Structured Propositions.Bjørn Jespersen - forthcoming - Synthese:1-15.
    Theories of structured meanings are designed to generate fine-grained meanings, but they are also liable to overgenerate structures, thus drawing structural distinctions without a semantic difference. I recommend the proliferation of very fine-grained structures, so that we are able to draw any semantic distinctions we think we might need. But, in order to contain overgeneration, I argue we should insert some degree of individuation between logical equivalence and structural identity based on structural isomorphism. The idea amounts to forming an equivalence (...)
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  5. Pretense, Cancellation, and the Act Theory of Propositions.Manuel García-Carpintero - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Several philosophers advance substantive theories of propositions, to deal with several issues they raise in connection with a concern with a long pedigree in philosophy, the problem of the unity of propositions. The qualification ‘substantive’ is meant to contrast with ‘minimal’ or ‘deflationary’ – roughly, views that reject that propositions have a hidden nature, worth investigating. Substantive views appear to create spurious problems by characterizing propositions in ways that make them unfit to perform their theoretical jobs. I will present in (...)
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  6. Propositions as Objects of the Attitudes.Ray Buchanan & Alex Grzankowski - forthcoming - In Chris Tillman & Adam Murray (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Propositions. Routledge.
    Propositions are the things we believe, intend, desire, and so on, but discussions are often less precise than they could be and an important driver of this deficiency has been a focus on the objects but a neglect of the attitudinal relations we bear to them. In what follows, we will offer some thoughts on what it means for a proposition to be the object of an attitude and we will argue that an important part of the story lies with (...)
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  7. Content Pluralism.Alex Grzankowski & Ray Buchanan - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    How fine-grained are the contents of our beliefs and other cognitive attitudes? Are the contents of our beliefs individuated solely in terms of the objects, properties, and relations that figure in their truth conditions, or rather in terms of our concepts, or modes of presentation of those objects, properties, and relations? So-called Millians famously maintain the former whereas their Fregean rivals hold the latter. Though much ink was spilled on the question of grain, relatively little was ever achieved by way (...)
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  8. Cognitive Acts and the Unity of the Proposition.Jeff Speaks - 2020 - Tandf: Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (4):646-660.
    In this paper I do four things. (1) I explain one clear thing that ‘the problem of the unity of the proposition’ might mean. (2) I lay out a few different versions of the theory of propositions as cognitive acts, and explain why this problem arises for the version of that theory which has been defended in different forms by Peter Hanks and Scott Soames. (3) I argue that the natural ways in which the act theorist might try to solve (...)
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  9. Embedding Speech-Act Propositions.Jeremy Schwartz & Christopher Hom - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    Hanks develops a theory of propositions as speech-act types. Because speech acts play a role in the contents themselves, the view overturns Frege’s force/content distinction, and as such, faces the challenge of explaining how propositions embed under logical operators like negation. The attempt to solve this problem has lead Hanks and his recent commentators to adopt theoretically exotic resources, none of which, we argue, is ultimately successful. The problem is that although there are three different ways of negating the sentence (...)
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  10. Iconic Propositions.Jesse J. Fitts - 2020 - Philosophia Scientiae 24:99-123.
    Je défends ici la nécessité, et ébauche une première version, d’une théorie iconique des propositions. Selon celle-ci, les propositions sont comme les objets de représentation, ou similaires à eux. Les propositions, suivant cette approche, sont des propriétés que l’esprit instancie lorsqu’il modélise le monde. Je connecte cette théorie aux récents développements de la littérature académique sur les propositions, ainsi qu’à une branche de recherches en sciences cognitives, qui explique certains types de représentations mentales en termes d’iconicité. I motivate the need (...)
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  11. Propositions as Structured Cognitive Event‐Types.Wayne A. Davis - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  12. Actions, Products, and Truth-Bearers: A Critique of Twardowskian Accounts.Silver Bronzo - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):297-312.
    Friederike Moltmann has recently proposed an account of truth-bearers that draws on Kazimierz Twardowski’s action/product distinction. Her account is meant to provide a third way between the dominant view of primary truth-bearers as mind-independent entities and the recently revived construal of them as mental or linguistic acts. This paper argues that there is no room for Twardowskian accounts because they are based on a notion of “nonenduring product” that defies comprehension, and no need for them because the linguistic data that (...)
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  13. Wollen und Wahrheit.Michael Schmitz - 2016 - In Neil Roughley & Julius Schälike (eds.), Wollen. Seine Bedeutung, seine Grenzen. Münster: Mentis. pp. 43-70.
    In diesem Aufsatz argumentiere ich, dass die Standardauffassung von Propositionen und propositionalen Einstellungen inadäquat ist, ein Artefakt der gegenwärtig herrschenden theorielastigen Auffassung von Intentionalität, Sprache und Rationalität, und skizziere eine alternative Auffassung. Im folgenden Abschnitt belege ich erst einmal die These der Theorielastigkeit anhand einiger Beispiele vor allem aus der gegenwärtigen analytischen Philosophie. Der dritte Abschnitt erklärt, wie diese Theorielastigkeit im Standardverständnis von Propositionen und propositionalen Einstellungen verkörpert ist. Im vierten Abschnitt argumentiere ich, dass dieses Standardverständnis der Proposition zwei unvereinbare (...)
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  14. Force, Content and the Varieties of Subject.Michael Schmitz - 2019 - Language and Communication 69:115-129.
    This paper argues that to account for group speech acts, we should adopt a representationalist account of mode / force. Individual and collective subjects do not only represent what they e.g. assert or order. By asserting or ordering they also indicate their theoretical or practical positions towards what they assert or order. The ‘Frege point’ cannot establish the received dichotomy of force and propositional content. On the contrary, only the representationalist account allows a satisfactory response to it. It also allows (...)
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  15. Propositional Content by Peter Hanks (Review). [REVIEW]Peter Pagin - 2019 - Language 95 (2):377-380.
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  16. Act-Based Conceptions of Propositional Content, Edited by Friederike Moltmann and Mark Textor. [REVIEW]Sébastien Richard - 2019 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 96 (4):639-645.
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  17. Attitudinal Objects.Friederike Moltmann - forthcoming - In Chris Tillman (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Propositions. Routledge.
    This paper defends the view that attitudinal objects such as claims, beliefs, judgments, and requests form an ontological category of its own sharply distinguished from that of events and states and that of propositions. Attitudinal objects play a central role in attitude reports and avoid the conceptual and empirical problems for propositions. Unlike the latter, attitudinal objects bear a particular connection to normativity. The paper will also discuss the syntactic basis of a semantics of attitude reports based on attitudinal objects.
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  18. Neutral Predication.Thomas Hodgson - 2019 - Erkenntnis:1-9.
    Hanks has defended a novel account of what propositions are. His key argument against Soames' rival view is that predication is not neutral. According to Hanks, predication is essentially committal. I show that Hanks' argument for this conclusion raises problems for his own account of questions and orders.
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  19. Expressivism and Cognitive Propositions.James L. D. Brown - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (3):371-387.
    Expressivists about normative thought and discourse traditionally deny that there are nondeflationary normative propositions. However, it has recently been suggested that expressivists might avoid a number of problems by providing a theory of normative propositions compatible with expressivism. This paper explores the prospects for developing an expressivist theory of propositions within the framework of cognitive act theories of propositions. First, I argue that the only extant expressivist theory of cognitive propositions—Michael Ridge's ‘ecumenical expressivist’ theory—fails to explain identity conditions for normative (...)
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  20. Acts of Desire.Henry Ian Schiller - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-18.
    Act-based theories of content hold that propositions are identical to acts of predication that we perform in thought and talk. To undergo an occurrent thought with a particular content just is to perform the act of predication that individuates that content. But identifying the content of a thought with the performance of an act of predication makes it difficult to explain the intentionality of bouletic mental activity, like wanting and desiring. In this paper, I argue that this difficulty is insurmountable: (...)
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  21. Propositional Complexity and the Frege–Geach Point.Silver Bronzo - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4):3099-3130.
    It is almost universally accepted that the Frege–Geach Point is necessary for explaining the inferential relations and compositional structure of truth-functionally complex propositions. I argue that this claim rests on a disputable view of propositional structure, which models truth-functionally complex propositions on atomic propositions. I propose an alternative view of propositional structure, based on a certain notion of simulation, which accounts for the relevant phenomena without accepting the Frege–Geach Point. The main contention is that truth-functionally complex propositions do not include (...)
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  22. Acts and Alternative Analyses.Arvid Båve - 2019 - Journal of Philosophy 116 (4):181–205.
    I show that the act-type theories of Soames and Hanks entail that every sentence with alternative analyses (including every atomic sentence with a polyadic predicate) is ambiguous, many of them massively so. I assume that act types directed toward distinct objects are themselves distinct, plus some standard semantic axioms, and infer that act-type theorists are committed to saying that ‘Mary loves John’ expresses both the act type of predicating [loving John] of Mary and that of predicating [being loved by Mary] (...)
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  23. Cognitive Propositions and Semantic Values.Wayne A. Davis - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (4):383-423.
    ABSTRACT In recent work, Scott Soames has declared that we need a new conception of propositions to overcome critical objections to traditional theories of semantics and propositional attitudes. Propositions must be cognitive to account for their inherent intentionality, structure, and epistemic accessibility, and to overcome Frege’s and Russell’s problems. I have previously worked out a foundational semantics in which cognitive propositions are what sentences express. My objective in this paper is to identify some of the limitations of Soames’s theory, and (...)
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  24. Predication and the Frege–Geach Problem.Indrek Reiland - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):141-159.
    Several philosophers have recently appealed to predication in developing their theories of cognitive representation and propositions. One central point of difference between them is whether they take predication to be forceful or neutral and whether they take the most basic cognitive representational act to be judging or entertaining. Both views are supported by powerful reasons and both face problems. Many think that predication must be forceful if it is to explain representation. However, the standard ways of implementing the idea give (...)
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  25. Rethinking Language, Mind, and Meaning, by Scott Soames: Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015, Pp. Ix + 241, US$35. [REVIEW]Wayne A. Davis - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (4):825-828.
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  26. Review of Peter Hanks, Propositional Content, Oxford University Press, 2015. [REVIEW]Andreas Stokke - 2016 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2.
  27. The Redundancy of the Act.John Collins - 2018 - Synthese 195 (8):3519-3545.
    The theory that structured propositions are complex act-types has been independently articulated by Peter Hanks and Scott Soames. The present paper argues that the role of the act in such theories is supererogatory, for the individuation conditions of the act-based propositions remain wholly at the level of concepts and their formal combination, features which the traditional structured proposition theorist endorses. Thus, it is shown that the traditional problems for structured propositions are only ameliorable on the act conception by appeal to (...)
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  28. Force, Content and Logic.Michael Schmitz - 2019 - In Gabriele M. Mras, Paul Weingartner & Bernhard Ritter (eds.), Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics: Contributions of the 41st International Wittgenstein Symposium. pp. 221-223.
    The Frege point to the effect that e.g. the clauses of conditionals are not asserted and therefore cannot be assertions is often taken to establish a dichotomy between the content of a speech act, which is propositional and belongs to logic and semantics, and its force, which belongs to pragmatics. Recently this dichotomy has been questioned by philosophers such as Peter Hanks and Francois Recanati, who propose act-theoretic accounts of propositions, argue that we can’t account for propositional unity independently of (...)
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  29. Analysing Attitudes: How Cognitive Realists Meet Felappi’s Challenge to Propositionalism.Brigham Daniel - 2017 - Analysis 77 (3):498-501.
    In a recent article, Giulia Felappi has leveled a challenge for those who believe that propositional attitudes involve relations between subjects and propositions: they must say more about what it is for a given proposition to figure as the content of one’s attitude. This note argues that Felappi’s challenge has already been met by proponents of act-theoretic conceptions of propositions.
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  30. Against Naturalized Cognitive Propositions.Lorraine Keller - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (4):929-946.
    In this paper, I argue that Scott Soames’ theory of naturalized cognitive propositions faces a serious objection: there are true propositions for which NCP cannot account. More carefully, NCP cannot account for certain truths of mathematics unless it is possible for there to be an infinite intellect. For those who reject the possibility of an infinite intellect, this constitutes a reductio of NCP.
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  31. Acts and Their Objects.Barry Smith - 1983 - In Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. Vienna: Vienna: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky. pp. 85--88.
    I shall begin with the assumption that there are, among our mental acts. some which stand in direct contact with ohjects in the material world. The aim of this paper will he to clarify and to draw out certain implications of this somewhat trivial assumption, and ultimately to say something about the ontological structure of those of our acts which effect the function of bringing us into contact with material acts which serve. as we might say, as the most external (...)
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  32. Propositional Content, by Peter Hanks. Oxford University Press, 2015, X + 227 Pp. ISBN 978‐0‐19‐968489‐2 Hb £30.00. [REVIEW]Daniel Brigham - 2016 - European Journal of Philosophy 24 (4):184-189.
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  33. Propositional Content. [REVIEW]Indrek Reiland - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (1):132-136.
  34. On Cancellation.Peter Hanks - 2019 - Synthese 196 (4):1385-1402.
    In Hanks I defend a theory of propositions that locates the source of propositional unity in acts of predication that people perform in thought and speech. On my account, these acts of predication are judgmental or assertoric in character, and they commit the speaker to things being the way they are represented to be in the act of predication. This leads to a problem about negations, disjunctions, conditionals, and other kinds of embeddings. When you assert that a is F or (...)
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  35. Yes, the Search for Explanation is All We Have.Scott Soames - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2565-2573.
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  36. Soames’s New Conception of Propositions.Ben Caplan - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2533-2549.
    In this paper, I argue that, when it comes to explaining what can be described as “representational” properties of propositions, Soames’s new conception of propositions—on which the proposition that Seattle is sunny is the act of predicating the property being sunny of Seattle and to entertain that proposition is to perform that act—does not have an advantage over traditional ones.
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  37. Cognitive Propositions.Stephen Schiffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2551-2563.
    Soames's new theory of "cognitive propositions" is presented and several prima facie objections are presented to it.
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  38. Rethinking Language, Mind, and Meaning.Scott Soames - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2529-2532.
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  39. Propositions as Cognitive Acts.Scott Soames - 2019 - Synthese 196 (4):1369-1383.
    The paper reviews the central components of the cognitive theory of propositions and explains both its empirical advantages for theories of language and mind and its foundational metaphysical and epistemological advantages over other theories. It then answers a leading objection to the theory, before closing by raising the issue of how questions, which are the contents of interrogative sentences, and directives, which are the contents of imperative sentences, are related to propositions.
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  40. Three Views On Propositions: King, Soames and Speaks. [REVIEW]Alexandru Radulescu - 2017 - Analysis 77 (1):189-197.
  41. New Thinking About Propositions. [REVIEW]John Collins - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (261):842-845.
  42. Jeffrey C. King, Scott Soames, Jeff Speaks, New Thinking About Propositions. [REVIEW]Thomas Hodgson - 2014 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):80-83.
  43. What is Meaning?Scott Soames - 2010 - Princeton University Press.
    The tradition descending from Frege and Russell has typically treated theories of meaning either as theories of meanings, or as theories of truth conditions. However, propositions of the classical sort don't exist, and truth conditions can't provide all the information required by a theory of meaning. In this book, one of the world's leading philosophers of language offers a way out of this dilemma. Traditionally conceived, propositions are denizens of a "third realm" beyond mind and matter, "grasped" by mysterious Platonic (...)
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  44. Should Propositions Proliferate?Bjørn Jespersen - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (4):243-251.
    Soames's cognitive propositions are strings of acts to be performed by an agent, such as predicating a property of an individual. King takes these structured propositions to task for proliferating too easily. King's objection is based on an example that purports to show that three of Soames's propositions are really just one proposition. I translate the informally stated propositions King attributes to Soames into the intensional λ-calculus. It turns out that they are all β-equivalent to the proposition King claims Soames's (...)
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  45. Rethinking Language, Mind, and Meaning.Scott Soames - 2015 - Princeton University Press.
  46. Propositional Content.Peter Hanks - 2015 - Oxford University Press.
    Peter Hanks defends a new theory about the nature of propositional content, according to which the basic bearers of representational properties are particular mental or spoken actions. He explains the unity of propositions and provides new solutions to a long list of puzzles and problems in philosophy of language.
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  47. For Want of Cognitively Defined Propositions: A History of Insights and Lost Philosophical Opportunities.Scott Soames - 2014 - In Analytic Philosophy in America: And Other Historical and Contemporary Essays. Princeton University Press. pp. 71-103.
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  48. On Product‐Based Accounts of Propositional Attitudes.Giulia Felappi - 2014 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (4):302-313.
    Propositional attitude sentences, such as John believes that snow is white, are traditionally taken to express the holding of a relation between a subject and what ‘that’-clauses like ‘that snow is white’ denote, i.e. propositions. On the traditional account, propositions are abstract, mind- and language-independent entities. Recently, some have raised some serious worries for the traditional account and thought that we were mistaken about the kind of entities propositions are. Over the last ten years there has then been a boom (...)
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  49. The Unity of the Proposition.Peter Hanks - 2002 - Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
    In 1910 Bertrand Russell abandoned the theory of propositions that he advocated in 1903 in The Principles of Mathematics because of the problem of the unity of the proposition. This is the problem of explaining how the constituents of a proposition are bound together into a unified, representational whole. This problem has largely been ignored by contemporary advocates of Russellian propositions. I argue that this problem is the result of the Fregean distinction between content and force, the arguments for the (...)
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  50. Propositions, Attitudinal Objects, and the Distinction Between Actions and Products.Friederike Moltmann - 2013 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume on Propositions, Edited by G. Rattan and D. Hunter 43 (5-6):679-701.
    This paper argues that attitudinal objects, entities of the sort of John's judgment, John's thought, and John's claim, should play the role of propositions, as the cognitive products of cognitive acts, not the acts themselves.
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