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 (...) one, but it requires that the Russellian treat complex properties as constituents of propositions. This leads to the second major problem for Russellians: that of proliferating propositions. I show how the most direct solution to this problem, that of rejecting complex predicative propositional constituents is available to Fregeans but very implausible for Russellians, since this virtually means rejecting complex properties. (shrink)
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 (...) the attitude relations rather than the propositions. As we will see there are infinitely many relations we might bear to a proposition, but the propositional attitude relations are special amongst them. Accounting for what makes them special will be an important component in the discussion that follows. We will argue that once one appreciates certain facts about propositional attitude relations, various claims that metaphysicians often make regarding propositions themselves begin to look undermotivated. In fact, many views on the metaphysical nature of propositions come to look like plausible candidates for being that to which our propositional attitudes relate us. As will emerge, we will see that the principle role of propositions in the theory of mind is simply to keep track of how our attitudinal states represent things as being. But, we argue, in order to do this work, very few constraints must be placed on the nature of propositions themselves. In particular, contra much of the recent work on the metaphysics of propositions, they need not represent nor must they be structured. In light of these observations, we conclude by sketching our own favored minimalist view of propositions. (shrink)
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 (...) this light some critical points against Hanks’ (2015, 2019) act-theoretic view, and Recanati’s (2019) recent elaboration of Hanks’ notion of cancellation. Both Hanks and Recanati, I’ll argue, rely on problematic conceptions of fiction and pretense. (shrink)
Recently, Indrek Reiland proposed a new version of the act-type theory of propositions (ATT) in which predication is still committal. However, the Frege-Geach problem can be addressed without resorting to Peter Hanks's cancellation manoeuvre. In this article, I argue that if we take predication as a committal act, we will then have to tackle another problem: non-committal representational acts. I argue that Reiland still needs a notion of cancellation to deal with the latter problem. On this account, he cannot avoid (...) the major flaw he attributes to Hanks's version. (shrink)
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 (...) of consensus. We think the lack of consensus itself cries out for explanation. In this paper, we sketch a pluralist resolution (or, better, a dissolution) of the debate that flows from some extremely minimal commitments regarding the metaphysics of propositions and the attitudinal relations we bear to them. In doing so, we focus on the Act-type conception of propositions of Hanks (2015) and Soames (2010, 2016) and our own (2019) favored deflationary account, Minimalism. (shrink)
I propose a version of the act‐type theory of propositions, following Hanks and Soames. According to the theory, propositions are types of act of predication. The content of a sentence is the type of such act performed when that sentence is uttered. A consequence of this theory is that the structure of the content of a sentence will mirror the structure of that sentence. I defend this consequence of the theory from two important objections. I then argue that this theory (...) is well motivated because it can be part of a theory of what is said. (shrink)
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.
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, (...) a bare act of thinking of o, as well as a more involved notion, something like making o a target of predication. Second, that the acts of thinking of o and indication of the property of being F are in no sense parts of the acts of predication of being F of o and judgment that o is F. Rather, the former are simply necessary preconditions for the performance of the latter. The acts of predication or judgment are emphatically not structured sequences of separate acts but unities in and of themselves. Finally, that we should understand the Act-Based theorists’ claim that to predicate is to judge as the claim that judgment can be reductively analyzed in terms of predication. Furthermore, while predication is metaphysically a multiple relation between a predicator, a target, and the property predicated, judgment is a monadic property, just one that has propositional content. (shrink)
In recent years, a variety of philosophers have argued that the fundamental bearers of representational properties like truth are concrete particulars produced by cognitive agents—representational vehicles (“RVs”), as I will call them. This view apparently conflicts with other judgments that are part of our common sense understanding of truth. For instance, it is plausible that there are truths about the Milky Way that have and never will never be articulated by anyone. Whatever these truths are, it looks like they cannot (...) be RVs, because an RV is articulated just in case it exists. In this paper, I argue that it is consistent to hold that the fundamental truth-bearers are representational vehicles, while also acknowledging the existence of unarticulated truths. I argue that truth is a property that derivatively holds of kinds of RVs, that these provide the basis for our judgments that there are unarticulated truths, and I defend the view against putative counter-examples. (shrink)
In recent work, Scott Soames (2010, 2013, 2015, 2019) and Peter Hanks (2011, 2013, 2015) have developed a theory of propositions on which these are constituted by complexes of intellectual acts. In this article, I adapt this type of theory to provide an account of perceptual content. After introducing terminology in section 1, I detail the approach proffered by Soames and Hanks in section 2, focusing on Hanks’s version. In section 3, I introduce a problem that these theories face, namely, (...) how to account for the unity among the relevant intellectual acts. Section 4 provides an answer to this problem of unity, while section 5 explicates the relation to Soames and Hanks. In section 6, I extend the model to a theory of the unity of experiential consciousness. Finally, in section 7, I apply the preceding considerations to debates about the nature of perceptual representation. The upshot will be that experiential unity is not simply a phenomenal feature of consciousness, but central to an account of the role perceptual representation plays in perceptual cognition. (shrink)
I argue that the act-based accounts of propositions, like the one defended by Soames, cannot be used to address Frege’s Puzzle without also giving up the Millian view of names. I begin by identifying two puzzles—both of which have been called Frege’s puzzle—and discuss the act-based theorist’s solution to the first puzzle. I then raise an objection against the solution and argue that it cannot be overcome unless a concession is made. Making the concession, however, would make it impossible for (...) the act-based theorist to solve the second puzzle. I further argue that any attempt to solve the puzzle while also maintaining a commitment to the Millian view will force such theoretical commitments on the act-based theorist which seriously undermine the scope and motivation of the act-based approaches. Thus, any solution to Frege’s puzzle on the act-based account is bound to conflict with the Millian view of names. (shrink)
In this paper I propose three steps to overcome the force-content dichotomy and dispel the Frege point. First, we should ascribe content to force indicators. Through basic assertoric and directive force indicators such as intonation, word order and mood, a subject presents its position of theoretical or practical knowledge of a state of affairs as a fact, as something that is the case, or as a goal, as something to do. Force indicators do not operate on truth- or satisfaction evaluable (...) entities as on the traditional view, but complete and unify them. Second, higher-level acts such as interrogative, logical and fictional acts create higher-level unities that may suspend commitment to the assertions and directions they operate on. But they do not cancel their force, but transfer the meaning of force indicators into the new unities they create. For example, in the context of asking a theoretical or practical question, the assertoric or directive force indicator now presents the kind of knowledge the subject is seeking. Third, the Frege point conflates different varieties of force. We neither need Frege’s assertion sign, nor Hare’s neustic, nor Hanks’s cancellation sign, but only ordinary force indicators and interrogative, logical and fictional markers. Propositions are not forceless contents to which a subject commits by forceful acts, but forceful acts put forward by higher-level acts which may suspend commitment to them. (shrink)
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 (...) show how they can be overcome within the cognitive framework. Soames’s conception of propositions is needlessly encumbered by identifying them with acts rather than objects. Soames has not fully exploited the possibilities opened up by embracing cognitive propositions, and is still too attached to Russellian propositions and Millian semantics. As a result, his conception of the constituents of propositions is untenable, and his semantics still faces Frege’s and Russell’s problem, which are easily avoidable with the resources of cognitive propositions. Soames was led astray by a mistaken assumption about transparent attitude reports. (shrink)
According to act theories, propositions are structured cognitive act‐types. Act theories appear to make propositions inherently representational and truth‐evaluable, and to provide solutions to familiar problems with alternative theories, including Frege’s and Russell’s problems, and the third‐realm and unity problems. Act theories have critical problems of their own, though: acts as opposed to their objects are not truth evaluable, not structured in the right way, not expressed by sentences, and not the objects of propositional attitudes. I show how identifying propositions (...) with other cognitive event‐types, namely thoughts, has the perceived virtues of act theories without the defects. (shrink)
Jeff King, Scott Soames, and Peter Hanks have advanced substantive theories of propositions, to deal with several issues they have raised 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, I’ll argue, create spurious problems by characterizing propositions in ways that make them unfit to perform (...) their theoretical jobs. I will present in this light some critical points against recent substantivist proposals. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe in things, propositions, which are the things that we believe, assert etc., and which are the contents of sentences. The act-type theory of propositions is an attempt to say what propositions are, to explain how we stand in relations to them, and to explain why they are true or false. The core idea of the act-type theory is that propositions are types of acts of predication. The theory is developed in various ways to offer explanations of the (...) important properties of propositions. I present the core idea of the theory, and some developments of it. I discuss the relationship between the theory and the content–force distinction. I also present an important type of objection that has been raised to the explanations offered by the act-type theory. (shrink)
Båve has argued that act-type theories of propositions entail unwanted ambiguity of sentences such as ‘Donald loves Joan’. King has argued that act-type theories of propositions entail an unwanted abundance of propositions. I reply that a version of the act-type theory can avoid these objections. The key idea is that grammar constrains the acts that can be performed by the utterance of a sentence. I present enough of the details of this version of the act-type theory to show how it (...) can be used to respond to Båve's and King's objections. I conclude that this is a promising way to develop the act-type theory of propositions. (shrink)
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.
ABSTRACT 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 is just 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: the contents of occurrent desires cannot be determined by acts of predication. (shrink)
Questions are not on all fours with assertions or directions, but higher-level acts that can operate on either to yield theoretical questions, as when one asks whether the door is closed, or practical questions, as when one asks whether to close it. They contain interrogative force indicators, which present positions of wondering, but also assertoric or directive force indicators which present the position of theoretical or practical knowledge the subject is striving for. Views based on the traditional force-content distinction take (...) the indicative mood for granted and therefore do not understand assertion in contrast to direction, but in contrast to questions and other higher-level acts such as logical and fictional acts. But a corresponding sign like Frege's judgement stroke can only redundantly signal the absence of a higher-level act. (shrink)
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 (...) Twardowskians take to refute the act-theoretic approach can, in fact, be handled by that approach. (shrink)
In my book Logical Form I outline some reasons for thinking that, in the sense of «logical form» that matters to logic, logical form is determined by truth conditions. This paper compares three theories of propositions that might be employed to substantiate the underlying notion of truth conditions: the naturalized propositions theory, the truthmaker theory, and the classificatory theory. Its aim is to show that, while the naturalized propositions theory and the truthmaker theory accord equally well with the idea that (...) logical form is determined by truth conditions, the classificatory theory is more problematic in some respects. (shrink)
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 (...) for, and then sketch, an iconic theory of propositions according to which propositions are like or similar to their objects of representation. Propositions on this theory are properties that the mind instantiates when it models the world. I connect the theory to recent developments in the propositions literature as well as to a strain of cognitive science that explains some kinds of mental representation in terms of iconicity. (shrink)
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 (...) class of different structures according to one or more formal criteria and designating a privileged element as a representative of all the elements, i.e., a first among equals. The proposed method helps us to a cluster of notions of co-hyperintensionality. As a test case, I consider a recent objection levelled against the act theory of structured propositions. I also respond to an objection against my methodology. (shrink)
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 (...) “Mary’s card is an ace”, current speech-act theories of propositions can only accommodate two of them. We distinguish between “It is false that Mary’s card is an ace”, “Mary’s card is a non-ace”, and “Mary’s card is not an ace” and show that Hanks and his commentators cannot explain content negation. We call this Hanks’ Negation Problem. The problem is significant because content negation is the negation required for logic. Fortunately, we think there is a natural way for Hanks to accommodate content negation as successive acts of predication. The view solves Hanks’ Negation Problem with only resources internal to Hanks’ own view. (shrink)
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 (...) the problem fail to solve it; (4) I propose a way to fix the problem, and then I explain how the problem re-emerges in the act theorist’s treatment of propositional attitude relations. (shrink)
This book presents 12 original essays on historical and contemporary philosophical discussions of judgment. The central issues explored in this volume can be separated into two groups namely, those concerning the act and object of judgment. What kind of act is judgment? How is it related to a range of other mental acts, states, and dispositions? Where and how does assertive force enter in? Is there a distinct category of negative judgments, or are these simply judgments whose objects are negative? (...) Concerning the object of judgment: How many objects are there of a given judgment? One, as on the dual relation theory of Frege and Moore? Or many as in Russell's later multiple relation theory? If there is a single object, is it a proposition? And if so, is it a force-neutral, abstract entity that might equally figure as the object of a range of intentional attitudes? Or is it somehow constitutively tied to the act itself? These and related questions are approached from a variety of historical and contemporary perspectives. This book sheds new light on current controversies by drawing on the details of the distinct intellectual contexts in which previous philosophers' positions about the nature of judgment were formulated. In turn, new directions in present-day research promise to raise novel interpretive prospects and challenges in the history of philosophy. istorical and contemporary perspectives. This book sheds new light on current controversies by drawing on the details of the distinct intellectual contexts in which previous philosophers' positions about the nature of judgment were formulated. In turn, new directions in present-day research promise to raise novel interpretive prospects and challenges in the history of philosophy. (shrink)
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] (...) of John. Since the two properties are distinct, so are the act types. Hence, the sentence expresses two propositions. I also discuss a non-standard “pluralist” act-type theory, as well as some retreat positions, which all come with considerable problems. Finally, I extrapolate to a general constraint on theories of structured propositions, and find that Jeffrey King’s theory has the same unacceptable consequence as the act-type theory. (shrink)
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 (...) as their parts truth-evaluable propositions, but their simulations, which are neither forceful nor truth-evaluable. The view makes room for the idea that there is no such thing as the forceless expression of propositional contents and is attractive because it provides the resources for avoiding a fundamental problem generated by the Frege–Geach Point concerning the relation between forceless and forceful expressions of propositional contents. I further argue that the acceptance of the Frege–Geach Point mars Peter Hanks’ and François Recanati’s recent attempts to resist the widespread idea that assertoric force is extrinsic to the expression of propositional contents. Rejecting this idea, I maintain, requires a deeper break with the tradition than Hanks and Recanati have allowed for. (shrink)
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 (...) propositions. Second, I argue that this failure motivates a general constraint—the ‘unity requirement’—that any expressivist theory of propositions must provide a unified nonrepresentational explanation of that in virtue of which propositional attitudes have the content that they have. Third, I argue that conceptual role accounts of content provide a promising framework in which to develop an expressivist theory of cognitive propositions. (shrink)
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 (...) b is G you do not assert that a is F, nor do you commit yourself to a’s being F. According to my theory, however, in uttering the disjunction you predicate F of a. What is going on? I account for these cases using the concept of cancellation. In uttering the disjunction, the act of predicating F of a is cancelled, and when an act of predication is cancelled it does not count as an assertion and does not commit the speaker to anything. But what is it for an act of predication to be cancelled? One immediate concern is that cancelled predication won’t provide a unified proposition to be the input to disjunction. In this paper I answer this and related objections by explaining and defending my concept of cancellation. (shrink)
Recently, there’s been a lot of interest in a research program that tries to understand propositional representation in terms of the subject’s performance of sub-propositional mental acts like reference and predication (e. g. Burge 2010, Hanks 2015, Soames 2010, 2015). For example, on one version of the view, for a subject to predicate the property of being a composer of Arvo just is what it is to perform the to the basic propositional act of judging that Arvo is a composer (...) (e. g. Hanks 2015). In this paper I first present my own version of this view and contrast it with alternatives. I then argue that we must clearly separate the thin predication-resultant notion of judging (S(emantic)-judgment) from a much richer notion used in epistemology (E(pistemic)-judgment). The former is just the act of thinking a forceful thought. The latter is the act of making up one’s mind about how things are, a way of concluding theoretical or doxastic deliberation. I argue that these two acts differ in three ways: levels of propositional attitude, objective vs. subjective norms, and the possibility of sub-personal occurrence. (shrink)
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 (...) rise to the Frege-Geach problem. Others think that predication must be neutral, if we’re to avoid the Frege-Geach problem. However, it looks like nothing neutral can explain representation. In this paper I present a third view, one which respects the powerful reasons while avoiding the problems. On this view predication is forceful and can thus explain representation, but the idea is implemented in a novel way, avoiding the Frege-Geach problem. The key is to make sense of the notion of grasping a proposition as an objectual act where the object is a proposition. (shrink)
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 (...) the forceful acts of speakers, and respond to the Frege point by appealing to a notion of force cancellation. I argue that the notion of force cancellation is faced with a dilemma and offer an alternative response to the Frege point, which extends the act-theoretic account to logical acts such as conditionalizing or disjoining. Such higher-level acts allow us to present forceful acts while suspending commitment to them. In connecting them, a subject rather commits to an affirmation function of such acts. In contrast, the Frege point confuses a lack of commitment to what is put forward with a lack of commitment or force in what is put forward. (shrink)
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 (...) us to give a more satisfactory analysis of the speech act of inviting a joint commitment and to answer two important questions Bernhard Schmid has raised about group speech acts, namely whether there are 1st person plural forms of Moore’s paradox and of 1st person authority. (shrink)
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.
Theories of propositions as complex acts, of the sort recently defended by Peter Hanks and Scott Soames, make room for the existence of distinct propositions which nonetheless represent the same objects as having the same properties and standing in the same relations. This theoretical virtue is due to the claim that the complex acts with which propositions are identified can include particular ways of cognizing, or referring to, objects and properties. I raise two questions about this sort of view—one about (...) what it means to stand in a propositional attitude relation to a complex act of this sort, and one about which ways of cognizing can be parts of propositions. Both questions turn out to be difficult for the complex act theorist to answer in a satisfactory way. (shrink)
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 (...) the very resources of the traditional conception. It is also shown that the act theories have no act-based account of quantification and other operator-involving relations. An elementary account of propositions is sketched, after Fodor, which retains the virtues of the traditional structural conception without falling into ’Platonism’. (shrink)
I intended to write four papers whose topics faintly concerned separate issues in meaning and modality. As it turned out, chapters 1-3 all roughly concern the same topic: propositions. While I argue for two different theses in chapters 1 and 2, I try to understand the changing propositions literature in both. In addition to arguing for the respective theses in chapters 1 and 2, accounting for this change is a parallel goal for the chapters taken together. Chapter 3 examines particular (...) propositional roles---the objects of the attitudes and the objects of credence. Finally, chapter 4 changes the subject to the second conjunct in the title---modality, specifically of the epistemic kind. (shrink)
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.
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.