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Summary Propositions are often said to be the entities which play one or more roles in our theories of language, mind, etc. Which roles do they play, and what does this tell us about what they are like?
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  1. Why Children, Parrots, and Actors Cannot Speak: The Stoics on Genuine and Superficial Speech.Sosseh Assaturian - forthcoming - Apeiron.
    At Varro LL VI.56 and SE M 8.275-276, we find reports of the Stoic view that children and articulate non-rational animals such as parrots cannot genuinely speak. Absent from these testimonia is the peculiar case of the superficiality of the actor’s speech, which appears in one edition of the unstable text of PHerc 307.9 containing fragments of Chrysippus’ Logical Investigations. Commentators who include this edition of the text in their discussions of the Stoic theory of speech do not offer a (...)
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  2. Presentism and Times as Propositions.Luca Banfi & Daniel Deasy - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-19.
    Some Presentists – according to whom everything is present – identify instants of time with propositions of a certain kind. However, the view that times are propositions seems to be at odds with Presentism: if there are times then there are past times, and therefore things that are past; but how could there be things that are past if everything is present? In this paper, we describe the Presentist view that times are propositions (§1); we set out the argument that (...)
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  3. 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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  4. Propositionalism and Questions that do not have Correct Answers.Giulia Felappi - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-19.
    As the label suggests, according to propositionalism, each intentional mental state, attitude or event is or involves a relation to a proposition. In this paper, I will discuss a case that seems prima facie not to be accountable for by propositionalism. After having presented the case, I will show why it is different from others that have been discussed in the literature as able to show that propositionalism cannot be correct. I will then consider what the propositionalist can say to (...)
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  5. Perspectivism.Jeremy Goodman & Harvey Lederman - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Consider the sentence “Lois knows that Superman flies, but she doesn’t know that Clark flies”. In this paper we defend a Millian contextualist semantics for propositional attitude ascriptions, according to which ordinary uses of this sentence are true but involve a mid-sentence shift in context. Absent any constraints on the relevant parameters of context sensitivity, such a semantics would be untenable: it would undermine the good standing of systematic theorizing about the propositional attitudes, trivializing many of the central questions of (...)
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  6. Unstructured Content.Dirk Kindermann, Peter van Elswyk & Andy Egan (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
  7. A Puzzle About Belief-About.Alex Rausch - forthcoming - Mind.
    I present a puzzle for the standard, propositional semantic account of belief reports by considering novel inferences which it incorrectly predicts to be invalid under assumptions that are plausible by its advocates’ own lights. In response, I propose a conservative departure from the standard view on which certain ‘that’-clauses designate novel devices of semantic type that I call open propositions. After outlining some desiderata for a theory of open propositions, I provide some reasons for advocates of the standard view to (...)
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  8. The Nature of Content: A Critique of Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne.Sarah Sawyer - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    In their book, Narrow Content, Juhani Yli-Vakkuri and John Hawthorne attempt to argue against the claim that there is a kind of thought content which is both narrow and theoretically significant. However, their failure to distinguish indexical from non-indexical thought renders their arguments ineffective; a large class of the arguments they present are in fact irrelevant to the question of whether thought content is narrow. The unified treatment of thought content they advocate fails to capture the distinctively mental aspects of (...)
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  9. The Linguistic Basis for Propositions.Peter van Elswyk - forthcoming - In Chris Tillman (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Propositions.
    Propositions are traditionally regarded as performing vital roles in theories of natural language, logic, and cognition. This chapter offers an opinionated survey of recent literature to assess whether they are still needed to perform three linguistic roles: be the meaning of a declarative sentence in a context, be what is designated by certain linguistic expressions, and be the content of illocutionary acts. After considering many of the relevant choice-points, I suggest that there remains a linguistic basis for propositions, but not (...)
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  10. Propositions Are Not Representational.Thomas D. Brown - 2021 - Synthese:1-16.
    It is often presumed by those who use propositions in their theories that propositions are representational; that is, that propositions represent the world as being some way. This paper makes two claims against this presumption. First, it argues that it does not follow from the fact that propositions play the theoretical roles usually attributed to them that they are representational. This conclusion is reached by rebutting three arguments that can be made in support of the claim that propositions are representational. (...)
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  11. Assertion: A (Partly) Social Speech Act.Neri Marsili & Mitchell Green - 2021 - Journal of Pragmatics 181 (August 2021):17-28.
    In a series of articles (Pagin, 2004, 2009), Peter Pagin has argued that assertion is not a social speech act, introducing a method (which we baptize ‘the P-test’) designed to refute any account that defines assertion in terms of its social effects. This paper contends that Pagin's method fails to rebut the thesis that assertion is social. We show that the P-test is both unreliable (because it overgenerates counterexamples) and counterproductive (because it ultimately provides evidence in favor of some social (...)
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  12. Centred Propositions, What is Asserted, and Communication.Jakub Rudnicki - 2021 - Theoria 87 (1):187-206.
    In recent years there has been a heated debate on how to accommodate John Perry's observations about the essentiality of indexicality into our models of linguistic communication. This article is an attempt at providing a new perspective on this issue. I argue that we should jettison two elements taken for granted by the views I present, and criticize, here: no centring, uncentring, recentring and multicentring. These elements are: (1) taking the asserted content to be a part of the communication process (...)
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  13. Confessions of a Schmentencite: Towards an Explicit Semantics.Jonathan Schaffer - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (5-6):593-623.
    ABSTRACT Natural language semantics is heir to two formalisms. There is the extensional machinery of explicit variables traditionally used to model reference to individuals, and the intensional machinery of implicit index parameters traditionally used to model reference to worlds and times. I propose instead a simple and unified extensional formalism – explicit semantics – on which all sentences include explicit individual, world and time variables. No implicit index parameters are needed.
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  14. On Content Uniformity for Beliefs and Desires.Daniel Skibra - 2021 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 12 (2):279-309.
    The view that dominates the literature on intentional attitudes holds that beliefs and desires both have propositional content. A commitment to what I call “content uniformity” underlies this view. According to content uniformity, beliefs and desires are but different psychological modes having a uniform kind of content. Prima facie, the modes don’t place any constraint on the kinds of content the attitude can have. I challenge this consensus by pointing out an asymmetry between belief contents and desire contents which shows (...)
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  15. What is Special About De Se Attitudes?Stephan Torre & Clas Weber - 2021 - In Stephen Biggs & Heimir Geirsson (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Reference. Routledge. pp. 464-481.
    De se attitudes seem to play a special role in action and cognition. This raises a challenge to the traditional way in which mental attitudes have been understood. In this chapter, we review the case for thinking that de se attitudes require special theoretical treatment and discuss various ways in which the traditional theory can be modified to accommodate de se attitudes.
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  16. Pictures, Propositions, and Predicates.Dominic Gregory - 2020 - American Philosophical Quarterly 57 (2):155-170.
    Do representational pictures have propositional contents? The current paper argues that the characteristic contents of pictures are predicative rather than propositional: pictures characterise things as looking certain ways, and they thereby express properties of visual perspectives. The paper argues that the characteristic predicative contents of pictures are nonetheless able to feature in fully-fledged propositional contents once they are combined with contents of other suitable sorts. Various facts about communicative uses of pictures are then explained. The paper concludes by considering the (...)
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  17. Do We Need Propositions?Gordon Barnes - 2019 - Disputatio 11 (52):1-8.
    Trenton Merricks argues that we need propositions to serve as the premises and conclusions of modally valid arguments. A modally valid argument is an argument in which, necessarily, if the premises are true, then the conclusion is also true. According to Mer- ricks, the premises and conclusions of modally valid arguments have their truth conditions essentially, and they exist necessarily. Sentences do not satisfy these conditions. Thus, we need propositions. Merricks’ argument adds a new chapter to the longstanding debate over (...)
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  18. Propositionalism About Intention: Shifting the Burden of Proof.Lucy Campbell - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (2):230-252.
    ABSTRACTA widespread view in the philosophy of mind and action holds that intentions are propositional attitudes. Call this view ‘Propositionalism about Intention’. The key alternative holds that intentions have acts, or do-ables, as their contents. Propositionalism is typically accepted by default, rather than argued for in any detail. By appealing to a key metaphysical constraint on any account of intention, I argue that on the contrary, it is the Do-ables View which deserves the status of the default position, and Propositionalism (...)
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  19. The Face‐Value Theory, Know‐That, Know‐Wh and Know‐How.Giulia Felappi - 2019 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):63-72.
    For sentences such as (1), "Columbus knows that the sea is unpredictable", there is a face-value theory, according to which ‘that’-clauses are singular terms denoting propositions. Famously, Prior raised an objection to the theory, but defenders of the face-value theory such as Forbes, King, Künne, Pietroski and Stanley urged that the objection could be met by maintaining that in (1) ‘to know’ designates a complex relation along the lines of being in a state of knowledge having as content. Is the (...)
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  20. Propositions on the Cheap.Alex Grzankowski & Ray Buchanan - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3159-3178.
    According to the classical account, propositions are sui generis, abstract, intrinsically-representational entities and our cognitive attitudes, and the token states within us that realize those attitudes, represent as they do in virtue of their propositional objects. In light of a desire to explain how it could be that propositions represent, much of the recent literature on propositions has pressured various aspects of this account. In place of the classical account, revisionists have aimed to understand propositions in terms of more familiar (...)
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  21. De Se Relativism.Dirk Kindermann & Andy Egan - 2019 - In Martin Kusch (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Relativism. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 518-527.
  22. Emotional Experience and Propositional Content.Jonathan Mitchell - 2019 - Dialectica 73 (4):535-561.
    Those arguing for the existence of non-propositional content appeal to emotions for support, although there has been little engagement in those debates with developments in contemporary theory of emotion, specifically in connection with the kind of mental states that emotional experiences are. Relatedly, within emotion theory, one finds claims that emotional experiences per se have non-propositional content without detailed argument. This paper argues that the content of emotional experience is propositional in a weak sense, associated with aspectual experience and correctness (...)
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  23. Structured Propositions in a Generative Grammar.Bryan Pickel - 2019 - Mind (510):329-366.
    Semantics in the Montagovian tradition combines two basic tenets. One tenet is that the semantic value of a sentence is an intension, a function from points of evaluations into truth-values. The other tenet is that the semantic value of a composite expression is the result of applying the function denoted by one component to arguments denoted by the other components. Many philosophers object to intensional semantics on the grounds that intensionally equivalent sentences do not substitute salva veritate into attitude ascriptions. (...)
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  24. Realism and Instrumentalism in Philosophical Explanation.Ori Simchen - 2019 - Metaphysics 2 (1):1-15.
    There is a salient contrast in how theoretical representations are regarded. Some are regarded as revealing the nature of what they represent, as in familiar cases of theoretical identification in physical chemistry where water is represented as hydrogen hydroxide and gold is represented as the element with atomic number 79. Other theoretical representations are regarded as serving other explanatory aims without being taken individually to reveal the nature of what they represent, as in the representation of gold as a standard (...)
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  25. Content in a Dynamic Context.Una Stojnić - 2019 - Noûs 53 (2):394-432.
    The standing tradition in theorizing about meaning, since at least Frege, identifies meaning with propositions, which are, or determine, the truth-conditions of a sentence in a context. But a recent trend has advocated a departure from this tradition: in particular, it has been argued that modal claims do not express standard propositional contents. This non-propositionalism has received different implementations in expressivist semantics and certain kinds of dynamic semantics. They maintain that the key aspect of interpretation of modal claims is the (...)
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  26. Propositional Anaphors.Peter van Elswyk - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (4):1055-1075.
    Propositions are posited to perform a variety of explanatory roles. One important role is being what is designated by a dedicated linguistic expression like a "that"-clause. In this paper, the case that propositions are needed for such a role is bolstered by defending that there are other expressions dedicated to designating propositions. In particular, it is shown that natural language has anaphors for propositions. Complement "so" and the response markers "yes" and "no" are argued to be such expressions.
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  27. Meaning and Modality.Jesse Fitts - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    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 (...)
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  28. Meaning Underdetermines What is Said, Therefore Utterances Express Many Propositions.Thomas Hodgson - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (2):165-189.
    Linguistic meaning underdetermines what is said. This has consequences for philosophical accounts of meaning, communication, and propositional attitude reports. I argue that the consequence we should endorse is that utterances typically express many propositions, that these are what speakers mean, and that the correct semantics for attitude reports will handle this fact while being relational and propositional.
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  29. Propositions and Truth-Bearers.Jeffrey C. King - 2018 - In Michael Glanzberg (ed.), The Oxford handbook of truth. Oxford University Press. pp. 307-332.
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  30. Propositionalism Without Propositions, Objectualism Without Objects.Angela Mendelovici - 2018 - In Alex Grzankowski & Michelle Montague (eds.), Non-Propositional Intentionality. Oxford, UK: Oxford, UK. pp. 214-233.
    Propositionalism is the view that all intentional states are propositional states, which are states with a propositional content, while objectualism is the view that at least some intentional states are objectual states, which are states with objectual contents, such as objects, properties, and kinds. This paper argues that there are two distinct ways of understanding propositionalism and objectualism: (1) as views about the deep nature of the contents of intentional states, and (2) as views about the superficial character of the (...)
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  31. Truth Predicates, Truth Bearers, and Their Variants.Friederike Moltmann - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 2):1-28.
    This paper argues that truth predicates in natural language and their variants, predicates of correctness, satisfaction and validity, do not apply to propositions (not even with 'that'-clauses), but rather to a range of attitudinal and modal objects. As such natural language reflects a notion of truth that is primarily a normative notion of correctness constitutive of representational objects. The paper moreover argues that 'true' is part of a larger class of satisfaction predicates whose semantic differences are best accounted for in (...)
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  32. Names of Truth Bearers, and “That”‐Clauses: A Dilemma for Millians.Paolo Bonardi - 2017 - Theoria 83 (3):175-184.
    Millianism is the doctrine according to which the semantic content of a proper name is exhausted by its referent. This article raises and attempts to solve a dilemma for Millians: either a proper name of a truth bearer is in turn a truth bearer ; or having a truth bearer as semantic content is not sufficient for a linguistic expression to be a truth bearer. As it will be shown in the manuscript, the dilemma does not arise with “that”-clauses in (...)
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  33. Dynamic Semantics.Karen S. Lewis - 2017 - Oxford Handbooks Online.
    This article focuses on foundational issues in dynamic and static semantics, specifically on what is conceptually at stake between the dynamic framework and the truth-conditional framework, and consequently what kinds of evidence support each framework. The article examines two questions. First, it explores the consequences of taking the proposition as central semantic notion as characteristic of static semantics, and argues that this is not as limiting in accounting for discourse dynamics as many think. Specifically, it explores what it means for (...)
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  34. The Elusive Case for Relationalism About the Attitudes: Reply to Rattan.Robert J. Matthews - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2):453-462.
    The question I address here is whether there is anything about what Rattan describes as the normative and perspectival aspects of propositional attitudes that demands a relational account of the attitudes, specifically anything that cannot equally well be explained on measurement-theoretic accounts of the sort that I (and others) have defended which do not incorporate or presume a cognitive relation to a proposition. I argue that there is not.
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  35. Are Propositions Mere Measures Of Mind?Gurpreet Rattan - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (2):433-452.
    According to the Relational View of Propositional Attitude Reports (‘Relational View of Reports’, for short), attitude reports report thinkers as standing in cognitive relations to propositions. One difficult question for the view is: What is the nature of the cognitive relation(s) thinkers stand in to propositions in having propositional attitudes? One promise of The Measure Theory of Mind (sometimes, ‘The Measure Theory’ or ‘Measure Theory’ for short) is that it can avoid having to answer this question by allowing attitude reports (...)
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  36. The Underdeterminacy of Sentences and the Expressibility of Our Thoughts.Delia Belleri - 2016 - Dialectica 70 (1):29-48.
    It has been argued by many authors that sentences fail to express full-blown propositions: a phenomenon known as semantic underdeterminacy. In some cases, this thesis is accompanied by a conception of thought as fully propositional. This implies that sentences fail to fully express our thoughts. Against this, I argue that many thoughts can be fully expressed by sentences, where by ‘fully expressed’ I mean encoded by a sentence plus minimal contextual information. These are thoughts that may be characterized as less (...)
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  37. The Objects of Belief and Credence.David Braun - 2016 - Mind 125 (498):469-497.
    David Chalmers uses Bayesian theories of credence to argue against referentialism about belief. This paper argues that Chalmers’s Bayesian objections to referentialism are similar to older, more familiar objections to referentialism. There are familiar responses to the old objections, and there is a predictable way to modify those old responses to meet Chalmers’s Bayesian objections. The new responses to the new objections are no less plausible than the old responses to the old objections. Chalmers’s positive theory of belief and credence (...)
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  38. Referentialism and the Objects of Credence: A Reply to Braun.David J. Chalmers - 2016 - Mind 125 (498):499-510.
  39. Salmon’s Translation Argument.David Sackris - 2016 - Southwest Philosophy Review 32 (2):163-182.
    In this paper I take a careful look at Nathan Salmon’s translation argument from his paper “The Very Possibility of Language: A Sermon on Missing Church” to see if it proves as much as Salmon claims. In particular, should we consider the translation argument conclusive evidence that belief ascriptions must be relations between individuals and propositions and that a sentential account is completely inadequate? I don’t think so. Salmon is too quick to dismiss the sentential account on the basis of (...)
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  40. A Propositional Semantics for Substitutional Quantification.Geoff Georgi - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (5):1183-1200.
    The standard truth-conditional semantics for substitutional quantification, due to Saul Kripke, does not specify what proposition is expressed by sentences containing the particular substitutional quantifier. In this paper, I propose an alternative semantics for substitutional quantification that does. The key to this semantics is identifying an appropriate propositional function to serve as the content of a bound occurrence of a formula containing a free substitutional variable. I apply this semantics to traditional philosophical reasons for interest in substitutional quantification, namely, theories (...)
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  41. Pictures Have Propositional Content.Alex Grzankowski - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (1):151-163.
    Although philosophers of art and aesthetics regularly appeal to a notion of ‘pictorial content’, there is little agreement over its nature. The present paper argues that pictures have propositional contents. This conclusion is reached by considering a style of argument having to do with the phenomenon of negation intended to show that pictures must have some kind of non-propositional content. I first offer reasons for thinking that arguments of that type fail. Second, I show that when properly understood, such arguments (...)
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  42. Abstract Objects and the Semantics of Natural Language, by Friederike Moltmann. [REVIEW]Byeong-Uk Yi - 2015 - Mind 124 (495):958-964.
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  43. You Can Say What You Think: Vindicating the Effability of Our Thoughts.Delia Belleri - 2014 - Synthese 191 (18):4431-4450.
    The thesis of Ineffability has it that no proposition can be fully expressed by a sentence, this meaning that no sentence-type, or even sentence-token whose indexicality and ambiguities have been resolved, can fully encode a proposition. The thesis of the propositionality of thoughts has it that thoughts are propositional. An implication of the joint endorsement of these two theses is that thoughts are ineffable. The aim of this paper is to argue that this is not the case: there are effable (...)
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  44. ‘In Defence of Sententialism’.Giulia Felappi - 2014 - Dialectica 68 (4):581-603.
    Propositional attitude sentences, such as (1) Pierre believes that snow is white, have proved to be formidably difficult to account for in a semantic theory. It is generally agreed that the that-clause ‘that snow is white’ purports to refer to the proposition that snow is white, but no agreement has been reached on what this proposition is. Sententialism is a semantic theory which tries to undermine the very enterprise of understanding what proposition is referred to in (1): according to sententialists, (...)
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  45. Chalmers on the Objects of Credence.Jesse Fitts - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (2):343-358.
    Chalmers (Mind 120(479): 587–636, 2011a) presents an argument against “referentialism” (and for his own view) that employs Bayesianism. He aims to make progress in a debate over the objects of belief, which seems to be at a standstill between referentialists and non-referentialists. Chalmers’ argument, in sketch, is that Bayesianism is incompatible with referentialism, and natural attempts to salvage the theory, Chalmers contends, requires giving up referentialism. Given the power and success of Bayesianism, the incompatibility is prima facie evidence against referentialism. (...)
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  46. Constructing Meanings.Jason Stanley - 2014 - Analysis 74 (4):662-676.
  47. On What is Effable.Delia Belleri - 2013 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 2 (4):341-349.
    The Effability thesis has it that all propositions can be encoded by a sentence. By contrast, the Ineffability thesis has it that no proposition can be encoded by a sentence. In this article, I undermine an important motivation for the Ineffability thesis and advance a proposal concerning what is effable and what is not. My strategy will be as follows: First, I'll note that the Ineffability thesis assumes that propositions/thoughts are determinate. I'll point out that propositions/thoughts qua the things we (...)
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  48. Can God Know More? A Case Study in the Later Medieval Debate About Propositions.Susan Brower-Toland - 2013 - In Charles Bolyard & Rondo Keele (eds.), Later Medieval Metaphysics: Ontology, Language, and Logic. Fordham University Press. pp. 161-187.
    This paper traces a rather peculiar debate between William Ockham, Walter Chatton, and Robert Holcot over whether it is possible for God to know more than he knows. Although the debate specifically addresses a theological question about divine knowledge, the central issue at stake in it is a purely philosophical question about the nature and ontological status of propositions. The theories of propositions that emerge from the discussion appear deeply puzzling, however. My aim in this paper is to show that (...)
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  49. Abstract Objects and the Semantics of Natural Language.Friederike Moltmann - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
    This book pursues the question of how and whether natural language allows for reference to abstract objects in a fully systematic way. By making full use of contemporary linguistic semantics, it presents a much greater range of linguistic generalizations than has previously been taken into consideration in philosophical discussions, and it argues for an ontological picture is very different from that generally taken for granted by philosophers and semanticists alike. Reference to abstract objects such as properties, numbers, propositions, and degrees (...)
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  50. Two Roles for Propositions: Cause for Divorce?Mark Schroeder - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):409-430.
    Nondescriptivist views in many areas of philosophy have long been associated with the commitment that in contrast to other domains of discourse, there are no propositions in their particular domain. For example, the ‘no truth conditions’ theory of conditionals1 is understood as the view that conditionals don’t express propositions, noncognitivist expressivism in metaethics is understood as advocating the view that there are not really moral propositions,2 and expressivism about epistemic modals is thought of as the view that there is no (...)
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