[This is an old version which is superseded by the published version. I keep it here for the record, as it has been cited.] A strict dichotomy between the force / mode of speech acts and intentional states and their propositional content has been a central feature of analytical philosophy of language and mind since the time of Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. Recently this dichotomy has been questioned by philosophers such as Peter Hanks (2015, 2016) and Francois Recanati (2016), (...) who argue that we can't account for propositional unity independently of the forceful acts of speakers and propose new ways of responding to the notorious 'Frege point' by appealing to a notion of force cancellation. In my paper I will offer some supplementary criticisms of the traditional view, but also a way of reconceptualizing the force-content distinction which allows us to preserve certain of its features, and an alternative response to the Frege point that rejects the notion of force cancellation in favor of an appeal to intentional acts that create additional forms of unity at higher levels of intentional organization: acts such as questioning a statement or order, or merely putting it forward or entertaining it; pretending to state or order; or conjoining or disjoining statements or orders. This allows us to understand how we can present a forceful act without being committed to it. In contrast, the Frege point confuses a lack of commitment to with a lack of commitment or force in what is put forward. (shrink)
I formulate an account, in terms of essence and ground, that explains why atomic Russellian propositions have the truth conditions they do. The key ideas are that (i) atomic propositions are just 0-adic relations, (ii) truth is just the 1-adic version of the instantiation (or, as I will say, holding) relation (Menzel 1993: 86, note 27), and (iii) atomic propositions have the truth conditions they do for basically the same reasons that partially plugged relations, like being an x and a (...) y such that Philip gave x to y, have the holding conditions they do. The account is meant to be mainly of intrinsic interest, but I hope that it goes some distance toward answering an objection to classical theories of propositions put forward by King (2014), who writes that ‘since the classical conception of propositions as things that have truth conditions by their very natures and independently of minds and languages is incapable of explaining how or why propositions have truth conditions, it is unacceptable’ (2014: 47). Propositions do have their truth conditions ‘by their very natures’ and ‘independently of minds and languages’. But a fact about a given entity can hold by the very nature of that entity without being a fundamental fact. I argue that this is plausibly the case for atomic Russellian propositions and the facts about their truth conditions. A fact about the truth conditions of such a proposition holds by the very nature of the given proposition but is metaphysically grounded in facts about that proposition’s parts and their essences. If my account is correct, then the supposedly intractable problem of explaining why the given propositions have the truth conditions they do reduces to the problem of explaining why relations have the holding essences they do, which few seem to have found worrisome . (shrink)
This chapter considers the ‘hosting question’ of how immanent universals, in contrast to transcendent universals, are ‘brought down to earth’ from ‘Plato’s heaven’. It explores the thesis that the hosting amounts to their being constituents of the states of affairs that result from their instantiations. These states of affairs are concrete complexes consisting of particulars and universals, and perhaps something that links them together. The traditional view that immanent universals are concrete is briefly defended against a recent prominent objection. On (...) relationalism, states of affairs are unified by a relation of some sort; on non-relationalism they are unified non-relationally. Roughly, these two conceptions of states of affairs are equivalent to Armstrong’s relational and non-relational versions of immanent realism, respectively. Armstrong mostly criticises the former and defends the latter. It is argued, however, that relationalism, at least potentially, answers the hosting question, whereas non-relationalism realism does not. (shrink)
This paper presents a novel perspective on the force-content distinction making use of truthmaker semantics and an ontology of attitudinal objects, things that are neither acts (or states) nor propositions. It gives a novel norm-based definition of the notion of direction of fit, strictly linking truth and (non-action-guiding) correctness.
In manuscripts from 1929, Wittgenstein envisaged a phenomenological language as a means to describe the experience of objects, alternative to an account of experienced objects provided by ordinary language - but the project failed. The chapter addresses that failure and its significance to philosophical methodology. Wittgenstein acknowledges that the ideal of a non-hypothetical description of immediate experience tempted not only him, but also other philosophers. The chapter traces an itinerary to his concerns that the fulfilment of that ideal - to (...) purely describe a purified experience - would eventually lead into "a bewitched swamp where everything comprehensible vanishes" and would ultimately involve an "inarticulate sound with which many writers would like to begin philosophy". Wittgenstein perceives variations of that sound in Husserl, Heidegger, and the private language he later addresses. (shrink)
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)
Naïve Realists hold that perceptual experience is a conscious relation to an object and its property-instances. In contrast, Representationalists hold that it is a conscious representational state with content, something which is accurate or inaccurate in certain conditions. The most common versions of Representationalism take perceptual content to be either general (Generalism) or singular in the object-place and otherwise consisting of attribution of properties (Singularism/Attributionism). Susanna Schellenberg has recently developed a version on which perceptual content is singular even in the (...) property-place in containing a de re mode of presentation of a property-instance (Particularism) (Schellenberg 2018). Particularism is explicitly motivated by its ability to capture certain Naïve Realist insights and it would be genuine progress if it were the best version of Representationalism. Then the debate between Naïve Realism and Representationalism would reduce to the debate over Disjunctivism. In this paper I show that Particularism faces a version of the problem of the Unity of Perceptual Content. Namely, its supporters haven’t told us how objects can be bound together with property-instances into a content such that it represents them and has accuracy-conditions. Furthermore, I argue that Particularists face an in-principle obstacle in solving it. In contrast, Attributionists can say that objects are bound together with properties into a content because the latter are attributed to the former. This establishes Attributionism as the only Representationalist game in town. But Attributionism can’t capture all Naïve Realist insights that the Particularists are after. Thus, the debate between Naïve Realism and Representationalism doesn’t reduce to the debate over Disjunctivism. (shrink)
Bertrand Russell was neither the first nor the last philosopher to engage in serious theorizing about propositions. But his work between 1903, when he published The Principles of Mathematics, and 1919, when his final lectures on logical atomism were published, remains among the most important on the subject. And its importance is not merely historical. Russell’s rapidly evolving treatment of propositions during this period was driven by his engagement with – and discovery of – puzzles that either continue to shape (...) contemporary theorizing about propositions, or ought to do so. Russell’s creative responses to these puzzles also laid the foundation for many later accounts (most obviously, contemporary ‘Russellian’ accounts of propositions). In this entry we provide an opinionated overview of Russell’s influential treatment of propositions, with a focus on the evolution of his views from 1903 to 1919. A growing secondary literature is dedicated to Russell’s changing views during this period, and their often complex or opaque motivations. We do not intervene overmuch in this ongoing scholarly discussion. Instead, our aim is to trace some of the central motivations for Russell’s evolving views, and highlight the extent to which these motivations remain relevant to contemporary theorizing about propositions. (shrink)
This volume advances discussions between critics and defenders of the force-content distinction and opens new ways of thinking about force and speech acts in relation to the unity problem. -/- The force-content dichotomy has shaped the philosophy of language and mind since the time of Frege and Russell. Isn’t it obvious that, for example, the clauses of a conditional are not asserted and must therefore be propositions and propositions the forceless contents of forceful acts? But, others have recently asked in (...) response, how can a proposition be a truth value bearer if it is not unified through the forceful act of a subject that takes a position regarding how things are? Can we not instead think of propositions as being inherently forceful, but of force as being cancelled in certain contexts? And what do indicators of assertoric, but also of directive and interrogative force mean? (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 Although in recent years Christine Ladd-Franklin has received recognition for her contributions to logic and psychology, her role in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century philosophy, as well as her relationship with American pragmatism, has yet to be fully appreciated. My goal here is to attempt to better understand Ladd-Franklin’s place in the pragmatist tradition by drawing attention to her work on the nature and unity of the proposition. The question concerning the unity of the proposition – namely, the problem (...) of how to determine what differentiates a mere collection of terms from a unified and meaningful proposition – received substantial attention in Ladd-Franklin’s time, and would continue to interest analytic philosophers well into the twentieth century. I argue that Ladd-Franklin had a distinct theory of the proposition and solution to the problem of the unity of the proposition that she developed over the course of her writings on logic and philosophy. In spelling out her views, I will also show her work interacted with and influenced that of the pragmatist who was her greatest influence, C.S. Peirce. (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)
Propositions represent the entities from which they are formed. This fact has puzzled philosophers and some have put forward radical proposals in order to explain it. This paper develops a primitivist account of the representational properties of propositions that centers on the operation of application. As we will see, this theory wins out over its competitors on grounds of strength, systematicity and unifying power.
The distinction between content and force is ‘a corner-stone of 20-century philosophy of language’ (Recanati 2013, 622). Yet, in recent years it has been argued that (a) the motivation for drawing the content-force distinction is flawed and (b) that making it bars us from solving the problem of the unity of the proposition. In this paper I will go back to the source of the content-force distinction in Frege’s work. Frege argued that ‘the nature of a question’ requires a distinction (...) between force and content. I will reconstruct and defend Frege’s argument for the distinction and outline how the content-force distinction can be combined with a Fregean account of the unity of thought. (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)
We think of the world as consisting of objects, with properties and standing in relations. There are, to be sure, different views on what objects etc. there are, and on what their natures are. And some theorists want to subtract some elements from this picture. For example, the ontological nihilist says that there are no objects. But still, the view described is very much orthodoxy—so much orthodoxy that one may need to be reminded that the view that the world consists (...) of objects, with properties and standing in relations is, precisely, a view. I here investigate the possibility that this view is false: that there is what may be called alien structure. And I investigate the relationship between alien structure and some important themes from the history of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
The problem, or cluster of problems, of the unity of the proposition, along with the cluster of problems that tend to go under the name of Bradley’s regress, has recently again become a going concern for philosophers, after having for some time been regarded as primarily of historical interest. In this paper, I distinguish between the different problems that tend to be brought up under the heading of the unity of the proposition, and between different related regress arguments. I present (...) my favored solutions to these problems. (shrink)
We present here the papers selected for the volume on the Unity of Propositions problems. After summarizing what the problems are, we locate them in a spectrum from those aiming to provide substantive, reductive explanations, to those with a more deflationary take on the problems.
The paper contains a general argument for linguistic idealism, which it approaches by way of some considerations relating to the unity of the proposition and Tractarian metaphysics. Language exhibits a function–argument structure, but does it do so because it is reflecting how things are in the world, or does the relation of dependence run in the other direction? The paper argues that the general structure of the world is asymmetrically dependent on a metaphysically prior fact about language, namely that it (...) exhibits subject–predicate structure. (shrink)
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 (...) entities such as facts, types of mental or linguistic acts, and even properties. But we think that the metaphysical story about propositions is much simpler than either the classical theorist or the revisionist would have you believe. In what follows, we argue that a proper understanding of the nature of our cognitive relations to propositions shows that the question of whether propositions themselves represent is, at best, a distraction. We will argue that once this distraction is removed, the possibility of a very pleasing, minimalist story of propositions emerges; a story that appeals only to assumptions that are shared by all theorists in the relevant debate. (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)
This paper addresses the mereological problem of the unity of structured propositions. The problem is how to make multiple parts interact such that they form a whole that is ultimately related to truth and falsity. The solution I propose is based on a Platonist variant of procedural semantics. I think of procedures as abstract entities that detail a logical path from input to output. Procedures are modeled on a function/argument logic, but are not functions. Instead they are higher-order, fine-grained structures. (...) I identify propositions with particular kinds of molecular procedures containing multiple sub-procedures as parts. Procedures are among the basic entities of my ontology, while propositions are derived entities. The core of a structured proposition is the procedure of predication, which is an instance of the procedure of functional application. The main thesis I defend is that procedurally conceived propositions are their own unifiers detailing how their parts interact so as to form a unit. They are not unified by one of their constituents, e.g., a relation or a sub-procedure, on pain of regress. The relevant procedural semantics is Transparent Intensional Logic, a hyperintensional, typed λ-calculus, whose λ-terms express four different kinds of procedures. While demonstrating how the theory works, I place my solution in a wider historical and systematic context. (shrink)
The standard argument against ordered tuples as propositions is that it is arbitrary what truth-conditions they should have. In this paper we generalize that argument. Firstly, we require that propositions have truth-conditions intrinsically. Secondly, we require strongly equivalent truth-conditions to be identical. Thirdly, we provide a formal framework, taken from Graph Theory, to characterize structure and structured objects in general. The argument in a nutshell is this: structured objects are too fine-grained to be identical to truth-conditions. Without identity, there is (...) no privileged mapping from structured objects to truth-conditions, and hence structured objects do not have truth-conditions intrinsically. Therefore, propositions are not structured objects. (shrink)
Renewed worries about the unity of the proposition have been taken as a crucial stumbling block for any traditional conception of propositions. These worries are often framed in terms of how entities independent of mind and language can have truth conditions: why is the proposition that Desdemona loves Cassio true if and only if she loves him? I argue that the best understanding of these worries shows that they should be solved by our theory of truth and not our theory (...) of content. Specifically, I propose a version of the redundancy theory according to which ‘it is true that Desdemona loves Cassio’ expresses the same proposition as ‘Desdemona loves Cassio’. Surprisingly, this variant of the redundancy theory treats ‘is true’ as an ordinary predicate of the language, thereby defusing many standard criticisms of the redundancy theory. (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)
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.
1. La estructura como problema filosófico 2. Teorías metafísicas de la estructura 2.1. La concepción intrínseca de la estructura 2.2. Como parte sui-generis 2.3. La concepción extrínseca de la estructura 3. Conclusiones Referencias.
Husserl’s Logical Grammar is intended to explain how complex expressions can be constructed out of simple ones so that their meaning turns out to be determined by the meanings of their constituent parts and the way they are put together. Meanings are thus understood as structured contents and classified into formal categories to the effect that the logical properties of expressions reflect their grammatical properties. As long as linguistic meaning reduces to the intentional content of pre-linguistic representations, however, it is (...) not trivial to account for how semantics relates to syntax in this context. In this paper, I analyze Husserl’s Logical Grammar as a system of recursive rules operating on representations and suggest that the syntactic form of representations contributes to their semantics because it carries information about semantic role. I further discuss Husserl’s syntactic account of the unity of propositions and argue that, on this account, logical form supervenes on syntactic form. In the last section I draw some implications for the phenomenology of thought and conjecture that the structural features it displays are likely to convey the syntactic structures of an underlying language-like representational system. (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)
Back in the Good Old Days of Logical Positivism, theories of meaning were part of a normative project that sought not merely to describe the features of language and its use, but so to speak to separate the wheat from the chaff. In this paper, I side with Herman Cappelen (2013) in thinking that we need to rethink and reintroduce the important distinction between sense and nonsense that was ditched along with other normative aspirations during Logical Positivism’s spectacular demise. Despite (...) this, my delineation of the bounds of sense is different from Cappelen’s. One of my goals in the present paper is to argue that category mistakes are paradigmatic examples of nonsensical sentences. To this end I describe one candidate for what it might be that makes category mistakes nonsensical. (shrink)
This paper evaluates the argument for the contradictoriness of unity, that be- gins Priest’s recent book One. The argument is seen to fail because it does not adequately differentiate between different forms of unity. This diagnosis of the argument’s failure is used as a basis for two consistent accounts of unity. The paper concludes by arguing that reality contains two absolutely fundamental and unanalysable forms of unity, which are in principle presupposed by any theory of anything. These fundamental forms of (...) unity are closely related to the unity of propositions and facts. (shrink)
This paper identifies a tension in Frege’s philosophy and offers a diagnosis of its origins. Frege’s Context Principle can be used to dissolve the problem of propositional unity. However, Frege’s official response to the problem does not invoke the Context Principle, but the distinction between ‘saturated’ and ‘unsaturated’ propositional constituents. I argue that such a response involves assumptions that clash with the Context Principle. I suggest, however, that this tension is not generated by deep-seated philosophical commitments, but by Frege’s occasional (...) attempt to take a dubious shortcut in the justification of his conception of propositional structure. (shrink)
I want to motivate an account of what it is for an object to have a property, which may as well be called a deflationary view about properties. Such a view follows from a conception of predication I ground in the work of Donald Davidson, some of which remains unpublished. I claim that if we take seriously Davidson’s account of predication, by maintaining that sentences are the primary linguistic unit, we can define properties in terms of predicates. The aim of (...) this paper is twofold. First, I argue that this account is present in Davidson’s systematic treatment of the problem of predication. Second, I claim that this account is serviceable and economical, as it can accommodate a wide scope of properties and abstract objects without appealing to entities such as truthmakers or joints in nature. (shrink)
Frege proposed his doctrine of unsaturatedness as a solution to the problems of the unity of the proposition and the unity of the sentence. I show that Frege’s theory is mystical, ad hoc, ineffective, paradoxical and entails that singular terms cannot be predicates. I explain the traditional solution to the problem of the unity of the sentence, as expounded by Mill, which invokes a syncategorematic sign of predication and the connotation and denotation of terms. I streamline this solution, bring it (...) up to date and contrast the resulting conventionalist account with Frege’s unsaturatedness account. I argue that the conventionalist account provides a clear and intelligible solution to the problem of the unity of the sentence which is free of the defects of Frege’s account. I suggest that the problem of the unity of the proposition is spurious. I recommend that the notion of unsaturatedness be extruded from serious debate. (shrink)
Bertrand Russell and the Nature of Propositions offers the first book-length defence of the Multiple Relation Theory of Judgement (MRTJ). Although the theory was much maligned by Wittgenstein and ultimately rejected by Russell himself, Lebens shows that it provides a rich and insightful way to understand the nature of propositional content. In Part I, Lebens charts the trajectory of Russell’s thought before he adopted the MRTJ. Part II reviews the historical story of the theory: What led Russell to deny the (...) existence of propositions altogether? Why did the theory keep evolving throughout its short life? What role did G. F. Stout play in the evolution of the theory? What was Wittgenstein’s concern with the theory, and, if we can’t know what his concern was exactly, then what are the best contending hypotheses? And why did Russell give the theory up? In Part III, Lebens makes the case that Russell’s concerns with the theory weren’t worth its rejection. Moreover, he argues that the MRTJ does most of what we could want from an account of propositions at little philosophical cost. This book bridges the history of early analytic philosophy with work in contemporary philosophy of language. It advances a bold reading of the theory of descriptions and offers a new understanding of the role of Stout and the representation concern in the evolution of the MRTJ. It also makes a decisive contribution to philosophy of language by demonstrating the viability of a no-proposition theory of propositions. (shrink)
Ever since Frege, propositions have played a central role in philosophy of language. Propositions are generally conceived as abstract objects that have truth conditions essentially and fulfill both the role of the meaning of sentences and of the objects or content of propositional attitudes. More recently, the abstract conception of propositions has given rise to serious dissatisfaction among a number of philosophers, who have instead proposed a conception of propositional content based on cognitive acts (Hanks, Moltmann, Soames). This approach is (...) not entirely new, though, but has important precedents in early analytic philosophy and phenomenology. The aim of this volume is bring together some of the most important texts from the relevant historical literature and new contributions from contemporary proponents of act-based conceptions of propositional content. (shrink)
Jeffrey King argues that nothing has truth conditions except by being taken to be true or false by rational agents. But – for good reason – King claims that propositions possess truth conditions essentially and intrinsically. I will argue that King cannot have both: if the truth conditions of a proposition depend on the reactions of rational agents, then the possession of truth conditions can't follow from the intrinsic nature or existence of the proposition. This leaves two options. Either, nothing (...) can do the job that motivates positing propositions. Or, there is no need to explain what bestows a truth condition on a proposition. (shrink)
A critical review of Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty' which he wrote in 1950-51 and was first published in 1969. Most of the review is spent presenting a modern framework for philosophy(the descriptive psychology of higher order thought) and positioning the work of Wittgenstein and John Searle in this framework and relative to the work of others. It is suggested that this book can be regarded as the foundation stone of psychology and philosophy as it was the first to describe the two (...) systems of thought and shows how our unshakable grasp of the world derives from our innate axiomatic System 1 and how this interacts with System 2. -/- Those wishing a comprehensive up to date framework for human behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my book ‘The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle’ 2nd ed (2019). Those interested in more of my writings may see ‘Talking Monkeys--Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet--Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 3rd ed (2019), The Logical Structure of Human Behavior (2019), and Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019). (shrink)
In this paper I present a new theory of propositions, according to which propositions are abstract mathematical objects: well-formed formulas together with models. I distinguish the theory from a number of existing views and explain some of its advantages chief amongst which are the following. On this view, propositions are unified and intrinsically truth-bearing. They are mind- and language-independent and they are governed by logic. The theory of propositions is ontologically innocent. It makes room for an appropriate interface with (...) formal semantics and it does not enforce an overly fine or overly coarse level of granularity. (shrink)