Synthese 191 (18):4431-4450 (2014)

Delia Belleri
University of Vienna
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 thoughts, and we can even safely say that, generally, thoughts are effable. In order to defend this insight, I first counter the thesis of the propositionality of thought by bringing some counterexamples to it, which amount to cases of non-fully propositional thought. I then argue that, if thoughts can be and often are non-fully propositional, they can be expressed by sentences that fail to fully express a proposition. I also show that the propositional thoughts that we can entertain are after all effable (in a suitable, relevant sense) and resist some alleged examples of insurmountable ineffability.
Keywords Effability  Ineffability  Semantic under-determinacy  Propositions  Thoughts
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0537-8
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Literal Meaning.François Recanati - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
Relevance.D. Sperber & D. Wilson - 1995 - Blackwell.

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