Schiffer's Puzzle: A Kind of Fregean Response

In Gary Ostertag (ed.), Meanings and Other Things. Oxford University Press (2016)


In ‘What Reference Has to Tell Us about Meaning’, Stephen Schiffer argues that many of the objects of our beliefs, and the contents of our assertoric speech acts, have what he calls the relativity feature. A proposition has the relativity feature just in case it is an object-dependent proposition ‘the entertainment of which requires different people, or the same person at different times or places, to think of [the relevant object] in different ways’ (129). But as no Fregean or Russellian proposition can possibly have such a feature, we must either (i) give up on these traditional theories of propositional content in favor of an account that can allow for the relativity feature, or else (ii) explain why the things we believe, and say, oftentimes seem to have this feature even though they, in fact, do not. Schiffer pursues the former option; in this essay, I pursue the latter.

Download options


External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

56 (#207,018)

6 months
14 (#56,979)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
On Sense and Reference.Gottlob Frege - 1960 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing About Language. Routledge. pp. 36--56.
Logic, Meaning, and Conceptual Role.Hartry H. Field - 1977 - Journal of Philosophy 74 (7):378-409.
De Re Senses.John Mcdowell - 1984 - Philosophical Quarterly 34 (136):283-294.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

Content Pluralism.Alex Grzankowski & Ray Buchanan - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Direct Reference in Thought and Speech.Kirk A. Ludwig - 1993 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 26 (1):49-76.
An Argument Against Fregean That-Clause Semantics.Adam Pautz - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (3):335 - 347.
Fregean Reference Defended.Ernest Sosa - 1995 - Philosophical Issues 6:91-99.
The Indexical Character of Names.M. Pelczar & J. Rainsbury - 1998 - Synthese 114 (2):293-317.
Schiffer’s New Theory of Propositions. [REVIEW]Thomas Hofweber - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (1):211–217.
The Composition of Thoughts.Richard Heck & Robert May - 2011 - Noûs 45 (1):126-166.