Acts and Alternative Analyses

Journal of Philosophy 116 (4):181–205 (2019)
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Abstract

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.

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Arvid Båve
University of Lisbon

Citations of this work

Propositions as Structured Cognitive Event‐Types.Wayne A. Davis - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (3):665-692.
Concept Designation.Arvid Båve - 2019 - American Philosophical Quarterly 56 (4):331-344.
The Functional Composition of Sense.Bryan Pickel - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6917-6942.
Act‐type theories of propositions.Thomas Hodgson - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (11).

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References found in this work

Propositional Content.Peter Hanks - 2015 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
The nature and structure of content.Jeffrey C. King - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
What is Meaning?Scott Soames - 2010 - Princeton University Press.
New Thinking About Propositions.Jeffrey C. King, Scott Soames & Jeff Speaks - 2014 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. Edited by Scott Soames & Jeffrey Speaks.

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