Propositions: Truth vs. Existence

In James Maclaurin (ed.), Ratiois Defensor (2012)
Heather Dyke
University of Otago
I argue that there is an inherent tension in the notion of a proposition that gives us reason to doubt that there can be any single entity that plays all the roles and possesses all the features normally attributed to propositions. The tension is that some of the roles and features of propositions require them to be essentially representational, while others require them to be non-representational. I first present what I call the standard view of propositions: a series of theses outlining the roles they are normally thought to play and the features they are normally thought to possess. I then highlight a number of tensions inherent in the standard view. I illustrate how this very tension creates problems for some realist theories of propositions. I discuss the distinction between the truth of a proposition and its existence, and argue that paying heed to this distinction allows us to identify, and clear up, a particular confusion that leads us to posit propositions in the first place. Finally, I consider where a rejection of propositions leaves us, ontologically and theoretically.
Keywords Representational and Non-representational Propositions  Realism  Truth and Existence
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