Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (6):1249-1291 (2021)

Peter Fritz
Australian Catholic University
Harvey Lederman
Princeton University
Gabriel Uzquiano
University of Southern California
According to the structured theory of propositions, if two sentences express the same proposition, then they have the same syntactic structure, with corresponding syntactic constituents expressing the same entities. A number of philosophers have recently focused attention on a powerful argument against this theory, based on a result by Bertrand Russell, which shows that the theory of structured propositions is inconsistent in higher order-logic. This paper explores a response to this argument, which involves restricting the scope of the claim that propositions are structured, so that it does not hold for all propositions whatsoever, but only for those which are expressible using closed sentences of a given formal language. We call this restricted principle Closed Structure, and show that it is consistent in classical higher-order logic. As a schematic principle, the strength of Closed Structure is dependent on the chosen language. For its consistency to be philosophically significant, it also needs to be consistent in every extension of the language which the theorist of structured propositions is apt to accept. But, we go on to show, Closed Structure is in fact inconsistent in a very natural extension of the standard language of higher-order logic, which adds resources for plural talk of propositions. We conclude that this particular strategy of restricting the scope of the claim that propositions are structured is not a compelling response to the argument based on Russell’s result, though we note that for some applications, for instance to propositional attitudes, a restricted thesis in the vicinity may hold some promise.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10992-021-09598-5
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and Other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
The Principles of Mathematics.Bertrand Russell - 1903 - Cambridge, England: Allen & Unwin.
To Be F Is To Be G.Cian Dorr - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):39-134.
Uber Sinn und Bedeutung.Gottlob Frege - 1892 - Zeitschrift für Philosophie Und Philosophische Kritik 100 (1):25-50.

View all 42 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Classicism.Andrew Bacon & Cian Dorr - forthcoming - In Peter Fritz & Nicholas K. Jones (eds.), Higher-order Metaphysics. Oxford University Press.
Essence and Necessity.Andreas Ditter - 2022 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 51 (3):653-690.
Reply to Speaks.Juhani Yli-Vakkuri & John Hawthorne - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (9):3061-3065.
Ramified structure.Gabriel Uzquiano - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-24.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Structured Propositions and Sentence Structure.Jeffrey King - 1996 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 25 (5):495 - 521.
Cutting It (Too) Fine.John Collins - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 169 (2):143-172.
Reality is Not Structured.Jeremy Goodman - 2017 - Analysis 77 (1):43–53.
Propositions, Representation, and Truth.Geoff Georgi - 2019 - Synthese 196 (3):1019-1043.
The Nature and Structure of Content.Jeffrey C. King - 2007 - New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Compositionality and Structured Propositions.Lorraine Juliano Keller & John A. Keller - 2013 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 2 (4):313-323.
A Theory of Structured Propositions.Andrew Bacon - forthcoming - Philosophical Review.
Singular Propositions and Modal Logic.Christopher Menzel - 1993 - Philosophical Topics 21 (2):113-148.


Added to PP index

Total views
178 ( #66,910 of 2,519,292 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
91 ( #8,097 of 2,519,292 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes