The metaphysics of propositional constituency

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (5-6):655-678 (2013)
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Abstract

In this paper, I criticize Structured Propositionalism, the most widely held theory of the nature of propositions according to which they are structured entities with constituents. I argue that the proponents of Structured Propositionalism have paid insufficient attention to the metaphysical presuppositions of the view – most egregiously, to the notion of propositional constituency. This is somewhat ironic, since the friends of structured propositions tend to argue as if the appeal to constituency gives their view a dialectical advantage. I criticize four different approaches to providing a metaphysics of propositional constituency: set-theoretic, mereological, hylomorphic, and structure-making. Finally, I consider the option of taking constituency in a deflationary, metaphysically ‘lightweight’ sense. I argue that, though invoking constituency in a lightweight sense may be useful for avoiding the ontological problems that plague the ‘heavyweight’ conception, it no longer proffers a dialectical advantage to Structured Propositionalism.

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Lorraine Juliano Keller
Saint Joseph's University of Pennsylvania

Citations of this work

Propositions on the Cheap.Alex Grzankowski & Ray Buchanan - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3159-3178.
Structured Propositions.Jeffrey C. King - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Functional Composition of Sense.Bryan Pickel - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6917-6942.
Theories of Meaning.Jeff Speaks - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
The Nature of Necessity.Alvin Plantinga - 1974 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.

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