Propositions, What Are They Good For?

In Richard Schantz (ed.), Prospects for Meaning (Current Issues in Theoretical Philosophy, Vol. 3). Walter de Gruyter (2012)
Stephen Schiffer
New York University
Although there is a vast literature on whether propositional attitudes are relations to propositions, a crucial question that ought to lie at the heart of this debate is not often enough seriously addressed. This is the question of the contribution propositions make to the ways in which we benefit from having our propositional-attitude concepts, if those concepts are concepts of relations to propositions. Unless propositions can be shown to confer a benefit that no non-propositions could provide, we should probably doubt whether propositional attitudes really are relations to propositions. I believe that propositional attitudes are relations to propositions and that the role played by them in our conceptual economy cannot be played by things of any other kind, and in this paper I try to say why. This paper, in other words, offers my answer to the question posed by my title.
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