Reference is a central topic in philosophy of language, and has been the main focus of discussion about how language relates to the world. R. M. Sainsbury sets out a new approach to the concept, which promises to bring to an end some long-standing debates in semantic theory. Lucid and accessible, and written with a minimum of technicality, Sainsbury's book also includes a useful historical survey. It will be of interest to those working in logic, mind, and metaphysics as well (...) as essential reading for philosophers of language. (shrink)
When are two tokens of a name tokens of the same name? According to this paper, the answer is a matter of the historical connections between the tokens. For each name, there is a unique originating event, and subsequent tokens are tokens of that name only if they derive in an appropriate way from that originating event. The conditions for a token being a token of a given name are distinct from the conditions for preservation of the reference of a (...) name. Hence a name may change its reference. Defending the theory requires considerations about the identity of acts, and about empty names and disagreement. The upshot is a causal theory of the identity of names, but not what would normally be counted as a causal theory of the reference of names. Although reference is often transmitted causally, what determines semantic reference is conventionalized speaker-reference. (shrink)
There are problems both with the supposition that ‘fish’ was once used with a meaning that includes whales, and with the supposition that it has always been used with a meaning that excludes them. The problems are illustrated by a trial in 1818 in which the jury ruled that whales are fish.
Logical Forms explains both the detailed problems involved in finding logical forms and also the theoretical underpinnings of philosophical logic. In this revised edition, exercises are integrated throughout the book. The result is a genuinely interactive introduction which engages the reader in developing the argument. Each chapter concludes with updated notes to guide further reading.
I discuss Soames's proposal that Moore could have avoided a central problem in his moral philosophy if he had utilized a method he himself pioneered in epistemology. The problem in Moore's moral philossophy concerns what it is for a moral claim to be self-evident. The method in Moore's epistemology concerns not denying the obvious. In view of the distance between something's being self-evident and its being obvious, it is suggested that Soames's proposal is mistaken.
Frege is now regarded as one of the world's greatest philosophers, and the founder of modern logic. Mark Sainsbury argues that we must depart considerably from Frege's views if we are to work towards an adequate conception of natural language. This is an outstanding contribution to philosophy of language and logic and will be invaluable to all those interested in Frege and the philosophy of language.
Vagueness demands many boundaries. Each is permissible, in that a thinker may without error use it to distinguish objects, though none is mandatory. This is revealed by a thought experiment—scrambled sorites—in which objects from a sorites series are presented in a random order, and subjects are required to make their judgments without access to any previous objects or their judgments concerning them.
There is no straightforward inference from there being fictional characters to any interesting form of realism. One reason is that “fictional” may be an intensional operator with wide scope, depriving the quantifier of its usual force. Another is that not all uses of “there are” are ontologically committing. A realist needs to show that neither of these phenomena are present in “There are fictional characters”. Other roads to realism run into difficulties when negotiating the role that presupposition plays when we (...) make intuitive evaluations of the truth or falsehood of sentences involving fiction, for we may presuppose things we do not believe. This means that a judgment of truth, implicitly relative to a presupposition we do not believe, can be sincerely made by someone who, from a more austere perspective, would regard the judgment as false. (shrink)
This discusses the kind of paradox that has since become known as "the forced march sorites", here called "the transition question". The question is whether this is really a new kind of paradox, or the familiar sorites in unfamiliar garb. The author argues that resources adequate to deal with ordinary sorites are sufficient to deal with the transition question, and tentatively proposes an affirmative answer.
Rational dialetheism is the view that for some contradictions, it is rational to believe that they are true. The view, associated with the work of among others, Graham Priest, looks as if it must lead to absurd consequences, and the present paper is an unsuccessful attempt to find them. In particular, I suggest that there is no non-question-begging account of acceptance, denial and negation which can be brought to bear against the rational dialetheist. Finally, I consider the prospect of attacking (...) the position without trying to "refute" it, but even these approaches seem unpromising in the present case. If the drift of the paper is correct, the only strategy is to examine the paradoxes one by one, and show in each case that the best account is non-dialetheic. (shrink)
one hand, it raises fundamental doubts about the Davidsonian project, which seems to involve isolating specifically semantic knowledge from any other knowledge or skill in a way reflected by the ideal of homophony. Indexicality forces a departure from this ideal, and so from the aspiration of deriving the truth conditions of an arbitrary utterance on the basis simply of axioms which could hope to represent purely semantic knowledge. In defence of Davidson, I argue that once his original idea for dealing (...) with the familiar indexical expressions is suitably implemented, in terms of theorems expressing conditional truth-conditions, the contrast between semantic and nonsemantic knowledge occurs in an appropriate place: between knowledge of the conditional truth conditions themselves (semantic), and knowledge of their antecedents (non-semantic). For example, a simplified version of a conditional truth condition for an utterance u of “That is a cat” will say that for all x, if the utterer in uttering “that” in u thereby referred to x, u is true iff x is a cat. The conditional fact belongs to semantic knowledge; non-semantic knowledge is required to work out what the utterer referred to; the two kinds of knowledge conspire to enable a truth condition to be detached. The other kind of worry relates to difficult technical questions, relating to specific idioms, raised by context-dependence. I consider whether an argument by Travis (2006), designed to establish that there can be no correct truth conditional semantics, can be turned on its head, and used to establish a general method for bringing all forms of context-dependence within Davidsonʼs framework (using quantification into the qualifier “on understanding U”). I argue that this will not work, and that we are committed to a piecemeal examination of various cases, of which I give some examples. One of these relates directly to Travisʼs argument concerning the context-dependence of “grunt”. In addition, Davidsonians need to have a sharp eye for the distinction between pragmatic and semantic content, to be specified by a test akin to Griceʼs notion of cancelability; they should treat sentences like “Itʼs raining” by the conditional truth-condition method; and they should treat possessives as semantically very unspecific. It is part of the thesis of the paper that this list of examples by no means exhausts the cases a Davidsonian needs to address. (shrink)
Hume seems to tell us that our ideas are copies of our corresponding impres-sions, that we have an idea of necessary connection, but that we have no corresponding impression, since nothing can be known to be really necessarily connected. The paper considers two ways of reinterpreting the doctrine of the origins of ideas so as to avoid the apparent inconsistency. If we see the doctrine as concerned primarily with establishing conditions under which we possess an idea, there is no need (...) for an idea’s “corresponding” impression to be one of which the idea is true. It would be enough that the impression be in some way appropriate for making us master of the idea. Alternatively, if we see the doctrine as concerned primarily with fixing the content of ideas, we might see it operating in the case of causation rather as it must in the case of secondary qualities, conceived in a certain distinctive way. Even if there is “really” no red in the objects , we may regard the idea of red as properly ascribed to any object apt to cause typical sensations in us . Likewise, we may regard the idea of necessary connection as properly ascribed to any pair of objects apt to cause typical habits in us . This view may do justice to Hume’s wish to affirm both that there is such a thing as necessity, resident in the mind, and that there are no knowable necessary connections.Hume parece nos dizer que nossas idéias são cópias de nossas impressões correspondentes, que temos uma idéia de conexão necessária, mas que não temos nenhuma impressão correspondente, visto que nada pode ser conhecido como estando realmente conectado necessariamente. O artigo considera dois modos de se reinterpretar a doutrina das origens das idéias de forma a evitar a aparente inconsistência. Se interpretarmos a doutrina como dizendo respeito fundamentalmente ao estabelecimento das condições sob as quais possuímos uma idéia, não há nenhuma necessidade de uma impressão “correspondente” da idéia ser aquela da qual a idéia é verdadeira. Seria suficiente que a impressão fosse, de alguma maneira, apropriada para que apreendêssemos a idéia. Caso contrário, se interpretarmos a doutrina como interessada fundamentalmente em fixar o conteúdo das idéias, poderíamos ver isto como operando no caso de causação mais propriamente que no caso de qualidades secundárias, concebido de certo modo característico. Mesmo que “realmente” não exista vermelho nos objetos , nós podemos considerar a idéia de vermelho como bem aplicada a qualquer objeto capaz de causar sensações típicas em nós . Igualmente, podemos considerar a idéia de conexão necessária como bem aplicada a qualquer par de objetos apropriado para nos causar hábitos típicos . Esta visão pode fazer justiça à intenção de Hume de afirmar tanto que há tal coisa como necessidade, residente na mente, como que não há nenhuma relação necessária que se possa conhecer. (shrink)
Could it be that one morally ought to do something morally bad? Some people think the answer is obviously ‘No’. Indeed, these theorists may say, it is contradictory to suppose that one morally ought to do something morally bad. Others hold that it is not a contradiction but a sad fact of life that one may be morally required to do something morally bad. This latter position is the one I'll be supporting. If it's the right view, it really matters (...) in practical affairs. For example, almost everyone would agree that it's morally bad to kill an innocent fetus. But this does not settle the question of whether one morally ought to have an abortion, if it can be morally required that one do something morally bad. (shrink)
Evans envisaged a language containing both Russellian and descriptive names. A language with descriptive names, which can contribute to truth conditions even if they have no bearer, needs a free logical truth theory. But a metalanguage with this logic threatens to emasculate Russellian names. The paper details this problem and shows, on Evans's behalf, how it might be resolved.
The paper focuses on two apparent paradoxes arising from our use of intensional verbs: first, their object can be something which does not exist, i.e. something which is nothing; second, the fact that entailment from a qualified to a non-qualified object is not guaranteed. In this paper, I suggest that the problems share a solution, insofar as they arise in connection with intensional verbs that ascribe mental states. The solution turns on (I) a properly intensional or nonrelational notion of representation (...) and (II) a notion of “putting a representation on display”. (shrink)
Mark Sainsbury presents an original account of how language works when describing mental states, based on a new theory of what is involved in attributing attitudes like thinking, hoping, and wanting. He offers solutions to longstanding puzzles about how we can direct our thought to such a diversity of things, including things that do not exist.
The paper reviews some conceptions of logical form in the light of Andrea Iacona’s book Logical Form. I distinguish the following: logical form as schematization of natural language, provided by, for example, Aristotle’s syllogistic; the relevance to logical form of formal languages like those used by Frege and Russell to express and prove mathematical theorems; Russell’s mid-period conception of logical form as the structural cement binding propositions; the conceptions of logical form discussed by Iacona; and logical form regarded as an (...) empirical hypothesis about the psychology of language processing, as in the Discourse Representation Theory tradition. Whereas neither schematization, nor the use of special languages for mathematics, raise general methodological or empirical difficulties, other conceptions of logical form raise at least apparent problems. (shrink)