If I say that Alice is everything Oscar hopes to be, I seem to be quantifying over properties. That suggestion faces an immediate difficulty, however: though Alice may be wise, she surely is not the property of being wise. This problem can be framed in terms of a substitution failure: if a predicate like ‘happy’ denoted a property, we would expect pairs like ‘Oscar is happy’ and ‘Oscar is the property of being happy’ to be equivalent, which they clearly are (...) not. I argue that a Fregean response that draws a distinction between objects and concepts faces serious difficulties, and that a syntactic solution to the substitution problem likewise fails. I propose to account for the substitution failure by instead distinguishing different ways that expressions can stand for properties: whereas ‘the property of being happy’ refers to a property, ‘happy’ expresses or ascribes that property. I go on to compare this view to proposals made by Wright and Liebesman, and end by drawing out a consequence my proposal has for a debate about the ontological commitments of predicatively quantified sentences. (shrink)
Cumming (2008) argues that his Masked Ball problem undermines Millianism, and that we must instead treat names as variables. However, although the Masked Ball does pose a problem for the Millian given a standard view about the meaning of `believes', that view faces difficulties for independent reasons. I develop a novel ``neo Kaplanian'' attitude semantics to address this problem, and go on to show that with this alternative semantics in hand, the Millian is quite capable of accounting for the Masked (...) Ball. (shrink)
Yli-Vakkuri argues that content externalism can be established without thought experiments, as the deductive consequence of a pair of uncontroversial principles about beliefs, contents and truth. I argue that the most dialectically plausible motivation for the first principle, that truth is a broad property or beliefs, undermines the second principle, that the truth-value of a belief goes hand-in-hand with that of its content, and that other motivations are likely to depend on externalist thought experiments the argument was meant to avoid. (...) As it stands, the argument for externalism therefore fails. (shrink)
Propositions are generally thought to have a truth-value only relative to some parameter or sequence of parameters. Many apparently straightforward notions, like what it is to disagree or retain a belief, become harder to explain once propositional truth is thus relativized. An account of disagreement within a framework involving such ‘stoic’ propositions is here presented. Some resources developed in that account are then used to respond to the eternalist charge that temporalist propositions can't function as belief contents because they don't (...) allow us to make adequate sense of what belief retention amounts to. (shrink)
ABSTRACTFregeans hold that predicates denote things, albeit things different in kind from what singular terms denote. This leads to a familiar problem: it seems impossible to say what any given predicate denotes. One strategy for avoiding this problem reduces the Fregean position to form of nominalism. I develop an alternative strategy that lets the Fregean hold on to the view that predicate denote things by reconceiving the nature of singular denotation and of Fregean objects.
The Fregean analysis of definite descriptions as referring expressions predicts that copular sentences with definite descriptions in postcopular position are invariably interpreted as identity statements. But as numerous diagnostics show, such sentences are frequently capable of receiving a predicational reading. A uniform Fregean analysis therefore won’t do. Things aren’t that simple, however. I show that descriptions which exhibit the structure [the + N + of + Proper Name] fall into two semantically distinct classes, and that the members of one of (...) these classes of descriptions (those I call “identifying”) pattern with proper names in resisting a predicative reading. I argue that a proposal according to which referring expressions can quite generally undergo a type shift that transforms them into predicates thus fails on grounds of overgeneration. I propose that we can account for the data by instead appealing to two definite determiners: a Fregean determiner ‘the r ’ which forms referring descriptions, and a determiner ‘the p ’ which forms predicative descriptions. I argue that this proposal also correctly predicts that copular sentences with proper names in postcopular position fail to have a predicational reading. I conclude the paper by defending the analysis of names to which I appeal against an alternative view inspired by Burge (J Philos 70(14):425–439, 1973), and suggest a way in which the desired results could be achieved while making do with a single definite article. (shrink)
Formal semantic theories are generally thought to make contact with pre-theoretic semantic notions of aboutness and reference. The nature of that contact is, however, not always straightforward. This paper addresses two debates where that issue assumes a significant role. I begin with Simchen’s recent argument that Lewisian Interpretationism succumbs to referential indeterminacy. I develop a proposal about the relationship between the theoretical notion of a term’s semantic value and the pre-theoretic notion of reference, and argue that the indeterminacy Simchen identifies (...) does not constitute a form of referential indeterminacy. In the second part, I apply these resources to the debate between singularist and pluralist approaches to the semantics of plural terms, arguing that a certain form of singularism that emerges from the dialectic ends up agreeing with the pluralist at the level of reference, if not semantic value. The paper concludes with some remarks on what a properly referential style of singularism might look like. (shrink)
In Word and Object, Quine proposed that names be treated as the predicate elements of covert descriptions, expressing the property of being identical to the named individual. More recently, many theorists have proposed a predicativist view according which a referential name expresses the property of being called by that name. Whereas this Being-Called Predicativism has received much attention in the recent literature, Quinean Predicativism has not. This neglect is undeserved. In this paper, I argue, first, that close appositive constructions suggest (...) that names can function as predicates expressing identifying properties of the sort proposed by Quine, and, second, that a predicativist analysis which extends this view to referential names overcomes some of the central objections that have been raised against Being-Called Predicativism. (shrink)