The nature of the information content of declarative sentences is a central topic in the philosophy of language. The natural view that a sentence like "John loves Mary" contains information in which two individuals occur as constituents is termed the naive theory, and is one that has been abandoned by most contemporary scholars. This theory was refuted originally by philosopher Gottlob Frege. His argument that the naive theory did not work is termed Frege's puzzle, and his rival account of information (...) content is termed the orthodox theory. In this detailed study, Nathan Salmon defends a version of the naive theory and presents a proposal for its extension that provides a better picture of information content than the orthodox theory gives. He argues that a great deal of what has generally been taken for granted in the philosophy of language over the past few decades is either mistaken or unsupported, and consequently, much current research is focused on the wrong set of questions. Salmon dissolves Frege's puzzle as it is usually formulated and demonstrates how it can be reconstructed and strengthened to yield a more powerful objection to the naive theory. He then defends the naive theory against the new Frege puzzle by presenting an idea that yields both a surprisingly rich and powerful extension of the naive theory and a better picture of information content than that of the original orthodox theory. Nathan Salmon is Professor of Philosophy, University of California at Santa Barbara. A Bradford Book. (shrink)
Salmon's book is considered by some to be a classic in the philosophy of language movement known variously as the New Theory of Reference or the Direct Reference Theory, as well as in the metaphysics of essentialism that is related to this philosophy of language.
The concept of a proposition is important in several areas of philosophy and central to the philosophy of language. This collection of readings investigates many different philosophical issues concerning the nature of propositions and the ways they have been regarded through the years. Reflecting both the history of the topic and the range of contemporary views, the book includes articles from Bertrand Russell, Gottlob Frege, the Russell-Frege Correspondence, Alonzo Church, David Kaplan, John Perry, Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, Mark Richard, Scott (...) Soames, and Nathan Salmon. (shrink)
My title is meant to suggest a continuation of the sort of philosophical investigation into the nature of language and modality undertaken in Rudolf Carnap’s Meaning and Necessity and Saul Kripke’s Naming and Necessity. My topic belongs in a class with meaning and naming. It is demonstratives—that is, expressions like ‘that darn cat’ or the pronoun ‘he’ used deictically. A few philosophers deserve particular credit for advancing our understanding of demonstratives and other indexical words. Though Naming and Necessity is concerned (...) with proper names, not demonstratives, it opened wide a window that had remained mostly shut in Meaning and Necessity but that, thanks largely to Kripke, shall forevermore remain unbarred. Understanding of demonstrative semantics grew by a quantum leap in David Kaplan’s remarkable work, especially in his masterpiece “Demonstratives” together with its companion “Afterthoughts.” In contrast to the direct-reference propensities of these two contemporary figures, Gottlob Frege, with his uncompromisingly thoroughgoing intensionalism, shed important light on the workings of demonstratives in “Der Gedanke”—more specifically, in a few brief but insightful remarks from a single paragraph concerning tense and temporal indexicality. (shrink)
On Kripke’s intended definition, a term designates an object x rigidly if the term designates x with respect to every possible world in which x exists and does not designate anything else with respect to worlds in which x does not exist. Kripke evidently holds in Naming and Necessity, hereafter N&N (pp. 117–144, passim, and especially at 134, 139–140), that certain general terms – including natural-kind terms like ‘‘water’’ and ‘‘tiger’’, phenomenon terms like ‘‘heat’’ and ‘‘hot’’, and color terms like (...) ‘‘blue’’ – are rigid designators solely as a matter of philosophical semantics (independently of empirical, extra-linguistic facts). As a consequence, Kripke argues, identity statements involving these general terms are like identity statements involving proper names (e.g., ‘‘Clark Kent=Superman’’) in that, solely as a matter of philosophical semantics, they express necessary truths if they are true at all. But whereas it is reasonably clear what it is for a (first-order) singular term to designate, Kripke does not explicitly say what it is for a general term to designate. General terms are standardly treated in modern logic as predicates, usually monadic predicates. There are very forceful reasons – due independently to Church and Godel, and ultimately to Frege – for taking predicates to designate their semantic extensions. But insofar as the extension of the general term ‘‘tiger’’ is the class of actual tigers (or its characteristic function), it is clear that the term does not rigidly designate its extension, since the class of tigers in one possible world may differ from the class of tigers in another. What, then, is it for ‘‘tiger’’ to be rigid? (shrink)
Standard compositionality is the doctrine that the semantic content of a compound expression is a function of the semantic contents of the contentful component expressions. In 1954 Hilary Putnam proposed that standard compositionality be replaced by a stricter version according to which even sentences that are synonymously isomorphic (in the sense of Alonzo Church) are not strictly synonymous unless they have the same logical form. On Putnam’s proposal, the semantic content of a compound expression is a function of: (i) the (...) contentful component expressions; and (ii) the expression’s logical form. Kit Fine recently expanded and modified Putnam’s idea into a sweeping theory in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. The present paper is a detailed critique of Fine’s “semantic relationism.” Fine’s notion of coordination is explained in terms of the familiar pragmatic phenomenon of recognition. A serious error in Fine’s formal disproof of standard Millianism is exposed. It is demonstrated furthermore that Church’s original criticism of Putnam’s proposal can be extended to Fine’s semantic relationism. Finally, it is also demonstrated that the positive position Fine proffers to supplant standard Millianism is in fact exactly equivalent to standard Millianism, so that Fine’s overall position not only does not displace standard Millianism but is in fact inconsistent. (shrink)
We defend hylomorphism against Maegan Fairchild’s purported proof of its inconsistency. We provide a deduction of a contradiction from SH+, which is the combination of “simple hylomorphism” and an innocuous premise. We show that the deduction, reminiscent of Russell’s Paradox, is proof-theoretically valid in classical higher-order logic and invokes an impredicatively defined property. We provide a proof that SH+ is nevertheless consistent in a free higher-order logic. It is shown that the unrestricted comprehension principle of property abstraction on which the (...) purported proof of inconsistency relies is analogous to naïve unrestricted set-theoretic comprehension. We conclude that logic imposes a restriction on property comprehension, a restriction that is satisfied by the ramified theory of types. By extension, our observations constitute defenses of theories that are structurally similar to SH+, such as the theory of singular propositions, against similar purported disproofs. (shrink)
Metaphysics, Mathematics, and Meaning brings together Nathan Salmon's influential papers on topics in the metaphysics of existence, non-existence, and fiction; modality and its logic; strict identity, including personal identity; numbers and numerical quantifiers; the philosophical significance of Godel's Incompleteness theorems; and semantic content and designation. Including a previously unpublished essay and a helpful new introduction to orient the reader, the volume offers rich and varied sustenance for philosophers and logicians.
Although Professor Schiffer and I have many times disagreed, I share his deep and abiding commitment to argument as a primary philosophical tool. Regretting any communication failure that has occurred, I endeavor here to make clearer my earlier reply in “Illogical Belief” to Schiffer’s alleged problem for my version of Millianism.1 I shall be skeletal, however; the interested reader is encouraged to turn to “Illogical Belief” for detail and elaboration. I have argued that to bear a propositional attitude de re (...) is to bear that attitude toward the corresponding singular proposition, no more and no less. If this is right, then according to Millianism every instance of the following modal schema is true. (shrink)
The “somewhat vague, intuitive” notion from computability theory of an effective procedure (method) or algorithm can be fairly precisely defined even if it is not sufficiently formal and precise to belong to mathematics proper (in a narrow sense)—and even if (as many have asserted) for that reason the Church–Turing thesis is unprovable. It is proved logically that the class of effective procedures is not decidable, i.e., that there is no effective procedure for ascertaining whether a given procedure is effective. This (...) result is proved directly from the notion itself of an effective procedure, without reliance on any (partly) mathematical lemma, conjecture, or thesis invoking recursiveness or Turing-computability. In fact, there is no reliance on anything very mathematical. The proof does not even appeal to a precise definition of ‘effective procedure’. Instead, it relies solely and entirely on a basic grasp of the intuitive notion of an effective procedure. Though the result that effectiveness is undecidable is not surprising, it is also not without significance. It has the consequence, for example, that the solution to a decision problem, if it is to be complete, must be accompanied by a separate argument that the proposed ascertainment procedure invariably terminates with the correct verdict. (shrink)
A detailed interpretation is provided of the ‘Gray's Elegy’ passage in Russell's ‘On Denoting’. The passage is suffciently obscure that its principal lessons have been independently rediscovered. Russell attempts to demonstrate that the thesis that definite descriptions are singular terms is untenable. The thesis demands a distinction be drawn between content and designation, but the attempt to form a proposition directly about the content (as by using an appropriate form of quotation) inevitably results in a proposition about the thing designated (...) instead of the content expressed. In light of this collapse, argues Russell, the thesis that definite descriptions are singular terms must accept that all propositions about a description's content represent it by means of a higher-level descriptive content, so that knowledge of a description's content is always ‘by description’, not ‘by acquaintance’. This, according to Russell, renders our cognitive grip on definite descriptions inexplicable. Separate responses on behalf of Fregeans and Millians are offered. (shrink)
A distinction is drawn among predicates, open sentences (or open formulas), and general terms, including general-term phrases. Attaching a copula, perhaps together with an article, to a general term yields a predicate. Predicates can also be obtained through lambda-abstraction on an open sentence. The issue of designation and semantic content for each type of general expression is investigated. It is argued that the designatum of a general term is a universal, e.g., a kind, whereas the designatum of a predicate is (...) a class (or its characteristic function) and the designatum of an open sentence is a truth-value. Predicates and open sentences are therefore typically non-rigid designators. It is argued further that certain general terms, including phrases, are invariably rigid designators, whereas certain others (general definite descriptions) are typically non-rigid. Suitable semantic contents for predicates, open sentences, and general terms are proposed. Consequences for the thesis of compositionality are drawn. (shrink)
A Russellian notion of what it is for a proposition to be “directly about” something in particular is defined. Various strong and weak, and mediate and immediate, Russellian notions of general aboutness are then defined in terms of Russellian direct aboutness. In particular, a proposition is about something iff the proposition is either directly, or strongly indirectly, about that thing. A competing Russellian account, due to Kaplan, is criticized through a distinction between knowledge by description and denoting by description. The (...) epistemological significance of Russellian aboutness is assessed. A Russellian substitute for de re propositional attitude is considered. (shrink)
A paradox about sets of properties is presented. The paradox, which invokes an impredicatively defined property, is formalized in a free third-order logic with lambda-abstraction, through a classically proof-theoretically valid deduction of a contradiction from a single premise to the effect that every property has a unit set. Something like a model is offered to establish that the premise is, although classically inconsistent, nevertheless consistent, so that the paradox discredits the logic employed. A resolution through the ramified theory of types (...) is considered. Finally, a general scheme that generates a family of analogous paradoxes and a generally applicable resolution are proposed. (shrink)
Nathan Salmon presents a selection of nineteen of his essays from the early 1980s to 2006, on a set of closely connected topics central to analytic philosophy. The book is divided into four thematic sections, on direct reference, apriority, belief, and the distinction between semantics and pragmatics.
Kit Fine has replied to my criticism of a technical objection he had given to the version of Millianism that I advocate. Fine evidently objects to my use of classical existential instantiation in an object-theoretic rendering of his meta-proof. Fine’s reply appears to involve both an egregious misreading of my criticism and a significant logical error. I argue that my rendering is unimpeachable, that the issue over my use of classical EI is a red herring, and that Fine’s original argument (...) commits the straw-man fallacy. I argue further that contrary to Fine’s gratuitous attribution, what Kripke’s Pierre lacks and a typical bilingual has is not knowledge of a “manifest-making” premise, but the capacity to recognize London when it is differently designated. Fine’s argument refutes a preposterous theory no one advocates while leaving standard Millianism unscathed. The failure of his argument threatens to render Fine’s central notion of “coordination” redundant or empty. (shrink)
This article offers an interpretation of a controversial aspect of Frege’s The Foundations of Arithmetic, the so-called Julius Caesar problem. Frege raises the Caesar problem against proposed purely logical definitions for ‘0’, ‘successor’, and ‘number’, and also against a proposed definition for ‘direction’ as applied to lines in geometry. Dummett and other interpreters have seen in Frege’s criticism a demanding requirement on such definitions, often put by saying that such definitions must provide a criterion of identity of a certain kind. (...) These interpretations are criticized and an alternative interpretation is defended. The Caesar problem is that the proposed definitions fail to well-define ‘number’ and ‘direction’. That is, the proposed definitions, even when taken together with the extra-definitional facts, fail to fix unique semantic extensions for ‘number’ and ‘direction’, and thereby fail to fix unique truth-values for sentences like ‘Caesar is a number’ and ‘England is a direction’. A minor modification of the criticized definitions well-defines ‘0’, ‘successor’ and ‘number’, thereby avoiding the Caesar problem as Frege understands it, but without providing any criterion of number identity in the usual sense. (shrink)