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 Including a previously unpublished essay and a helpful new introduction to orient the reader, the volume offers rich and varied sustenance for philosophers and logicians.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Jeffrey King's principal objection to the direct-reference theory of demonstratives is analyzed and criticized. King has responded with a modified version of his original argument aimed at establishing the weaker conclusion that the direct-reference theory of demonstratives is either incomplete or incorrect. It is argued that this fallback argument also fails.
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)