Abstract According to Russellianism, the content of a Russellian thought, in which a person ascribes a monadic property to an object, can be represented as an ordered couple of the object and the property. A consequence of this is that it is not possible for a person to believe that a is F and not to believe b is F, when a=b. Many critics of Russellianism suppose that this is possible and thus that Russellianism is false. Several (...) arguments for this claim are criticized and it is argued that Russellians need not appeal to representational notions in order to defeat them. Contrary to popular opinion, the prospects for a pure Russellianism, a Russellianism without representations, are in fact very good. (shrink)
(1) Harry believes that Twain is a writer. (2) Harry believes that Clemens is a writer. I say that this is Russellianism's most notorious consequence because it is so often used to argue against the view: many philosophers think that it is obvious that (1) and (2) can differ in truth value, and so they conclude that Russellianism is false. Let's call this the Substitution Objection to Russellianism.
Russellianism (also called `neo-Russellianism, `Millianism, and `thenaive theory') entails that substitution of co-referring names inattitude ascriptions preserves truth value and proposition expressed.Thus, on this view, if Lucy wants Twain to autograph her book, thenshe also wants Clemens to autograph her book, even if she says ``I donot want Clemens to autograph my book''. Some philosophers (includingMichael Devitt and Mark Richard) claim that attitude ascriptions canbe used to predict behavior, but argue that if Russellianism weretrue, then this would (...) not be so. They conclude that Russellianism isfalse. I defend Russellianism from this objection. I present severalanalyses of ``sentence S can be used to predict event E''. I arguethat, on each of these analyses, attitude ascriptions can be used topredict behavior, even if Russellianism is true. Furthermore, if myarguments are incorrect, and attitude ascriptions cannot be used topredict behavior under Russellianism, then Russellians can explainaway the intuition that they can be so used. (shrink)
Many philosophers think that the Substitution Objection decisively refutes Russellianism. This objection claims that sentences (1) and (2) can differ in truth value. Therefore, it says, the sentences express different propositions, and so Russellianism is false.
A number of philosophers continue to argue, inthe spirit of Keith Donnellans classic paperReference and Definite Descriptions, thatthere is more to the semantics of definitedescriptions than Russells theory predicts. If their arguments are correct, then a completesemantic theory for sentences that containdefinite descriptions will have to provide morethan one set of truth conditions. A unitaryRussellian analysis of sentences of the form`the F is G would not suffice. In this paper,I examine a recent line of argument for thisanti-Russellian conclusion.Unlike earlier Donnellan-style (...) arguments, thenew argument does not rely upon the mereexistence of referential uses of definitedescriptions or the possibility of conveyinginformation about an object by misdescribingit. I argue, however, that we ought to rejectthis new line of reasoning and rest contentwith a Russellian theory of definitedescriptions. (shrink)
Richard Heck, Jr has recently argued against Russellianism about proper names not in the usual way—by appeal to “intuitions” about the truth conditions of “that”-clause belief ascriptions—but by appeal to our need to specify beliefs in a way that reflects their individuation. Since beliefs are individuated by their psychological roles and not their Russellian contents, he argues, Russellianism is precluded in principle from accounting for our ability to specify beliefs in ordinary language. I argue that Heck thus makes (...) things easier for the Russellian. For by framing the issue as one concerning the specificatory powers of ordinary language in general, rather than just of “that”-clause ascriptions, Heck weakens the implications of any claim about the semantics of that one type of belief-specifying locution. I augment this diagnosis with a positive account of the specificatory usefulness, and attested commonness, of (partly or wholly) quotational belief ascriptions, e.g. “Lois believes that ‘Superman’ is at the meeting.” This proposal is not of the usual sort concerning such locutions since it does not involve the (dubious) claim that they are in some way equivalent to “that”-clause ascriptions. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Recently, in a series of papers, Joshua Spencer has introduced, defended, and developed a modified version of Neo-Russellianism, namely Plenitudinous Russellianism, according to which there are structurally identical but numerically distinct singular Russellian propositions. PR claims to provide novel semantic solutions to all the major problems that NR faces with no radical revision in NR. In this paper, I introduce a semantic puzzle for PR: the view leads to the violation of the principle of substitutivity of co-referential (...) proper names within simple ‘that’-clauses. I consider different responses to my argument, and show that none of them is fully satisfactory for the Russellian. I conclude that PR needs to depart from NR more radically. RÉSUMÉ Récemment, Joshua Spencer a publié une série d'articles où il expose, défend et développe une version modifiée du Néo-Russellianisme, appelée Russellianisme de plénitude, selon laquelle il y a des propositions Russelliennes singulières structurellement identiques mais numériquement distinctes. Ce Russellianisme de plénitude prétend apporter de nouvelles solutions sémantiques à tous les problèmes majeurs auxquels le NR se confronte, sans pour autant procéder à une révision radicale du NR. Dans cet article, je mettrai le PR face à un casse-tête : cette vision mène à la violation du principe de substitution des noms propres co-référentiels au sein des subordonnées complétives simples. Je tâcherai de considérer différentes réponses à mon argument et de montrer qu'aucune d'entre elles n'est pleinement satisfaisante pour un Russellien. Je vais conclure que le PR devrait s’écarter plus radicalement du NR. (shrink)
A popular defense of physicalist theories of consciousness against anti-physicalist arguments is the “phenomenal concept strategy”. According to PCS there are phenomenal concepts that designate phenomenal properties, and whose use requires adopting the first person perspective with respect to those properties, thus allowing an epistemic gap between the phenomenal and the physical without requiring a metaphysical gap. One version of PCS is the quotational version, according to which phenomenal concepts are in part constituted by the very properties they designate. The (...) advertising for this version of PCS is that it does better justice to the phenomenology of consciousness than alternative versions. But in doing so, I argue, it threatens to reintroduce dualism. This can be avoided by adopting a Russellian account of physical concepts, but even with this we seem to be committed to a non-physicalist Russellian account of consciousness, and perhaps even a Russellian panpsychism. This can be avoided only by holding that, even though we now cannot see how the phenomenal supervenes on the physical, it does anyway, and perhaps future developments will make this clear. Thus, what starts out as a Type B physicalist strategy becomes a Type C strategy. (shrink)
The author, editor of Russell and Analytic Philosophy and Bertrand Russell: Critical Assessments, is also a long-time member of Russellians Anonymous, an international charitable organization founded to help combat the debilitating effects of Russellianism. For the record, it's true that while at the Munich conference a speaker did begin his comments with the first two sentences quoted below. No doubt historians will continue to debate exactly what followed afterwards.
According to Russellianism (or Millianism), the two sentences ‘Ralph believes George Eliot is a novelist’ and ‘Ralph believes Mary Ann Evans is a novelist’ cannot diverge in truth-value, since they express the same proposition. The problem for the Russellian (or Millian) is that a puzzle of Kaplan’s seems to show that they can diverge in truth-value and that therefore, since the Russellian holds that they express the same proposition, the Russellian view is contradictory. I argue that the standard Russellian (...) appeal to “ways of thinking” or “propositional guises” is not necessary to solve the puzzle. Rather than this retrograde concession to Fregeanism, appeal should be made to second-order belief. The puzzle is solved, and the contradiction avoided, by maintaining that both sentences are indeed true in addition to the sentence ‘Ralph (mistakenly) believes that he does not believe Mary Ann Evans/George Eliot is a novelist’. (shrink)
Russellianism is characterized as the view that ‘that’-clauses refer to Russellian propositions, familiar set-theoretic pairings of objects and properties. Two belief-reporting sentences, S and S*, possessing the same Russellian content, but differing in their intuitive truthvalue, are provided. It is argued that no Russellian explanation of the difference in apparent truthvalue is available, with the upshot that the Russellian fails to explain how a speaker who asserts S but rejects S* can be innocent of inconsistency, either in what she (...) says or, at least, in what she implicates. Yet, while there is no semantic or pragmatic explanation of the substitution failure consistent with Russellianism, there remains the possibility of a purely psychological explanation that is, nonetheless, Russellian. This is an attractive option. It comes at a cost, however, since, in abandoning the project of providing a semantic or pragmatic explanation of anti-substitutivity intuitions, the Russellian is no longer in the business of explaining how a rational, well-informed speaker, with no incentive to mislead, can avoid inconsistency in reporting the facts as they appear. (shrink)
Suspended judgment poses a serious problem for Russellianism. In this paper I examine several possible solutions to this problem and argue that none of them is satisfactory. Then I sketch a new solution. According to this solution, suspended judgment should be understood as a sui generis propositional attitude. By this I mean that it cannot be reduced to, or explained in terms of, other propositional attitudes, such as belief. Since suspended judgment is sui generis in this sense, sentences that (...) ascribe this attitude to someone should not be analyzed in terms of other attitude ascriptions, such as belief ascriptions. Instead they should be understood as involving a semantically primitive predicate, corresponding to the state of suspended judgment. (shrink)
According to neo-Russellianism, in a sentence such as John believes that Mont Blanc is 4000 m high, any other proper name co-referring with Mont Blanc can be substituted for it without any change in the proposition expressed. Prima facie, our practice of translation shows that this cannot be correct. We will then show that neo-Russellians have a way out of this problem, which consists in holding that actual translations are not a matter of semantics, but also make an attempt (...) at preserving some pragmatic features of the sentences to be translated. We then turn to translations that only preserve the semantic characteristics of the sentences and we argue that, although these translations are unable to show that neo-Russellianism is incorrect, they still show that it relies on some theses that seem to have no justification, apart from saving neo-Russellianism itself. (shrink)
‘Ahab is a whaler’ and ‘Holmes is a whaler’ express different propositions, even though neither ‘Ahab’ nor ‘Holmes’ has a referent. This seems to constitute a theoretical puzzle for the Russellian view of propositions. In this paper, I develop a variant of the Russellian view, Plenitudinous Russellianism. I claim that ‘Ahab is a whaler’ and ‘Holmes is a whaler’ express distinct gappy propositions. I discuss key metaphysical and semantic differences between Plenitudinous Russellianism and Traditional Russellianism and respond (...) to objections that stem from those differences. (shrink)
Gary Ostertag has presented a new puzzle for Russellianism about belief reports. He argues that Russellians do not have the resources to solve this puzzle in terms of pragmatic phenomena. I argue to the contrary that the puzzle can be solved according to Nathan Salmon’s pragmatic account of belief reports, provided that the account is properly understood. Specifically, the puzzle can be solved so long as Salmon’s guises are not identified with sentences.
Neo-Russellianism, which incorporates both Millianism (with regard to proper names) and the thesis of singular Russellian propositions, has widely been defended after the publication of Kripke's Naming and Necessity. The view, however, encounters various problems regarding empty names, names that do not have semantic referents. Nathan Salmon and Scott Soames have defended neo-Russellianism against such problems in a novel way; to account for various intuitions of competent and rational speakers regarding utterances of sentences containing empty names, Salmon and (...) Soames appeal neither to entities similar to Fregean senses, e.g. propositional guises or modes of presentation, nor to Gricean implicatures. In this paper, however, I argue that their view slips into neo-Meinongianism; it is committed to nonexistent objects, assigns various properties to them, and allows quantifiers range over such entities. This, I conclude, makes Salmon and Soames' view less appealing, if not implausible. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a well-known theory of belief reports from an important objection. The theory is Russellianism, sometimes also called `neo-Russellianism', `Millianism', `the direct reference theory', `the "Fido"-Fido theory', or `the naive theory'. The objection concernssubstitution of co-referring names in belief sentences. Russellianism implies that any two belief sentences, that differ only in containing distinct co-referring names, express the same proposition (in any given context). Since `Hesperus' and `Phosphorus' both refer to the planet Venus, this (...) view implies that all utterances of (1) and.. (shrink)
Do Russellian propositions have their constituents as parts? One reason for thinking not is that if they did, they would generate apparent counterexamples to plausible mereological principles. As Frege noted, they would be in tension with the transitivity of parthood. A certain small rock is a part of Etna but not of the proposition that Etna is higher than Vesuvius. So, if Etna were a part of the given proposition, parthood would fail to be transitive. As William Bynoe has noted (...) (speaking of facts rather than propositions), they would seem to violate certain supplementation principles. Consider the singular proposition, concerning identity, that it is identical with itself. Given the relevant form of Russellianism, this proposition would have identity as a proper part, but it would not have any parts disjoint from identity, and indeed it would not have even a single pair of disjoint parts, in violation of various supplementation principles. This chapter offers a unified solution to the problems about transitivity and supplementation. One key ingredient in the solution is the view that parthood is a four-place relation expressed by ‘x at y is a part of z at w’. Another key ingredient is the view that the semantic contents of predicates and sentential connectives have ‘slots’ or ‘argument positions’ in them. (Both ingredients are independently motivated elsewhere.) Four-place analogues of the transitivity and supplementation principles are set out, and it is argued that these are not threatened by the examples from Frege and Bynoe. (shrink)
Consider the sentence “Lois knows that Superman flies, but she doesn’t know that Clark flies”. In this paper we defend a Millian contextualist semantics for propositional attitude ascriptions, according to which ordinary uses of this sentence are true but involve a mid-sentence shift in context. Absent any constraints on the relevant parameters of context sensitivity, such a semantics would be untenable: it would undermine the good standing of systematic theorizing about the propositional attitudes, trivializing many of the central questions of (...) epistemology, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of action. In response to this problem, we prove a series of tenability results. We show that, given certain constraints on the parameters of context sensitivity, there is a broad class of principles of propositional attitude psychology whose good standing follows from corresponding claims about people’s mental representations. But these constraints also have some surprising consequences: they are jointly incompatible with coarse-grained theories of propositions, and they are in tension with a natural picture of how speakers and hearers coordinate on the interpretation of attitude ascriptions. In light of these consequences we explore different ways in which the contextualist picture might be developed, and argue that our preferred way compares favorably with Fregeanism and neo-Russellianism. (shrink)
I argue that the transparency of experience provides the basis of arguments both for intentionalism -- understood as the view that there is a necessary connection between perceptual content and perceptual phenomenology -- and for the view that the contents of perceptual experiences are Russellian propositions. While each of these views is popular, there are apparent tensions between them, and some have thought that their combination is unstable. In the second half of the paper, I respond to these worries by (...) arguing that Russellianism is consistent with intentionalism, that their conjunction is consistent with both internalism about phenomenology and externalism about perceptual content, and that the resulting view receives independent support from the relationship between hallucination and thought. (shrink)
Some contemporary Russellians, defenders of the view that the semantic content of a proper name, demonstrative or indexical is simply its referent, are prepared to accept that view’s most infamous apparent consequence: that coreferential names, demonstratives, indexicals, etc. are intersubstitutable salva veritate, even in intentional contexts. Nathan Salmon and Scott Soames argue that our recalcitrant intuitions with respect to the famous apparent counterexamples are not semantic intuitions, but rather pragmatic intuitions. Strictly and literally speaking, Lois Lane believes, and even knows (...) that Clark Kent is identical to Superman, since she believes and knows that Superman is identical to Superman. Salmon and Soames attempt to soften our reaction to this shocker by allowing that it is typically misleading to utter the sentence ‘Lois Lane knows that Clark Kent is identical to Superman’, since it pragmatically implicates, without semantically entailing, that Lois Lane would accept the sentence ‘Clark Kent is identical to Superman’. Our compulsive tendency to claim that ‘Lois Lane knows that Clark Kent is Superman’ is false, rather than merely misleading, is due to a confusion between semantics and pragmatics, between truth conditions and conditions of appropriateness of utterance.1 It is probably fair to say that the common reaction to this move in defense of Russellianism is negative. Mark Richard says the following. (shrink)
The 'substitution argument' purports to demonstrate the falsity of Russellian accounts of belief-ascription by observing that, e.g., these two sentences: (LC) Lois believes that Clark can fly. (LS) Lois believes that Superman can fly. could have different truth-values. But what is the basis for that claim? It seems widely to be supposed, especially by Russellians, that it is simply an 'intuition', one that could then be 'explained away'. And this supposition plays an especially important role in Jennifer Saul's defense of (...)Russellianism, based upon the existence of an allegedly similar contrast between these two sentences: (PC) Superman is more popular than Clark. (PS) Superman is more popular than Superman. The latter contrast looks pragmatic. But then, Saul asks, why shouldn't we then say the same about the former? The answer to this question is that the two cases simply are not similar. In the case of (PC) and (PS), we have only the facts that these strike us differently, and that people will sometimes say things like (PC), whereas they will never say things like (PS). By contrast, there is an argument to be given that (LS) can be true even if (LC) is false, and this argument does not appeal to anyone's 'intuitions'. The main goal of the paper is to present such a version of the substitution argument, building upon the treatment of the Fregan argument against Russellian accounts of belief itself in "Solving Frege's Puzzle". A subsidiary goal is to contribute to the growing literature arguing that 'intuitions' simply do not play the sort of role in philosophical inquiry that so-called 'experimental philosophers' have supposed they do. (shrink)
I present an argument for an interpretation of Kant's views on the nature of the ‘content [Inhalt]’ of ‘cognition [Erkenntnis]’. In contrast to one of the longest standing interpretations of Kant's views on cognitive content, which ascribes to Kant a straightforwardly psychologistic understanding of content, and in contrast as well to the more recently influential reading of Kant put forward by McDowell and others, according to which Kant embraces a version of Russellianism, I argue that Kant's views on this (...) topic are of a much more Fregean bent than has traditionally been admitted or appreciated. I conclude by providing a sketch of how a better grasp of Kant's views on cognitive content in general can help bring into sharper relief what is, and what is not, at stake in the recent debates over whether Kant accepts a particular kind of cognitive content—namely, non‐conceptual content. (shrink)
Representationalism, the view that phenomenal character supervenes on intentional content, has attracted a wide following in recent years. Most representationalists have also endorsed what I call 'standard Russellianism'. According to standard Russellianism, phenomenal content is Russellian in nature, and the properties represented by perceptual experiences are mind-independent physical properties. I argue that standard Russellianism conflicts with the everyday experience of colour constancy. Due to colour constancy, standard Russellianism is unable to simultaneously give a proper account of (...) the phenomenal content of colour experience and do justice to its phenomenology. (shrink)
Sentences in context have semantic contents determined by a range of factors both internal and external to speakers. I argue against the thesis that semantic content is transparent to speakers in the sense of being immediately accessible to speakers in virtue of their linguistic competence.
I present an argument for an interpretation of Kant's views on the nature of the ‘content [Inhalt]’ of ‘cognition [Erkenntnis]’. In contrast to one of the longest standing interpretations of Kant's views on cognitive content, which ascribes to Kant a straightforwardly psychologistic understanding of content, and in contrast as well to the more recently influential reading of Kant put forward by McDowell and others, according to which Kant embraces a version of Russellianism, I argue that Kant's views on this (...) topic are of a much more Fregean bent than has traditionally been admitted or appreciated. I conclude by providing a sketch of how a better grasp of Kant's views on cognitive content in general can help bring into sharper relief what is, and what is not, at stake in the recent debates over whether Kant accepts a particular kind of cognitive content—namely, non-conceptual content. (shrink)
Paul Elbourne claims that Russellians cannot accommodate the behavior of certain embedded definite descriptions. Since Fregeans can handle such descriptions, Elbourne urges theorists to reject Russell's theory in favor of Frege's. Here, I show that such descriptions pose no threat to Russellianism. These descriptions, I argue, are neutral between the two camps.
Recently, an orthodox Russellian tenet has come under fire from within. In particular, some Russellians now argue that definite descriptions don’t semantically encode uniqueness. Instead, Reformed Russellians, as I call them, hold that definite descriptions are truth-theoretically identical to indefinite ones. On this approach, a definite description’s uniqueness reading becomes a matter of pragmatics, not semantics. These reforms, we’re told, provide both empirical and methodological benefits over and above the prevailing orthodoxy. As I argue, however, the Russellian Reformation contains serious (...) flaws. Indeed, it is Orthodox Russellianism that remains a superior choice, both empirically and conceptually. (shrink)
Most philosophers who have endorsed the idea that there is such a thing as phenomenal content—content that supervenes on phenomenal character—have also endorsed what I call Standard Russellianism. According to Standard Russellianism, phenomenal content is Russellian in nature, and the properties represented by perceptual experiences are mind-independent physical properties. In agreement with Sydney Shoemaker [Shoemaker, S. (1994). Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 54 249–314], I argue that Standard Russellianism is incompatible with the possibility of spectrum inversion without illusion. (...) One defense of (...) Standard Russellianism is to hold that spectrum inversion without illusion is conceivable but not in fact possible. I argue that this response fails. As a consequence, either phenomenal content is not Russellian, or experiences do not represent mind-independent physical properties. (shrink)
This manuscript focuses on a problem for Millian Russellianism raised by Fine : “[Assuming] that we are in possession of the information that a Fs and the information that a Gs, it appears that we are sometimes justified in putting this information ‘together’ and inferring that a both Fs and Gs. But how?” It will be my goal to determine a Millian-Russellian solution to this problem. I will first examine Nathan Salmon’s Millian-Russellian solution, which appeals to a non-semantic and (...) subjective notion of coordination defined in terms of guises. I will object that in order to convincingly solve a specific version of Fine’s problem, identity conditions for guises must be provided. On the other hand, the most plausible way to individuate guises is by means of the equivalence classes of coordination itself. But, if so, the guise-based strategy to solve Fine’s problem risks being circular; in addition, there are serious doubts that coordination is transitive. An alternative Millian-Russellian solution to Fine’s problem will then be explored, which gives up guises and employs, instead, a non-semantic and subjective relation of coordination not defined in terms of guises, along with occurrences of Russellian propositions of a special sort, for which identity conditions will be provided and via which token attitude states intuitively more fine-grained than guises will be individuated. (shrink)
Russellians can have a no proposition view of empty names. I will defend this theory against the problem of meaningfulness, and show that the theory is in general well motivated. My solution to the problem of meaningfulness is that speakers’ judgements about meaningfulness are tracking grammaticality, and not propositional content.
This paper discusses a problem for Russellian propositions. According to Russellianism, each word in a sentence contributes its referent to the proposition expressed by the sentence. Russellian propositions have normally been conceived of as problematic for two reasons, viz. they cannot account for the unity of the proposition and they have problems with non-referring singular names. In this paper, I argue that Russellianism also faces a problem with respect to properties. It is inconsistent with both traditional realism and (...) trope-theories. The only theory of properties which is consistent with Russellianism is Platonism. Moreover, it is argued that Russellianism needs a particularly implausible version of Platonism. (shrink)
Millianism is the doctrine according to which the semantic content of a proper name is exhausted by its referent. This article raises and attempts to solve a dilemma for Millians: either a proper name of a truth bearer is in turn a truth bearer ; or having a truth bearer as semantic content is not sufficient for a linguistic expression to be a truth bearer. As it will be shown in the manuscript, the dilemma does not arise with “that”-clauses in (...) the place of proper names, if “that”-clauses are taken to be non-Millian designators whose semantic content is not a truth bearer. An account of “that”-clauses having such features and originating with Salmon, Frege's Puzzle, will be defended. (shrink)
Descartes famously argued, on purely conceptual grounds, that even an extremely powerful being could not trick him into mistakenly judging that he was thinking. Of course, it is not necessarily true that Descartes is thinking. Still, Descartes claimed, it is necessarily true that if a person judges that she is thinking, that person is thinking. Following Tyler Burge (1988) we call such judgments ‘self-verifying.’ More exactly, a judgment j performed by a subject S at a time t is selfverifying if (...) and only if the fact that S has made j at t entails that j is true at t.2 Burge follows Descartes in claiming that the category of conceptually self-verifying judgments includes (but is not restricted to) judgments that give rise to sincere assertions of sentences of the form, ‘I am thinking that p’. We call such judgments ‘cogito’ judgments. In this paper I argue that Burge’s Cartesian insight is hard to reconcile with Fregean accounts of the content of thought. Theorists have tried to account for the self-verifying status of cogito judgments by arguing that the second-order judgment that one is thinking that p contains the thought that p as a part of it. I argue (§1) that the accuracy of the containment model is entailed by a Russellian view of content (according to which ‘‘belief’’ contexts are both extensional and transparent) when the Russellian view is attached to some fairly uncontroversial assumptions. The accuracy of the containment model is also entailed by non-hierarchical Fregean views of content according to which expressions in oblique contexts both denote and express ﬁrst-level senses (§2), but there are compelling arguments against non-hierarchical Fregean views (§3). Moreover, the extremely plausible account of self-veriﬁcation provided by Russellianism is not entailed by theories that follow Frege in accepting a hierarchy of senses and so allow that expressions in oblique contexts express senses that are not identical to the senses they there denote (§4).. (shrink)
Propositions are the referents of the ‘that’-clauses that appear in the direct object positions of typical ascriptions of assertion, belief, and other binary cognitive relations. In that sense, propositions are the objects of those cognitive relations. Propositions are also the semantic contents (meanings, in one sense ) of declarative sentences, with respect to contexts. They are what sentences semantically express, with respect to contexts. Propositions also bear truth-values. The truth-value of a sentence, in a context, is the truth-value of the (...) proposition that it semantically expresses, in that context. This much is common ground among many (but not all) philosophers. I accept other claims about propositions that are more controversial. Propositions (I hold) are Russellian: they are structured entities whose constituents include individuals, properties, and relations. The contribution of a proper name to the proposition that a sentence semantically expresses (in a context) is the referent of that name. Thus, the semantic content of ‘Bill Clinton’ is Bill Clinton himself, and the semantic content of ‘Bill Clinton smokes’ is a proposition whose constituents are Bill Clinton and the property of smoking (ignoring tense, as I shall do from here on). Such 1 singular propositions are among the objects of belief, assertion, and other cognitive relations. This combination of a Millian view about proper names with a Russellian theory of propositions might appropriately be called ‘Millian Russellianism’, or ‘MR’ for short. David Chalmers, in his stimulating paper “Probability and Propositions,” defines a closely related view, Referentialism, as follows (see also the penultimate paragraph of his introduction). Referentialist views say that insofar as beliefs are about individuals (such as Nietzche), the objects of these belief are determined by those individuals. On one such view, the objects of belief are Russellian propositions composed from the individuals and properties that one’s belief is about.. (shrink)
We draw attention to a series of implicit assumptions that have structured the debate about Frege’s Puzzle. Once these assumptions are made explicit, we rely on them to show that if one focuses exclusively on the issues raised by Frege cases, then one obtains a powerful consideration against a fine-grained conception of propositional-attitude content. In light of this consideration, a form of Russellianism about content becomes viable.
A recent challenge to Russell’s theory of definite description centers upon the divergent behavior of definites and their Russellian paraphrases in non-extensional contexts. Russellians can meet this challenge, I argue, by incorporating the familiarity theory of definiteness into Russell’s theory. The synthesis of these two seemingly incompatible theories produces a conceptually consistent and empirically powerful framework. As I show, the coalescence of Russellianism and the familiarity theory of definiteness stands as a legitimate alternative to both Traditional Russellianism and (...) alternative semantic frameworks. (shrink)
Recently there has been a surge of new Fregeans who claim that the direct designation theory, as understood by contemporary Russellians, does not, and cannot, account for the different cognitive significance of statements containing different but codesignative names or indexicals. Instead, they say we must use a fine grained notion of propositions; one which builds a mode of presentation into proposition in addition to including in them the object referred to by the name or indexical in the sentence expressing the (...) proposition. Thus we have Mark Richard, John Perry, and Mark Crimmins championing theories that build the mode of presentation into propositions, making the mode of presentation affect the truth conditions of belief reports. What is interesting, though, is that all three accept the direct designationalists claim that proper names, indexicals, and demonstratives are directly referential.I present four problems for the direct designation theorists and argue that the problem the new Fregeans use to motivate their move to include cognitive significance in propositions is the least basic of the four problems. I then provide an account of beliefs of singular propositions which does not require us to build modes of presentations into propositions and which solves the problems posed for the direct designation theory. (shrink)
In this dissertation, I develop and defend a model of causation that allows for dualist mental causation in worlds where the physical domain is physically complete. In Part I, I present the dualist ontology that will be assumed throughout the thesis and identify two challenges for models of mental causation within such an ontology: the exclusion worry and the common cause worry. I also argue that a proper response to these challenges requires a thoroughly lightweight account of causation, i.e. an (...) account that allows for causes to be metaphysically distinct from the phenomena that produce or physically necessitate their effects. In Part II, I critically evaluate contemporary responses to these challenges from the philosophical literature. In particular, I discuss List and Stoljar’s criticism of exclusion worries, Kroedel’s alternative dualist ontology, concerns about the notion of causal sufficiency, and Lowe’s models of dualist mental causation. I argue that none of these proposals provide independent motivation for a thoroughly lightweight account of causation and therefore leave room for improvement. In the first four chapters of Part III, I develop a thoroughly lightweight model of causation, which builds on interventionist approaches to causation. First, I explain how so-called ‘holding fixed’-requirements in standard interventionist accounts stand in the way of dualist mental causation. I then argue that interventionist accounts should impose a robustness condition on causal correlations and that, with this condition in place, the ‘holding fixed’-requirements can be weakened such that they do allow for dualist mental causation. I dub the interventionist model with such weakened ‘holding fixed’-requirements ‘insensitive interventionism’, argue that it can counter the exclusion worry as well as the common cause worry, and explain under which circumstances it would predict there to be dualist mental causation. Importantly, these circumstances might, for all we know, hold in the actual world. In the final three chapters of Part III, I defend insensitive interventionism against some objections. I consider the objection that causation must be productive, the objection that causes must physically necessitate their effects, and the objection that insensitive interventionism is too permissive. I respond by drawing from the literature on causation by absences and on the relation between causation and fundamental physics. Overall, insensitive interventionism performs as well as standard interventionist accounts. I conclude that insensitive interventionism is a credible model of causation. (shrink)
Views that treat the contents of sentences as structured, Russellian propositions face a problem with empty names. It seems that those sorts of things cannot be the contents of sentences containing such names. I motivate and defend a solution to the problem according to which a sentence may have a singular proposition as its content at one time, and a nonsingular one at another. When the name is empty the content is a nonsingular Russellian structured proposition; when the name is (...) not empty the content is a singular Russellian structured proposition. (shrink)