The five English words—sentence, proposition, judgment, statement, and fact—are central to coherent discussion in logic. However, each is ambiguous in that logicians use each with multiple normal meanings. Several of their meanings are vague in the sense of admitting borderline cases. In the course of displaying and describing the phenomena discussed using these words, this paper juxtaposes, distinguishes, and analyzes several senses of these and related words, focusing on a constellation of recommended senses. One of the purposes of this (...) paper is to demonstrate that ordinary English properly used has the resources for intricate and philosophically sound investigation of rather deep issues in logic and philosophy of language. No mathematical, logical, or linguistic symbols are used. Meanings need to be identified and clarified before being expressed in symbols. We hope to establish that clarity is served by deferring the extensive use of formalized or logically perfect languages until a solid “informal” foundation has been established. Questions of “ontological status”—e.g., whether propositions or sentences, or for that matter characters, numbers, truth-values, or instants, are “real entities”, are “idealizations”, or are “theoretical constructs”—plays no role in this paper. As is suggested by the title, this paper is written to be read aloud. -/- I hope that reading this aloud in groups will unite people in the enjoyment of the humanistic spirit of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Truth, falsity, and unity -- Sentences, lists, and collections -- Declarative and other kinds of sentence -- Declarative sentences and propositions -- Sentences, propositions, and truth-values -- Sentences, propositions, and unity -- Unity and complexity -- Reference and supposition -- Reference and signification -- Linguistic idealism and empirical realism -- Russell on truth, falsity, and unity : 1903 -- Russell on truth, falsity, and unity : 1910-13 -- Russell on truth, falsity, and unity : 1918 -- Sense, reference, and propositions (...) -- Russellian propositions, Fregean thoughts, and facts -- The location of propositions -- Proper names, concept-expressions, and definite descriptions -- Concept-expressions and Carnapian intensions -- Carnapian intensions and understanding -- Carnapian intensions and Russellian propositions -- Russellian propositions and functionality -- A revised semantic map -- Sentences as referring expressions -- False propositions at the level of reference -- The world's own language -- Signification and supposition revisited -- Frege and Russell on unity -- Saturatedness and unsaturatedness -- The copula as secundum adiacens and as tertium adiacens -- Frege and the Copula -- The paradox of the concept horse -- Russell on unity and the paradox -- An unsuccessful attempt to avoid the paradox -- The paradox and the level of language -- Reforming Frege's treatment of concept-expressions -- Concepts and functions -- The reformed Frege : refinements and objections -- Frege, Russell, and the anti-fregean strategy -- The anti-fregean strategy : the case of names -- Disquotation and propositional form -- The context principle -- Prabhakara semantics and the related designation theory -- For that is not a word which is not the name of a thing -- The impartial strategy -- Secundum and tertium adiacens, matter and form -- The hierarchy of levels and the syntactic priority thesis -- Fregean and anti-fregean strategies -- The anti-fregean strategy and relations -- Interlude: The subject--predicate distinction -- The anti-fregean strategy and relations -- The reality of relations -- Polyadicity, monadicity, and identity -- The anti-fregean strategy and Montague grammar -- Fregean and anti-fregean strategies : further comparison -- Ramsey on the subject : predicate distinction -- Dummett's attack on the anti-fregean strategy -- Linguistic idealism revisited -- Alternative hierarchies and the context principle -- The linguistic hierarchy and categorial nonsense -- Logical syntax and the context principle -- Proper names, singular terms, and the identity test -- Proper names, Leibniz's law, and the identity of indiscernibles -- The negation asymmetry test -- Dummett's tests for singular termhood -- Discarding the syntactic priority thesis -- Logical predication, logical form, and Bradley's regress -- Names, verbs, and the replacement test -- Analysis and paradox -- Simple, complex, and logical predicates -- The grammatical copula and the logical copula -- Predication in Frege -- Two exegetical problems in Frege -- Inference and the logical predicate -- Unity and the logical predicate -- Bradley's regress and the tradition -- Russell and the general form of the proposition -- Wittgenstein's criticism of Russell -- Logical form in theTractatus -- Bradley's regress and the unity of the proposition -- The logical copula and theories of meaning -- Reference and the logical copula -- Bradley's regress and the analysis of meaning -- Vicious practical regresses -- Bradley's regress and the solution to the unity problem -- Propositions, sets, sums, and the objects themselves -- Bradley's regress and the infinite -- Vallicella's onto-theology -- A comparison with other innocent regresses -- Truth, falsity, and unity revisited -- Bradley's regress, realism, and states of affairs -- Unity and use -- The unity of sentences and the unity of complex names -- The unity of sentences and the unity of complex names -- Congruence, functionality, and propositional unity -- Davidson on predication -- Epilogue: The limits of language. (shrink)
According to contextualist theories in metaethics, when you use a moral term in a context, the context plays an ineliminable part in determining what natural property will be the semantic value of the term. Furthermore, on subjectivist and relativist versions of these views, it is either the speaker's own moral code or her moral community's moral code that constitutes the reference-fixing context. One standard objection to views of this type is that they fail to enable us to disagree in ordinary (...) conversations. In this chapter, I develop a new response to this objection on the basis of Kai von Fintel and Anthony Gillies' notion of proposition clouds. I argue that, because we live in a multicultural society, the conversational contexts we face will fail to disambiguate between all the things we could mean. This is why we can at best put into play proposition clouds when we make moral utterances. All the propositions in such clouds are then available for rejection and acceptance on the behalf of our audiences. The norms of conversation then guide us to make informative contributions to the conversation - accept and reject propositions in a way that leads to co-ordination of action and choice. (shrink)
Contextualism about many expressions faces a common objection: in some discourses it appears that there is no single interpretation which can explain how a speaker is justified in making her assertion and how a hearer with different information or standards is justified in negatively evaluating what the speaker said. According to the Multiple Proposition Strategy , contextualists may attempt to explain these competing features pragmatically in terms of different propositions in play. In this paper I argue against the Multiple (...)Proposition Strategy, first focusing on epistemic modals and then generalising the results to other expressions. I show how when purportedly contextualist terms are embedded in belief reports, we get similar problems but that the Multiple Proposition Strategy does not provide a satisfactory explanation of such cases. I suggest, therefore, that we reject the Multiple Proposition Strategy in favour of a theory that explains the unembedded and embedded cases in similar ways. (shrink)
_From Naming to Saying_ explores the classicquestion of the unity of the proposition, combining an historical approach with contemporary causal theories to offer a unique and novel solution. Presents compelling and sophisticated answers to questions about how language represents the world. Defends a novel approach to the classical question about the unity of the proposition. Examines three key historical theories: Frege’s doctrine of concept and object, Russell’s analysis of the sentence, and Wittgenstein’s picture theory of meaning. Combines an (...) historical approach with discussion and defense of a contemporary causal theory of the unity of the proposition. Establishes a view compatible with, though not dependent on, a causal theory of meaning. (shrink)
The word pro-tasis is etymologically a near equivalent of pre-mise, pro-position, and ante-cedent—all having positional, relational connotations now totally absent in contemporary use of proposition. Taking protasis for premise, Aristotle’s statement (24a16) -/- A protasis is a sentence affirming or denying something of something…. -/- is not a definition of premise—intensionally: the relational feature is absent. Likewise, it is not a general definition of proposition—extensionally: it is too narrow. This paper explores recent literature on these issues.
Proposition and sentence are two separate entities indicating their specific purposes, definitions and problems. A proposition is a logical entity. A proposition asserts that something is or not the case, any proposition may be affirmed or denied, all proportions are either true (1’s) or false (0’s). All proportions are sentences but all sentences are not propositions. Propositions are factual contains three terms: subject, predicate and copula and are always in indicative or declarative mood. While sentence is (...) a grammatical entity, a unit of language that expresses a complete thought; a sentence may express a proposition, but is distinct from the proposition it may be used to express: categories, declarative sentences, exclamatory, imperative and interrogative sentences. Not all sentences are propositions, propositions express sentence. Sentence is a proposition only in condition when it bears truth values i.e. true or false. We use English sentences governed by imprecise rule to state the precise rules of proposition. In logic we use sentence as logical entity having propositional function but grammatical sentences are different from logical sentences while the former are having only two divisions namely subject and predicate and may express wishes, orders, surprise or facts and also have multiple subjects and predicates and the latter must be in a propositional form which states quantity of the subject and the quality of the proposition and multiple subjects and multiple predicate make the proposition multiple. (shrink)
Peter H. Hare (1935-2008) developed informed, original views about the proposition: some published (Hare 1969 and Hare-Madden 1975); some expressed in conversations at scores of meetings of the Buffalo Logic Colloquium and at dinners following. The published views were expository and critical responses to publications by Curt J. Ducasse (1881-1969), a well-known presence in American logic, a founder of the Association for Symbolic Logic and its President for one term.1Hare was already prominent in the University of Buffalo's Philosophy Department (...) in 1969 when I was appointed. Soon after, he became Chair. As his Associate Chair from 1971to 1975, I spent many hours with him in Buffalo and on professional trips .. (shrink)
King develops a syntax-based account of propositions based on the idea that propositional unity is grounded in the syntactic structure of the sentence. This account faces two objections: a Benacerraf objection and a grain-size objection. I argue that the syntax-based account survives both objections, as they have been put forward in the existing literature. I go on to show, however, that King equivocates between two distinct notions of ‘propositional structure ’ when explaining his account. Once the confusion is resolved, it (...) is clear that the syntax-based account suffers from both Benacerraf and grain-size problems after all. I conclude by showing that King's account can be revised to avoid these problems, but only if it abandons its motivating idea that it is syntax that unifies the proposition. (shrink)
Richard Gaskin’s work on the problem of the unity of the proposition (“the problem”, henceforth) has sometimes been called magisterial due to its vast historical and conceptual scope. Indeed, the author engages in lengthy discussions of the conceptions of propositions that have been overlooked by most previous investigations on the problem. Not only aspects of Frege’s and Russell’s theories of propositions that appear most problematic are subject to Gaskin’s investigation, it also includes Prabhākara semantics, the approach of Gregory of (...) Rimini and various parts of Abelard’s thought just to name a few. Furthermore, the purpose of this work is manifold. It is not solely a historical account of the importance of the problem, nor is it only a critique of the views explored. Gaskin ventures to provide his own original solution to the problem of the unity of the proposition. The solution and the arguments in its favour, however, are deeply embedded in the structure of the extensive historical treatment of the problem and, hence, cannot be precisely depicted due to limited space. In what follows I shall hope to provide a general idea of how Gaskin approaches the topic historically and what is his endorsement towards it. Lastly, I discuss the proposed solution to the problem. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss the distinction between sentence and proposition from the perspective of identity. After criticizing Quine, we discuss how objects of logical languages are constructed, explaining what is Kleene’s congruence—used by Bourbaki with his square—and Paul Halmos’s view about the difference between formulas and objects of the factor structure, the corresponding boolean algebra, in case of classical logic. Finally we present Patrick Suppes’s congruence approach to the notion of proposition, according to which a whole hierarchy (...) of congruences leads to different kinds of objects. (shrink)
This article attempts to explore ancient Chinese philosophical thought by analyzing how pioneering Chinese thinkers made judgments and inferences, and compares it to ancient Greek philosophy. It first addresses the starting-point and the object of cognition in Chinese ancient philosophy, then analyses how early thinkers construed definition and proposition, and finally discusses how they made inferences on the basis of definition and proposition. It points out that categorization is an important methodology in ancient Chinese philosophy, and that rectification (...) of names and the doctrine of the mean are key criteria in making judgments. (shrink)
Part of rethinking philosophy today, the author believes, is to rethink our logical concepts. The author questions the ontological existence of the proposition as the content of sentential utterances—written or spoken—as it was originally proposed by John Searle. While a performative is an utterance where the speaker not only utters a sentential or illocutionary content such as a statement, but also performs the illocutionary force such as the act of stating, the author reasserts John Austin’s constative as the general (...) label (genus) of specific utterances (species) that can be rendered true or false such as a statement, assertion, description, and prediction. In the remainder of the paper, the author tries to show that it is a category mistake for someone to assert a statement or to state an assertion. (shrink)
Discussing the concept of duty in Groundwork 1, Kant refers to a ‘second proposition’ and a ‘third proposition’, the latter being a ‘Folgerung aus beiden vorigen’. However, Kant does not identify what the ‘first proposition’ is. In this paper, I will argue that the first proposition is this: An action from duty is an action from respect for the moral law. I defend this claim against a critique put forward by Allison according to which ‘respect’ is (...) a concept that is not, and could not be, introduced in paragraphs 9–13 of Groundwork 1. Further, I will argue that the first proposition as I understand it can also be reconstructed as the conclusion (‘Folgerung’) of a deductive argument proper; however, I will also discuss the option that ‘Folgerung’ could be understood as a corollary rather than a conclusion. Finally, Allison's own interpretation will be criticized. (shrink)
This monograph reappraises the role of Bertrand Russell's philosophical works in establishing the analytical tradition in philosophy. It's main aims are to: * improve our understanding of the history of analytical philosophy * engage in the important disputes surrounding the interpretation of Russell's philosophy * make a contribution to central issues in current analytical philosophy. Drawing extensively from Russell's less well known and unpublished works, this book is a welcome addition to the literature and will undoubtedly find a place on (...) the bookshelves of philosophers around the world. (shrink)
I argue that the best way to solve Russell's problem of the relationship between propositions and their constituents is to think of propositions as properties of worlds. I argue that this view preserves the strengths and avoids some of the weaknesses of the view of the metaphysics of propositions defended by Jeff King in his _The Nature and Structure of Content_, and that it provides an explanation of the representational properties of propositions and the nature of indexical belief. I conclude (...) by discussing some problems about how to think about the semantics of propositional attitude ascriptions, if a view of this sort is correct. (shrink)
A study of the reception of Aristotle's Prior Analytics in the first half of the twelfth century. It is shown that Peter Abaelard was perhaps acquainted with as much as the first seven chapters of Book I of the Prior Analytics but with no more. The appearance at the beginning of the twelfth century of a short list of dialectical loci which has puzzled earlier commentators is explained by noting that this list formalises the classification of extensional relations between general (...) terms and that this classification had already be put forward by Boethius in his de Syllogismo Categorico and Introductio ad Syllogismos Categoricas . It is pointed out the kind of text referred to as an ` Introductio ' at the beginning of the twelfth-century follows very closely the structure of Boethius own Introductio and adds to it material drawn from his accounts of loci and the conditional propositions. It is argued that the reception of the Prior Analytics has to be understood against the background of this well developed tradition of treating together syllogisms, loci , and conditional propostions. Referring to a challenge to the formal validity of Darapti in the Ars Meliduna the paper concludes by illustrating that the theory of the syllogism presented in Prior Analytics was still controversial in the middle of the twelfth-century. (shrink)
An account of the distinction between singular and general propositions should reflect the core ideas that have motivated the distinction. Those core ideas can be appreciated independently of many commitments regarding the metaphysics of propositions, but theorists with differing views on the latter have given quite different explanations of what it is for a proposition to be singular or general. Many of those explanations turn out not to reflect the core ideas adequately after all, either by misclassifying certain propositions (...) or by failing to be sufficiently informative. A more satisfactory account can be formulated by more directly elaborating on the background ideas motivating the distinction. The resulting account not only does better than its competitors, but is compatible with various views on the metaphysics of propositions. (shrink)
Within relevance theory the two local pragmatic processes of enrichment and loosening of linguistically encoded conceptual material have been given quite distinct treatments. Enrichments of various sorts, including those which involve a logical strengthening of a lexical concept, contribute to the proposition expressed by the utterance, hence to its truth-conditions. Loosenings, including metaphorical uses, do not enter into the proposition expressed by the utterance or affect its truth-conditions; they stand in a relation of 'interpretive resemblance' with the linguistically (...) encoded concept used to represent them. This asymmetric treatment is questioned here, arguments are given for an account which reflects the complementarity of these processes and several alternative symmetrical treatments are explored. (shrink)
In Natural propositions (2014), Stjernfelt contends that the interpretation of a proposition or dicisign requires the joint action of two kinds of signs. A proposition must contain a sign that conveys a general quality. This function can be served by a similarity-based icon or code-based symbol. In addition, a proposition must situate or apply this general quality, so that the predication can become liable of being true or false. This function is served by an index. Stjernfelt rightly (...) considers the co-localization of these two parts to be a primitive phenomenon. Although this primitive character would seem to bar any further analysis, I endeavor to clarify the degree of proximity sufficient to enable co-localization. Siding with Pietarinen (2014), who argues that the whole issue should not be construed in metric terms, I conclude that one cannot make sense of propositional co-localization without appealing to some form of first-person perspective. (shrink)
This paper addresses the mereological problem of the unity of structured propositions. The problem is how to make multiple parts interact such that they form a whole that is ultimately related to truth and falsity. The solution I propose is based on a Platonist variant of procedural semantics. I think of procedures as abstract entities that detail a logical path from input to output. Procedures are modeled on a function/argument logic, but are not functions. Instead they are higher-order, fine-grained structures. (...) I identify propositions with particular kinds of molecular procedures containing multiple sub-procedures as parts. Procedures are among the basic entities of my ontology, while propositions are derived entities. The core of a structured proposition is the procedure of predication, which is an instance of the procedure of functional application. The main thesis I defend is that procedurally conceived propositions are their own unifiers detailing how their parts interact so as to form a unit. They are not unified by one of their constituents, e.g., a relation or a sub-procedure, on pain of regress. The relevant procedural semantics is Transparent Intensional Logic, a hyperintensional, typed λ-calculus, whose λ-terms express four different kinds of procedures. While demonstrating how the theory works, I place my solution in a wider historical and systematic context. (shrink)
If we make the basic assumption that the components of a proposition have reference on the model of proper name and bearer, we face the problem of distinguishing the proposition from a mere list' of names. We neutralize the problem posed by that assumption of we first of all follow Wiggins and distinguish, in every predicate, a strictly predicative element (the copula), and a strictly non-predicative conceptual component (available to be quantified over). If we further allow the copula (...) itself to conform to the basic assumption, a regress ( Bradley's regress') arises: the referent of the copula will be instantiation, the instantiation of instantiation etc. To avert the regress, Wiggins simply legislates that the basic assumption is to fail for the copula. But we are entitled to regard the regress as constitution not a difficulty, but the solution: the infinitism it imports (capturable in a finitistic theory of meaning) is just what the unity of the proposition "is". (edited). (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.
_From Naming to Saying _explores the classicquestion of the unity of the proposition, combining an historical approach with contemporary causal theories to offer a unique and novel solution. Presents compelling and sophisticated answers to questions about how language represents the world. Defends a novel approach to the classical question about the unity of the proposition. Examines three key historical theories: Frege’s doctrine of concept and object, Russell’s analysis of the sentence, and Wittgenstein’s picture theory of meaning. Combines an (...) historical approach with discussion and defense of a contemporary causal theory of the unity of the proposition. Establishes a view compatible with, though not dependent on, a causal theory of meaning. (shrink)
Bertrand Russell's 1903 masterpiece "The Principles of Mathematics" places great emphasis on the need to separate propositions from psychological items such as thoughts. In 1919 Russell explicitly retracts this view, however, and defines propositions as "psychological occurrences". These psychological occurrences are held by Russell to be mental images. In this paper, I seek to explain this radical change of heart. I argue that Russell's re-psychologising of the proposition in 1919 can only be understood against the background of his struggle (...) with the problem of the unity of the proposition in earlier work. Once this is recognized, and the solution to the problem offered by the 1919 theory is appreciated, new light is also shed on Russell's naturalism. I go on to compare Russell's psychological "picture theory" with the vehemently anti-psychological picture theory of Wittgenstein's "Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus" and suggest that, once the background of the dispute is brought into clearer focus, Russell's position can be seen to have many advantages over its more celebrated rival. (shrink)
Fitch showed that not every true proposition can be known in due time; in other words, that not every proposition is knowable. Moore showed that certain propositions cannot be consistently believed. A more recent dynamic phrasing of Moore-sentences is that not all propositions are known after their announcement, i.e., not every proposition is successful. Fitch's and Moore's results are related, as they equally apply to standard notions of knowledge and belief (S 5 and KD45, respectively). If we (...) interpret ‘successful’ as ‘known after its announcement’ and ‘knowable’ as ‘known after some announcement’, successful implies knowable. Knowable does not imply successful: there is a proposition ϕ that is not known after its announcement but there is another announcement after which ϕ is known. We show that all propositions are knowable in the more general sense that for each proposition, it can become known or its negation can become known. We can get to know whether it is true: ◊(Kϕ ∨ K¬ϕ). This result comes at a price. We cannot get to know whether the proposition was true. This restricts the philosophical relevance of interpreting ‘knowable’ as ‘known after an announcement’. (shrink)
In this article I present a summary of Bertrand Russell's protracted attempts to solve the problem of the unity of the proposition, and explain the significance of the problem for Russell's philosophy. Unlike many other accounts which take the problem to be confined to Russell's early theories of propositional content, I argue that the problem (or variants of it) is a recurring theme throughout the whole of Russell's career.
To understand pre-Fregean theories of judgment and proposition, such as those found in Locke and the Port-Royal logic, it is important to distinguish between propositions in the modern sense and propositions in the pre-Fregean sense. By making this distinction it becomes clear that these pre-Fregean theories cannot be meant to solve the propositional attitude problem. Notwithstanding this fact, Locke and Arnauld are able to make a distinction between asserted and unasserted propositions (in their sense). The way Locke makes this (...) distinction turns out to be very different from the way it is made by Arnauld. (shrink)
‘The Unity of the Proposition’ is a label for a problem which has intermittently intrigued philosophers but which for much of the last century lay neglected in the sad, lightless room under the stairs of philosophical progress, along with other casualties and bugaboos of early analytic philosophy such as the doctrine of internal relations, the identity theory of truth, and Harold Joachim. Yet it was while struggling with this problem (among others), that Bertrand Russell built one of the first (...) steps on the staircase by creating what came later to be called the theory of descriptions.1 According to that theory, statements containing definite descriptions are true only if there exists a unique thing satisfying the description. So nothing one says about ‘The Problem of the Unity of the Proposition’, for example, can be true unless there is one and only one such problem. Yet, as we shall explain below (§1), on the one hand it is unclear that there is any such problem at all, while, on the other, if there is a problem, there seem to be several. One might conclude, then, that everything we say in this paper is likely to be false. But perhaps the paper could be, in the context, appropriately treated as a ladder, to be kicked away after climbing. For Wittgenstein, too, was concerned with the problem: ‘At the centre of Wittgenstein’s project was the task of explaining the unity of the proposition’, says Michael Potter, for example.2 Wittgenstein had inherited the task from two of his philosophical mentors, Russell and Frege. Yet while Russell’s series of failed accounts of propositions, and then judgments, each of which was meant to resolve the problem, seemed ultimately to serve only as a sort of negative inspiration for him,3 Frege’s response to the problem proved a deep influence. We will outline Frege’s position as a backdrop to Wittgenstein’s below (§§2 and 3). As we will argue, one of the most important ways in which Wittgenstein’s position resembles Frege’s is precisely that his (Wittgenstein’s) solution to the problem of unity required treating his own book as an attempt to say the unsayable.. (shrink)
A standard objection to Cappelen and Lepore’s Semantic Minimalism is that minimal propositions are explanatorily idle. But Schoubye and Stokke recently proposed that minimal proposition and the question under discussion of a conversation jointly determine what is said in a systematic and explanatory way. This note argues that their account both overgenerates and undergenerates.
There are parallels between certain responses to local epistemological scepticism about religious belief and an influential reply to radical epistemological scepticism. What ties both accounts together is that they utilise, either implicitly or explicitly, a “hinge” proposition thesis which maintains that the pivotal beliefs in question are immune to sceptical attack even though they lack sufficient epistemic grounds. It is argued that just as this strategy lacks any anti-sceptical efficacy in the context of the radical sceptical debate, so it (...) offers no defence against a localised scepticism regarding religious belief either. What the defender of religious belief should do, it is claimed, is re-examine the manner in which a commitment to the doctrine of epistemological internalism underlies the sceptical attack. (shrink)
Peirce discusses the nature and structure of propositions in several manuscripts written in the 1890’s and during the first decade of this century. In this paper I shall outline the main features of Peirce’s theory of the proposition, especially his account of what may be called indeterminate indices in propositions.
Peirce discusses the nature and structure of propositions in several manuscripts written in the 1890’s and during the first decade of this century. In this paper I shall outline the main features of Peirce’s theory of the proposition, especially his account of what may be called indeterminate indices in propositions.
History witnesses alternative approaches to “the proposition”. The proposition has been referred to as the object of belief, disbelief, and doubt: generally as the object of propositional attitudes, that which can be said to be believed, disbelieved, understood, etc. It has also been taken to be the object of grasping, judging, assuming, affirming, denying, and inquiring: generally as the object of propositional actions, that which can be said to be grasped, judged true or false, assumed for reasoning purposes, (...) etc. The proposition has also been taken to be the subject of truth and falsity: generally as the subject of propositional properties, that which can be said to be true, false, tautological, informative, inconsistent,etc. It has also been taken as the subject and object of logical relations, e.g. that which can be said to imply, be implied, contradict, be contradicted, etc. Prima facie, such properties and relations are non-mental and objective. It has also been taken to be the resultants or products of propositional operations, usually mental or linguistic; e.g. judging, affirming, and denying have been held to produce propositions called judgments, affirmations, and negations, respectively. Propositions have also been taken to be certain declarative sentences. Finally,propositions have been taken to be meanings of certain declarative sentences. This essay is an informal, selective, and incomplete survey of alternative approaches to “the proposition” with special attention to the views of the late American philosopher Peter Hare (1935–2008)and of those who influenced him. DOI: 10.5007/1808-1711.2011v15n1p51. (shrink)
The problem of the unity of the proposition—what distinguishes a proposition from a mere list of constituents, so that the former is able to say something while the latter is not?—is as old as philosophy. It is evoked at the end of Plato’s Sophist, where the Stranger affirms that when one makes a statement “he does not merely give names, but he reaches a conclusion by combining (συμπλέκων) verbs with nouns” (262d, 2–3); and it is discussed by Aristotle (...) in De Interpretatione, where it is said that since “falsity and truth have to do with combination (σύνθεσιν) and separation” (16a 11–12), then “the first single statementmaking sentence is the affirmation, next is the negation” (17a 8); but “every statement-making .. (shrink)
Newton characterizes the reasoning of Principia Mathematica as geometrical. He emulates classical geometry by displaying, in diagrams, the objects of his reasoning and comparisons between them. Examination of Newton’s unpublished texts shows that Newton conceives geometry as the science of measurement. On this view, all measurement ultimately involves the literal juxtaposition—the putting-together in space—of the item to be measured with a measure, whose dimensions serve as the standard of reference, so that all quantity is ultimately related to spatial extension. I (...) use this conception of Newton’s project to explain the organization and proofs of the first theorems of mechanics to appear in the Principia. The placementof Kepler’s rule of areas as the first proposition, and the manner in which Newton proves it, appear natural on the supposition that Newton seeks a measure, in the sense of a moveable spatial quantity, of time. I argue that Newton proceeds in this way so that his reasoning can have the ostensive certainty of geometry. (shrink)