One of Kripke's fundamental objections to descriptivism was that the theory misclassifies certain _a posteriori_ propositions expressed by sentences involving names as _a priori_. Though nowadays very few philosophers would endorse a descriptivism of the sort that Kripke criticized, many find two-dimensional semantics attractive as a kind of successor theory. Because two-dimensionalism needn't be a form of descriptivism, it is not open to the epistemic argument as formulated by Kripke; but the most promising versions of two-dimensionalism are open (...) to a close relative of that argument. (shrink)
This paper criticizes Soames’s main argument against a variant of two-dimensionalism that he calls strong two-dimensionalism. The idea of Soames’s argument is to show that the strong two-dimensionalist’s semantics for belief ascriptions delivers wrong semantic verdicts about certain complex modal sentences that contain both such ascriptions and claims about the truth of the ascribed beliefs. A closer look at the formal semantics underlying strong two-dimensionalism reveals that there are two feasible ways of specifying the truth conditions for (...) claims of the latter sort. Only one of the two yields the problematic semantic verdicts, so strong two-dimensionalists can avoid Soames’s argument by settling for the other way. (shrink)
Some opponents of epistemic two-dimensionalism say that the view should be rejected on the grounds that it misclassifies certain a posteriori claims as a priori. Elliott, McQueen, & Weber  have argued that any argument of this form must fail. I argue that this conclusion is mistaken, and defend my argument [Speaks (2010] against their criticisms.
Robert Stalnaker contrasts two interpretations, semantic and metasemantic, of the two-dimensionalist framework. On the semantic interpretation, the primary intension or diagonal proposition associated with an utterance is a semantic value that the utterance has in virtue of the actual linguistic meaning of the corresponding sentence, and that primary intension is both what a competent speaker grasps and what determines different secondary intensions or horizontal propositions relative to different possible worlds considered as actual. The metasemantic interpretation reverses the order of explanation: (...) an utterance has the primary intension it has because it yields the secondary intensions it yields relative to different possible worlds considered as actual. In these possible worlds, the semantic facts can be different: the metasemantic interpretation is metasemantic in the sense that the secondary intensions are determined relative to possible worlds considered as actual given the meanings the expressions have there. Stalnaker holds a causal picture of the reference of names, according to which names have no meaning over and above their unique referent, and therefore maintains that the semantic interpretation is not an option. He thus endorses the metasemantic interpretation, while insisting that this interpretation does not, contrary to what he originally thought, yield any account of a priori truth and knowledge. My double aim in this paper is to show (i) that the metasemantic interpretation, as sketched by Stalnaker, is not compatible with one natural understanding of the causal picture of reference, on which names are rigid because they have their original bearers essentially , and (ii) that a third kind of interpretation of the framework is available, the metasyntactic interpretation, which grants that names have their bearers essentially and yields some account of a priori knowledge. (shrink)
There is reason to expect a reasonable account of a priori knowledge to be linked with an account of the nature of conceptual thought. Recent “two-dimensionalist” accounts of conceptual thought propose an extremely direct connection between the two: on such views, being in a position to know a priori a large number of non-trivial propositions is a necessary condition of concept-possession. In this paper I criticize this view, by arguing that it requires an implausibly internalist and intellectualist conception of capacities (...) we bring to bear in applying concepts in experience. Empirical concept-application depends on the exercise of a variety of capacities, many of which can be grouped together under the general label “recognitional”. As I argue, two-dimensionalism cannot accommodate a plausible account of such capacities. This suggests that the link between a priori knowledge and the nature of conceptual thought is not as direct as twodimensionalists take it to be. I close by briefly sketching a different way to think of that link. (shrink)
The truth of a statement depends on the world in two ways: what the statement says is true if the world is as the statement says it is; on the other hand, what the expressions in the statement mean depends on what the world is like (for instance, on what conventions are in place). Each of these two kinds of dependence of truth on the world corresponds to one of the dimensions on the two-dimensional semantic framework, developed in the 1970’ (...) in the work of Evans, Kaplan, Kripke and Stalnaker. The introduction provides a systematic overview of the framework, the ideas of its earlier originators, recent developments and criticism. Finally, it gives a brief overview over the contributions to the volume. (shrink)
Two-dimensional semantics aims to eliminate the puzzle of necessary a posteriori and contingent a priori truths. Recently many argue that even assuming two-dimensional semantics we are left with the puzzle of necessary and a posteriori propositions. Stephen Yablo (Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 81, 98–122, 2000) and Penelope Mackie (Analysis, 62(3), 225–236, 2002) argue that a plausible sense of “knowing which” lets us know the object of such a proposition, and yet its necessity is “hidden” and thus a posteriori. This paper answers (...) this objection; I argue that given two-dimensional semantics you cannot know a necessary proposition without knowing that it is true. (shrink)
As tends to be the way with philosophical positions, there are at least as many two-dimensionalisms as there are two-dimensionalists. But painting with a broad brush, there are core epistemological and metaphysical commitments which underlie the two-dimensionalist project, commitments for which I have no sympathies. A sketch of three signi?cant points of disagreement.
Abstract: In recent years two-dimensional semantics has become one of the most serious alternatives to Millianism for the proper interpretation of modal discourse. It has origins in the works of a diverse group of philosophers, and it has proven popular as an interpretation of both language and thought. It has probably received most of its attention, however, because of its use by David Chalmers in his arguments against materialism. It is this more metaphysical application of two-dimensionalism that is the (...) concern in this paper. For though there is probably something salvageable from two-dimensionalism as a way to explain the content of thought, as a metaphysical tool it should be abandoned. In this paper I aim to establish this point by reductio: if 'metaphysical' two-dimensionalism is assumed, it can be shown to be false. (shrink)
This paper develops and critiques the two-dimensionalist account of mental content developed by David Chalmers. I first explain Chalmers's account and show that it resists some popular criticisms. I then argue that the main interest of two-dimensionalism lies in its accounts of cognitive significance and of the connection between conceivability and possibility. These accounts hinge on the claim that some thoughts have a primary intension that is necessarily true. In this respect, they are Carnapian, and subject to broadly Quinean (...) attack. The remainder of the paper advances such an attack. I argue that there are possible thinkers who are willing to revise their beliefs in response to expert testimony, and that such thinkers will have no thoughts with necessary primary intensions. I even suggest that many actual humans may well be such thinkers. I go on to argue that these possible thinkers show that the two-dimensionalist accounts fail. (shrink)
One of Kripke's fundamental objections to descriptivism was that the theory misclassifies certain a posteriori propositions expressed by sentences involving names as a priori. Though nowadays very few philosophers would endorse a descriptivism of the sort that Kripke criticized, many find two-dimensional semantics attractive as a kind of successor theory. Because two-dimensionalism needn't be a form of descriptivism, it is not open to the epistemic argument as formulated by Kripke; but the most promising versions of two-dimensionalism are open (...) to a close relative of that argument. (shrink)
At the April 2006 meeting of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association, in an author-meets-critics session on Scott Soames' book _Reference and Description: The Case Against Two-Dimensionalism_ , I presented a comment on Soames' book, "Scott Soames' Two-Dimensionalism" . The other critic was Robert Stalnaker. Soames presented his response to critics . Below is a reply to Soames' response to me, for those who were at the session and interested others. Note that this response was mostly written (...) before the session, except for one or two paragraphs where the discussion in the session is mentioned. (shrink)
According to epistemic two-dimensionalism, or simply two-dimensionalism, linguistic expressions are associated with two intensions, one of which represents an expression’s a priori implications. The author investigates the prospects of conceptual analysis on the basis of a two-dimensionalist theory of meaning. He discusses a number of arguments for and against two-dimensional semantics and argues that properly construed, two-dimensionalism provides a potent and plausible account of meaning. Against the background of this account, the author then goes on to assess (...) the value of conceptual analysis in philosophical practice, outlining its goals, its promises, but also its limitations. (shrink)
According to Epistemic Two-Dimensional Semantics (E2D), expressions have a counterfactual intension and an epistemic intension. Epistemic intensions reflect cognitive significance such that sentences with necessary epistemic intensions are a priori. We defend E2D against an influential line of criticism: arguments from epistemic misclassification. We focus in particular on the arguments of Speaks  and Schroeter . Such arguments conclude that E2D is mistaken from (i) the claim that E2D is committed to classifying certain sentences as a priori, and (ii) the (...) claim that such sentences are a posteriori. We aim to show that these arguments are unsuccessful as (i) and (ii) undercut each other. One must distinguish the general framework of E2D from a specific implementation of it. The framework is flexible enough to avoid commitment to the apriority of any particular sentence; only specific implementations are so committed. Arguments from epistemic misclassification are therefore better understood as arguments for favouring one implementation of E2D over another, rather than as refutations of E2D. (shrink)
Epistemic two-dimensional semantics, advocated by Chalmers and Jackson, among others, aims to restore the link between necessity and a priority seemingly broken by Kripke, by showing how armchair access to semantic intensions provides a basis for knowledge of necessary a posteriori truths. The most compelling objections to E2D are that, for one or other reason, the requisite intensions are not accessible from the armchair. As we substantiate here, existing versions of E2D are indeed subject to such access-based objections. But, we (...) moreover argue, the difficulty lies not with E2D but with the typically presupposed conceiving-based epistemology of intensions. Freed from that epistemology, and given the right alternative—one where inference to the best explanation provides the operative guide to intensions—E2D can meet access-based objections, and fulfill its promise of restoring the desirable link between necessity and a priority. This result serves as a central application of Biggs and Wilson, according to which abduction is an a priori mode of inference. (shrink)
For those who endorse Millianism and take ‘Sherlock Holmes’ to be an empty name, the sentence ‘Sherlock Holmes is clever’ may not count as expressing a complete proposition. The sentence ‘According to the fiction, Sherlock Holmes is clever’, however, should count as expressing a true proposition. I attempt to reconcile these two intuitions by arguing that ‘According to the fiction’ is a two-dimensional operator: to evaluate a statement of the form ‘According to the fiction, S’ at world @ (where @ (...) is also taken to be the actual world), we evaluate S at the world of the fiction (where the fiction is also taken to be the actual world). (shrink)
Kripke and Putnam have convinced most philosophers that we cannot do metaphysics of nature by analysing the senses of natural kind terms -- simply because natural kind terms do not have senses. Neo-descriptivists, especially Frank Jackson and David Chalmers, believe that this view is mistaken. Merging classical descriptivism with a Kaplan-inspired two-dimensional framework, neo-descriptivists devise a semantics for natural kind terms that assigns natural kind terms so-called 'primary intensions'. Since primary intensions are senses by other names, Jackson and Chalmers conclude (...) that we can and should do metaphysics of nature by analysing the natural kind concepts competent speakers possess. I argue that neo-descriptivism does not provide a suitable basis for doing this kind of metaphysics. I first of all give a detailed account of the neo-descriptivist semantics and deflate the intuitive support neo-descriptivists try to draw from their case of the XYZ-world. I then present three arguments -- the Argument from Ignorance, the Argument from Conceptual Analysis, and the Argument from Laziness. Taken together, these arguments undermine the neo-descriptivist analysis of natural kind terms. I conclude that natural kind terms do not have senses, that we cannot do metaphysics of nature by analysing the senses of our kind terms, and that the Kripke-Putnam account still provides the best semantics for natural kind terms we have. (shrink)
Scott Soames’ Reference and Description contains arguments against a number of different versions of two-dimensional semantics. After early chapters on descriptivism and on Kripke’s anti-descriptivist arguments, a chapter each is devoted to the roots of twodimensionalism in “slips, errors, or misleading suggestions” by Kripke and Kaplan, and to the two-dimensional approaches developed by Stalnaker (1978) and by Davies and Humberstone (1981). The bulk of the book (about 200 pages) is devoted to “ambitious twodimensionalism”, attributed to Frank Jackson, David Lewis, and (...) me. After a quick overview of two-dimensional approaches, I will focus on Soames’ discussion of ambitious twodimensionalism. I will then turn to a system advocated by Soames that is itself strikingly reminiscent of a two-dimensional approach. Two-dimensional semantic theories are varieties of possible-worlds semantics on which linguistic items can be evaluated relative to possibilities in two different ways, yielding two sorts of intensional semantic values, which can be seen as two “dimensions” of meaning. The second dimension is the familiar sort of Kripkean evaluation in metaphysically possible worlds, so that necessarily coextensive terms (such as ‘Hesperus’ and ‘Phosphorus’ or ‘water’ and ‘H2O’) always have the same semantic value. The first dimension behaves differently, so that there are typically at least some cases where necessarily coextensive terms have different semantic values on the first dimension. For this reason, the two-dimensional framework is sometimes seen as a way of granting many of the insights of a Kripkean approach to meaning (on the second dimension), while retaining elements of a Fregean approach to meaning (on the first dimension). (shrink)
There are different _kinds _of two-dimensional matrix one can work with, representing different properties of an expression. One has to understand the rows and columns differently for the different matrices; but there are some formal characteristics all the matrices have in common.
Here the extension of a sentence token is a truth-value, the extension of a name is an individual, and so on. Scenarios are most often understood as centered possible worlds – i.e. ordered triples of worlds, individuals, and times - although they may also be understood in other ways.
I understand (MR) as meaning that there is a way the world is that is independent of our minds or representations. One may also state (MR) in terms of ‘A description/language independent world/reality’ or ‘a conceptual scheme independent world/reality’. For our purposes, we need not distinguish these variants of formulation.
In this essay for a PPR book symposium on Theodore Sider's _Four-Dimensionalism<D>, I focus on two of Sider's arguments for four-dimensionalism: (i) his argument from vagueness, and (ii) his argument from time travel. Concerning (i), I first show that Sider's argument commits him to certain strange consequences that many four-dimensionalists may not endorse, and then I discuss an objection that involves appealing to 'brutal composition', the view that there is no informative answer to Peter van Inwagen's 'special composition question'. Concerning (...) (ii), I argue that the three-dimensionalist can account for time travel scenarios in a way that is analogous to Sider's four-dimensionalist account of such scenarios. (shrink)
Theodore Sider’s Four-Dimensionalism is a well-organized and clearly written book that is chock-full of important arguments. Both friends and foes of the views defended by Sider will benefit enormously from careful study of the book. I am going to focus on just two of Sider’s many arguments for Four-Dimensionalism: his argument from vagueness, which I take to be the most important and powerful argument in the book, and his argument from time travel, which I find to be the funnest to (...) think about. (shrink)
The paper explores the project of an ambitious modal epistemology that attempts to combine the a priori methods of Chalmers’ 2D semantics with Kripke’s modal metaphysics. I argue that such a project is not viable. The ambitious modal epistemology involves an inconsistent triad composed of (1) Modal Monism, (2) Two-Dimensionalism, and what I call (3) “Metaphysical Kripkeanism”. I present the three theses and show how only two of those can be true at a time. There is a fundamental incompatibility (...) between Chalmers’ Modal Rationalism and Kripke’s modal metaphysics. Specifically, Chalmers’ conceivability entails possibilities that a Kripkean rejects as genuinely metaphysical. However, three positive stances in modal epistemology emerge from the combinations that the triad allows. One of those offers a promising way forward for 2D modal epistemologies. But it comes with a cost, as it requires abandoning modal monism and reshaping the scope of what a priori conceivability can give us access to. (shrink)
Graeme Forbes (2011) raises some problems for two-dimensional semantic theories. The problems concern nested environments: linguistic environments where sentences are nested under both modal and epistemic operators. Closely related problems involving nested environments have been raised by Scott Soames (2005) and Josh Dever (2007). Soames goes so far as to say that nested environments pose the “chief technical problem” for strong two-dimensionalism. We call the problem of handling nested environments within two-dimensional semantics “the nesting problem”. We show that the (...) two-dimensional semantics for attitude ascriptions developed in Chalmers (2011a) has no trouble accommodating certain forms of the nesting problem that involve factive verbs such as “know” or “establish”. A certain form of the nesting problem involving apriority and necessity operators does raise an interesting puzzle, but we show how a generalized version of the nesting problem arises independently of two-dimensional semantics—it arises, in fact, for anyone who accepts the contingent a priori. We, then, provide a two-dimensional treatment of the apriority operator that fits the two-dimensional treatment of attitude verbs and apply it to the generalized nesting problem. We conclude that two-dimensionalism is not seriously threatened by cases involving the nesting of epistemic and modal operators. (shrink)
Why is two-dimensional semantics important? One can think of it as the most recent act in a drama involving three of the central concepts of philosophy: meaning, reason, and modality. First, Kant linked reason and modality, by suggesting that what is necessary is knowable a priori, and vice versa. Second, Frege linked reason and meaning, by proposing an aspect of meaning (sense) that is constitutively tied to cognitive signi?cance. Third, Carnap linked meaning and modality, by proposing an aspect of meaning (...) (intension) that is constitutively tied to possibility and necessity. (shrink)
Two-dimensional semantics is a framework that helps us better understand some of the most fundamental issues in philosophy: those having to do with the relationship between the meaning of words, the way the world is, and our knowledge of the meaning of words. This selection of new essays by some of the world's leading authorities in this field sheds fresh light both on foundational issues regarding two-dimensional semantics and on its specific applications. Contributors: Richard Breheny, Alex Byrne, David Chalmers, Martin (...) Davies, Gareth Evans, Manuel Garcia-Carpintero, Josep Maci`, Martine Nida-Rumelin, Christopher Peacocke, James Pryor, Francois Recanati, Scott Soames, Cara Spencer, Robert Stalnaker, Kai-Yee Wong, Stephen Yablo. (shrink)
This paper concerns the applications of two-dimensional modal semantics to the explanation of the contents of speech and thought. Different interpretations and applications of the apparatus are contrasted. First, it is argued that David Kaplan's two-dimensional semantics for indexical expressions is different from the use that I made of a formally similar framework to represent the role of contingent information in the determination of what is said. But the two applications are complementary rather than conflicting. Second, my interpretation of the (...) apparatus is contrasted with that of David Chalmers, Frank Jackson, and David Lewis. It is argued that this difference reflects a contrast between internalist and externalist approaches to the problem of intentionality. (shrink)
In Meaning and Necessity (1947/1950), Carnap advances an intensional semantic framework on which modal claims are true in virtue of semantical rules alone, and so are a priori. In 'Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology' (1950), Carnap advances an epistemic-ontological framework on which metaphysical claims are either trivial or meaningless, since lacking any means of substantive confirmation. Carnap carried out these projects two decades before Kripke influentially argued, in Naming and Necessity (1972/1980), that some modal claims are true a posteriori. How should (...) a neo-Carnapian respond to Kripke's results? Some (notably, Chalmers and Jackson, in their 2001) have suggested that an extension of intensional semantics along lines of "epistemic two-dimensionalism" can accommodate Kripke's results while largely preserving commitment to the semantics-based a priority of modal claims. Here we consider how best to implement this suggestion, and how the resulting semantics fits with Carnap's second project. We find that the most promising (and most Carnapian!) post-Kripke version of Carnap’s semantics---abductive two-dimensionalism---presupposes an epistemology which undermines Carnap's metaphysical anti-realism. (shrink)
Hartry Field has proposed a fundamental division of theories of linguistic and mental content into those that do, and those that don’t, give a central role to ‘that’-clause ascriptions. Here I investigate the commitments of theories that (in accord with Field’s position) deny ‘that’-clause ascriptions a central role, but (in contrast to Field’s position) give truth conditions a central role. Such non-oblique truth-conditionalism promises significant advantages. However, the stance is costlier than it may appear. Non-oblique truth-conditionalists, I argue, must renounce (...) a priori entitlement to schemas of disquotation that are presupposed when theories of content are put to metaphysical or epistemological use. As case studies, I discuss two theories that might seem to exemplify non-oblique truth-conditionalism: David Chalmers’s two-dimensionalist theory of content and Ruth Millikan’s teleosemantics. (shrink)