, Volume 166, Issue 2, pp 273-284

Semantic relationism, belief reports and contradiction

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Abstract

In his book Semantic Relationism, Kit Fine propounds an original and sophisticated semantic theory called ‘semantic relationism’ or ‘relational semantics’, whose peculiarity is the enrichment of Kaplan’s, Salmon’s and Soames’ Russellian semantics (more specifically, the semantic content of simple sentences and the truth-conditions of belief reports) with coordination, “the very strongest relation of synonymy or being semantically the same”. In this paper, my goal is to shed light on an undesirable result of semantic relationism: a report like “Tom believes that Cicero is bald and Tom does not believe that Tully is bald” is correct according to Fine’s provided truth-conditions of belief reports, but its semantic content is (very likely) a contradiction. As I will argue in the paper, even the resort to the notion of token proposition, introduced in Fine’s recent article “Comments on Scott Soames’ ‘Coordination Problems’”, does not suffice to convincingly eliminate the contradiction; moreover, it raises new difficulties.