Philosophical Studies

, Volume 163, Issue 3, pp 763–781 | Cite as

On fineness of grain

  • Jeffrey C. King


A central job for propositions is to be the objects of the attitudes. Propositions are the things we doubt, believe and suppose. Some philosophers have thought that propositions are sets of possible worlds. But many have become convinced that such an account individuates propositions too coarsely. This raises the question of how finely propositions should be individuated. An account of how finely propositions should be individuated on which they are individuated very finely is sketched. Objections to the effect that the account individuates propositions too finely are raised and responses to the objections are provided. It is also shown that theories that try to individuate propositions less finely have serious problems.


Propositions Propositional attitudes Possible worlds Structured propositions 



Thanks to Karen Lewis and Kent Bach for helpful comments and suggestions. Thanks also to Ofra Magidor for helpful discussion. A version of this paper was delivered at the Pacific Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association in San Francisco on March 31, 2010. My thanks to the audience for helpful discussion.


  1. Collins, J. (2007). Syntax, more or less. Mind, 116(464), 805–850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cresswell, M. J. (1985). Structured meanings. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  3. King, J. C. (1994). Can propositions be naturalistically acceptable?. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, volume XIX, French, Uehling, Wettstein (Eds.), 53–75.Google Scholar
  4. King, J. C. (1995). Structured propositions and complex predicates. Nous, 29(4), 516–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. King, J. C. (1996). Structured propositions and sentence structure. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 25, 495–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. King, J. C. (1998). What is a philosophical analysis. Philosophical Studies, 90, 155–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. King, J. C. (2007). The nature and structure of content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. King, J. C. (2009). Questions of unity. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, CIX(Part 3), 257–277.Google Scholar
  9. Lewis, D. (1980) Index, context and content. In O. Kanger (Ed.), Philosophy and Grammar. Dordrecht: Reidel. [Reprinted in D. Lewis Papers in Philosophical Logic, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. I use the pagination of the latter here].Google Scholar
  10. Richard, M. (1990). Propositional attitudes: an essay on thoughts and how we ascribe them. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Soames, S. (1987). Direct reference, propositional attitudes, and semantic content. In: S. Soames (Ed.). Oxford University Press, New York. (Reprinted from Propositions and Attitudes, 1988.Google Scholar
  12. Stalnaker, R. (1998). On the representation of context. Journal of Logic Language and Information, 7(1), 3–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

Personalised recommendations