Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 1, pp 141–159 | Cite as

Predication and the Frege–Geach problem

  • Indrek ReilandEmail author


Several philosophers have recently appealed to predication in developing their theories of cognitive representation and propositions. One central point of difference between them is whether they take predication to be forceful or neutral and whether they take the most basic cognitive representational act to be judging or entertaining. Both views are supported by powerful reasons and both face problems. Many think that predication must be forceful if it is to explain representation. However, the standard ways of of implementing the idea give rise to the Frege–Geach problem. Others think that predication must be neutral, if we’re to avoid the Frege–Geach problem. However, it looks like nothing neutral can explain representation. My aim in this paper is to present a third view, one which respects the powerful reasons while avoiding the problems. On this view predication is forceful and can thus explain representation, but the idea is implemented in a novel way, avoiding the Frege–Geach problem. The key is to make sense of the notion of grasping a proposition as an objectual act, where the object is a proposition.


Predication Propositions Representation Frege–Geach Soames Hanks 



I want to thank Stephen Barker, Ray Buchanan, Jonathan Cohen, Daniel Cohnitz, Alex Davies, Chris Hom, Manuel Garcia-Carpintero, Kathrin Glüer-Pagin, Geoff Georgi, Alex Grzankowski, Peter Hanks, Bjørn Jespersen, Jaan Kangilaski, Lorraine Keller, Jinho Kang, Jeff King, Uriah Kriegel, Max Kölbel, Riin Kõiv, Taavi Laanpere, Indrek Lõbus, Marc Moffett, Jeremy Schwartz, Gary Ostertag, Peter Pagin, Bryan Pickel, Francois Recanati, Peter Ridley, Michael Schmitz, Mark Schroeder, Scott Soames, Uku Tooming, and audiences at the Society for Analytic Philosophy in Tartu, the 9th Barcelona Workshop on Issues in the Theory of Reference at LOGOS, Institut Jean Nicod, King’s College London, and the Force, Content, and the Unity of Proposition workshop at University of Vienna/WU Vienna for helpful comments and/or discussion.


  1. Brogaard, B. (2013). An empirically-informed cognitive theory of propositions. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 43, 534–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burge, T. (2010). Origins of objectivity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Campbell, J. (2002). Reference and consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clark, A. (2004). Feature-placing and proto-objects. Philosophical Psychology, 17, 443–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Davidson, D. (2005). Truth and predication. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dummett, M. (1981). Frege: Philosophy of language. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Fodor, J., & Pylyshyn, Z. (2015). Minds without meanings: An essay on the content of concepts. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  8. Forbes, G. (2017). Content and theme in attitude ascriptions. In A. Grzankowski, & M. Montague (Eds.), Non-propositional intentionality. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  9. Glick, E. (2015). Practical modes of presentation. Nous, 49, 538–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Grzankowski, A. (2016). Attitudes towards objects. Nous, 50, 314–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hanks, P. (2011). Structured propositions as types. Mind, 120, 11–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hanks, P. (2015). Propositional content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hom, C., & Schwartz, J. (2013). Unity and the Frege–Geach problem. Philosophical Studies, 163, 15–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jubien, M. (2001). Propositions and the objects of thought. Philosophical Studies, 104, 47–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. King, J. (2007). The nature and structure of content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. King, J. (2009). Questions of unity. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 109, 257–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Matthen, M. (2010). Two visual systems and the feeling of presence. In N. Gangopadhyay, M. Madary, & F. Spicer (Eds.), Perception, action, and consciousness: Sensorimotor dynamics and two visual systems (pp. 105–124). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Moltmann, F. (2013). Propositions, attitudinal objects, and the distinction between actions and products. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 43, 679–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Pavese, C. (2015). Practical senses. Philosophers Imprint, 15, 1–25.Google Scholar
  20. Peacocke, C. (1992). A study of concepts. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Pylyshyn, Z. (2007). Things and places: How the mind connects with the world. Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pylyshyn, Z. (2009). Perception, representation, and the world: The FINST that binds. In D. Dedrick & L. Trick (Eds.), Computation, cognition, and Pylyshyn (pp. 3–48). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  23. Recanati, F. (2017). Force cancellation. In M. Garcia-Carpintero & B. Jespersen (Eds.), Synthese, SI: Unity of Structured Propositions (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  24. Reiland, I. (2013). Propositional attitudes and mental acts. Thought, 1, 239–245.Google Scholar
  25. Reiland, I. (2015). Experience, seemings, and evidence. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 96, 510–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Reiland, I. (2017). Predication and two concepts of judgment. In B. Ball, & C. Schuringa (Eds.), Judgment: Act and object. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  27. Salmon, N. (1992). On content. Mind, 101, 733–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Smithies, D. (2011). What is the role of consciousness in demonstrative thought? Journal of Philosophy, 108, 5–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Soames, S. (2010). What is meaning?. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Soames, S. (2014). Cognitive propositions. In J. King, S. Soames, & J. Speaks (Eds.), New thinking about propositions (pp. 91–126). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Soames, S. (2015). Rethinking language, meaning, and mind. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stanley, J., & Williamson, T. (2001). Knowing how. Journal of Philosophy, 98, 411–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations