Advertisement

Philosophical Studies

, Volume 176, Issue 12, pp 3159–3178 | Cite as

Propositions on the cheap

  • Alex GrzankowskiEmail author
  • Ray Buchanan
Article
  • 179 Downloads

Abstract

According to the classical account, propositions are sui generis, abstract, intrinsically-representational entities and our cognitive attitudes, and the token states within us that realize those attitudes, represent as they do in virtue of their propositional objects. In light of a desire to explain how it could be that propositions represent, much of the recent literature on propositions has pressured various aspects of this account. In place of the classical account, revisionists have aimed to understand propositions in terms of more familiar entities such as facts, types of mental or linguistic acts, and even properties. But we think that the metaphysical story about propositions is much simpler than either the classical theorist or the revisionist would have you believe. In what follows, we argue that a proper understanding of the nature of our cognitive relations to propositions shows that the question of whether propositions themselves represent is, at best, a distraction. We will argue that once this distraction is removed, the possibility of a very pleasing, minimalist story of propositions emerges; a story that appeals only to assumptions that are (or, at least ought to be) shared by all theorists in the relevant debate.

Keywords

Propositions Propositional attitudes Unity of the proposition Mental content Representation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We received important suggestions and criticisms from the participants at the worksop on The Role of Content in Mind, Language, and Metaphysics at Birkbeck, as well as at Meanings & Other Things: A Conference Celebrating the Work of Stephen Schiffer hosted by the New York Institute of Philosophy-NYU. We also want to thank audiences at the Birkbeck WIP group, the University of Arizona, UNLV, the University of Manchester, The University of Southampton, and The University of York. Additionally, we have benefited a great deal from conversations and correspondences with Mark Balaguer, Lucy Campbell, Tim Crane, Sean Crawford, Sinan Dogramaci, Frances Egan, Craig French, Laura Gow, Amanda Greene, Bob Hale, Peter Hanks, Cory Juhl, Robert Matthews, Raamy Majeed, Eliot Michaelson, Michelle Montague, Anne Quaranto, Alex Rausch, Gurpreet Rattan, Indrek Reiland, Stephen Schiffer, Jeremy Schwartz, David Sosa, Florian Steinberger, and Crispin Wright. Special thanks are owed to Jon Litland for many very helpful discussions. Finally, we are indebted to an anonymous referee for their helpful suggestions and questions.

References

  1. Bach, K. (1997). Do belief reports report beliefs? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 78(3), 215–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Buchanan, R. (2012). Is belief a propositional attitude? Philosophers Imprint, 12(1), 1–20. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.3521354.0012.001.
  3. Caplan, Ben, Tillman, Chris, McLean, Brian, & Murray, Adam. (2014). Not the optimistic type. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 43(5–6), 575–589.Google Scholar
  4. Collins, J. (2018). The redundancy of the act. Synthese, 195(8), 3519–3545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Crane, T. (1990). An alleged analogy between numbers and propositions. Analysis, 50(4), 224–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. David, M. (2002). Content essentialism. Acta Analytica, 17(28), 103–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fara, DG. (2013). Specifying desires. Noûs, 47(2), 250–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Field, H. (2001). Attributions of meaning and content. In Truth and the absence of fact. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Field, H. (2016). Egocentric content. Noûs.  https://doi.org/10.1111/nous.12141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fodor, J. (1987). Psychosemantics: The problem of meaning in the philosophy of mind. Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frege, G. (1884/1950). The foundations of arithmetic: A logico-mathematical enquiry into the concept of number. Northwestern University Press, translated by J.L. Austin. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Hanks, P. (2015). Propositional content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hale, B., & Wright, C. (2001). The reasons proper study: Essays towards a neo-Fregean philosophy of mathematics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Iacona, A. (2002). Propositions. Name. Geneva.Google Scholar
  15. Keller, L. (2013). The metaphysics of propositional constituency. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 43(5–6), 655–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Keller, L. (2017). Against naturalized cognitive propositions. Erkenntnis, 82(4), 929–946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. King, J. C., Soames, S., & Speaks, J. (2014). New thinking about propositions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Matthews, R. J. (2007). The measure of mind: Propositional attitudes and their attribution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Millikan, R. G. (1984). Language, thought, and other biological categories. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Moltmann, F. (2003). Propositional attitudes without propositions. Synthese, 135(1), 77–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Peacocke, C. (1992). A study of concepts. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  22. Rayo, A. (2005). Logicism reconsidered. In S. Shapiro (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of philosophy of mathematics and logic (pp. 203–235). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Richard, M. (2014). What are propositions? Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 43(5–6), 702–719.Google Scholar
  24. Rosen, G., & Yablo, S. (Unpublished). Solving the Caesar problem—With metaphysics. 2006. Retrieved on July 15, 2018 from http://www.mit.edu/~yablo/home/Papers_files/solvingcaesar.6-07.pdf.
  25. Rumfitt, I. (2016). Objects of thought. In G. Ostertag (Ed.), Meaning and other things. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Schiffer, S. (2003). The things we mean. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schiffer, S. (2016). Response to Rumfitt. In G. Ostertag (Ed.), Meaning and other things. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Soames, S. (2010). What is meaning? Soochow University lectures in philosophy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Soames, S. (2015). Rethinking language, mind, and meaning. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wrigley, A. (2006). Abstracting propositions. Synthese, 151(2), 157–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBirkbeck, University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Texas, AustinAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations