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Pleonastic propositions and the face value theory

  • Alex Steinberg
S.I.: PhilMethods


Propositions are a useful tool in philosophical theorizing, even though they are not beyond reasonable nominalistic doubts. Stephen Schiffer’s pleonasticism about propositions is a paradigm example of a realistic account that tries to alleviate such doubts by grounding truths about propositions in ontologically innocent facts. Schiffer maintains two characteristic theses about propositions: first, that they are so-called pleonastic entities whose existence is subject to what he calls something-from-nothing transformations (pleonasticism); and, second, that they are the referents of ‘that’-clauses that function as singular terms in propositional attitude ascriptions (the face value theory). The paper turns the first thesis against the second: if propositions are pleonastic entities, it is argued, we should not take them to be referred to in propositional attitude ascriptions. Rather, propositional attitude ascriptions should be available as bases for propositional something-from-nothing transformations.


Ontology Propositions ‘That’-clauses Pleonasticism Face value theory Stephen Schiffer 



I’d like to thank Ralf Busse, Katharina Felka, Hanjo Glock, Nick Haverkamp, three referees for this journal as well as the participants of research colloquia in Mainz, Zurich, Constance, Uppsala, Stockholm and Geneva for helpful discussion of the paper at various stages of completion. I gratefully acknowledge support from the University of Zurich’s Forschungskredit (Grant Number FK-16-078).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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