Pleonastic propositions and de re belief

Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3529-3547 (2020)

Abstract

In The Things We Mean, Stephen Schiffer defends a novel account of the entities to which belief reports relate us and to which their that-clauses refer. For Schiffer, the referred-to entities—propositions—exist in virtue of contingencies of our linguistic practices, deriving from “pleonastic restatements” of ontologically neutral discourse. Schiffer’s account of the individuation of propositions derives from his treatment of that -clause reference. While that -clauses are referential singular terms, their reference is not determined by the speaker’s referential intentions. Rather, their reference is determined in a top-down manner—in Schiffer’s words, “by what the speaker and audience mutually take to be essential to the truth-value of the belief report.” While this accounts for a deep disanalogy between belief reports and other relational propositions—a disanalogy emphasized by Schiffer—I argue that the proposal runs into trouble when we consider the case of de re belief. I close by showing how a modification of Schiffer’s approach—one differing in essential ways from the theory developed in Things—is capable of handling these difficulties.

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Gary Ostertag
CUNY Graduate Center

References found in this work

The Things We Mean.Stephen R. Schiffer - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
Quantifying In.David Kaplan - 1968 - Synthese 19 (1-2):178-214.
Frege's Puzzle. [REVIEW]Graeme Forbes - 1987 - Philosophical Review 96 (3):455.
Frege’s Conception of Numbers as Objects.Crispin Wright - 1983 - Critical Philosophy 1 (1):97.

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