Synthese 196 (4):1403-1424 (2019)

Francois Recanati
Institut Jean Nicod
Peter Hanks and Scott Soames both defend pragmatic solutions to the problem of the unity of the proposition. According to them, what ties together Tim and baldness in the singular proposition expressed by ‘Tim is bald’ is an act of the speaker : the act of predicating baldness of Tim. But Soames construes that act as force neutral and noncommittal while, for Hanks, it is inherently assertive and committal. Hanks answers the Frege–Geach challenge by arguing that, in complex sentences, the force inherent in the content of an embedded sentence is cancelled. Indrek Reiland has recently objected to Hanks’s proposal that it faces a dilemma: either force cancellation dissolves the unity of the proposition secured by the cancelled act of assertion, or Hanks’s proposal reduces to Soames’s. In this paper, I respond to Reiland by offering an analysis of force cancellation which gets rid of the alleged dilemma. The proposal is based on a set of distinctions from speech act theory : between two senses of ’force’, two types of act, and two types of context. The role of simulation in force cancellation is emphasized, and connections drawn to broader issues such as the evolution of complex language.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1223-9
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,257
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Way of Words.H. P. Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Literal Meaning.François Recanati - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 62 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Force, Content and the Varieties of Unity.Michael Schmitz - 2022 - In Gabriele Mras & Michael Schmitz (eds.), Force, content and the unity of the proposition. New York: Routledge. pp. 71-90.
Predication and the Frege–Geach Problem.Indrek Reiland - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):141-159.
The Redundancy of the Act.John Collins - 2018 - Synthese 195 (8):3519-3545.
Pretense, Cancellation, and the Act Theory of Propositions.Manuel García-Carpintero - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Acts of Desire.Henry Ian Schiller - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (9):955-972.

View all 15 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Unity and the Frege–Geach Problem.Christopher Hom & Jeremy Schwartz - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (1):15-24.
The Unity of the Proposition.Peter Hanks - 2002 - Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
Propositional Attitudes and Mental Acts.Indrek Reiland - 2012 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (3):239-245.
Content, Mood, and Force.Francois Recanati - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (7):622-632.
Propositional Content.Peter Hanks - 2015 - Oxford University Press.
The Content–Force Distinction.Peter W. Hanks - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 134 (2):141-164.


Added to PP index

Total views
121 ( #95,532 of 2,499,775 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #118,219 of 2,499,775 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes