Sunday, October 29, 2006

I am expecting to expect an expectation.

In Seeking a Centaur, Adoring Adonis: Intensional Transitives and Empty Names Richard’s preliminary set up for success structures is this:

ss’s are an abstract representation of (the domain of) the sorts of situations in which the goals of my hunt are satisfied.

A hunt’s goals determine the collection of pairs <w,s>.

w is a possible world.
s is representing the sets of things found, and is a subset of w’s domain.
g is the goal of the hunt.

So, s is in the extension of g at w.

In addition:
“There are analogs, to success structures for hunts, among many of the events and states picked out by intensional transitives. A few examples:
Suppose I am in a state of expectation. That state will be realized my having an attitude to one or more mental sentences of roughly the form NP will so and so. For example, I expect ‘two hurricanes will occur next week, and no tornadoes will occur’. The NP subjects—‘two hurricanes’, ‘no tornadoes’—are let us say, the themes of my state of expectation. A structure , such that, for each theme t of my expectation, s is in the extension of t at w, provides an abstract representation of (the domain of) a situation in which my expectations are fulfilled. If, for example, is a success structure for my weather expectation, s will contain two hurricanes (from w) and no tornadoes.” (110)

Now given this set up and example there are two basic questions I have in regards to the functionality of the structure.

If my g is expecting, then is my ss obtained only when ‘I expect so and so’? It seems to be according to this structure. But this strikes me as a bit odd. Not wrong, but odd. When I make the statement ‘I expect two hurricanes will occur next week, and no tornadoes will occur’, the expectation doesn’t seem to be what I wish to express as the goal of the statement. When ‘I expect so and so…’ the idea behind the expectation is that the NP subjects (or the t) will or will not be fullfilled. Expectation statements are stasis like, they hold the NP in place until the NP are or are not determined. The expectation is not the ‘thing’ that my statement wishes to have as its goal, it is the ‘so and so occur (or don’t occur)’ that should be thought of as the goal.

What happens when one of the t (themes) of my NPs change? According to the above if a t changes (say you changed from a statement which replaces a hurricane to a tsunami) and s is in the extension of t. Then the s must change as well (at least most of the time). But, it is the goal that is supposed to determine the collection of pairs <w,s>. So, what happens when the s changes and there is no longer an agreement between the g and the pair that it is supposed to determine? Say for example in the case of changing a hurricane to a tsunami where the expectation of a tsunami is guaranteed. So it is no longer appropriate to ‘expect a tsunami to occur’ rather ‘a tsunami will occur’. It seems then that the pair <w,s> force the g to be determined, not the other way around. Or does changing any of the pieces of the structure mean that a new ss needs to be constructed?

Seeking Atlantis: A lesson in Ampliation

Noneism holds that we can interact (that is, have a form of relationship with) non-existent objects. Priest gives us our first in-depth look into this noneism in chapter 3.2. I will clarify his use of Buridan’s sophism using insights from the appendix (3.7.1).
Buridan’s sophism reads “A non-being is understood” (57). Some may find it interesting that Buridan denies this sophism, though Priest cites him as a noneist. How could Buridan deny this sophism while claiming “the Antichrist is understood” is true? Surely we know that there was no Antichrist (literally speaking) in Buridan’s day, so to Buridan the Antichrist would appear to be a non-being. This would lead to a contradiction (the non-being is not understood & the non-being is understood).
Buridan’s way out of the contradiction was to deny that the Antichrist was a non-being, though he did not exist at the time. A non-being, Buridan held, is only that which is impossible (71). For example, the chimera that is concomitantly composed of the essences of lion, goat and serpent is a non-being. In contrast, non-existent beings (note the subtle difference in expression), like the Antichrist, could be the predicates of meaningful sentences. How? With the accompaniment of verbs that ampliate.
Priest says, “The standard classes of object to which ampliation allowed access were the past, the future, and the possible” (70). Ampliation is done by changing the tense of the verb, or designating possibility with a word like “can”. These ampliating verbs are the key to allow us to talk about non-existent beings. For example, the truth value of the sentence “Plato is walking” is false, because it looks to find the actual man designated by the proper name “Plato”, who obviously does not still exist. But when we change the verb to its past participle, the sentence “Plato walked” becomes true. Because the tense associates the subject to the realm of past events and objects, it is said to ampliate.

Monday

Please bring the handout on Elmer's Befuddlement and objections to Fregeanism with you on Monday if you have it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

only existent boys&girls get presents

Priest presents a symantics in which non-existent objects can satisfy predicates in the same manner as existent objects. Thus Homer can worship Zeus even if Zeus doesn't exist, because there's nothing wrong with the two satisfying the intentional predicate Whz. However, Priest adds that most normal predicates are existence entailing, that is, only existent objects can satisfy the predicate. In footnote 6 on page 59 he states: "Consider the predicates 'x is transparent' and 'x is opaque'. These are both existence entailing. Hence, if x does not exist, 'x is transparent' and 'x is opaque' are both false"
This is an intuitive notion. After all, how can non-existent things have these properties? If we were able to actually assert things like "vampires are blood-drinkers" than we'd all have reason to fear vampires.
This view also poses a few problems. Statements like "Zeus is strong", "Zeus is bigger than Homer" etc. all come out false. Essentially, Homer is worshipping an entity that has no properties. This doesn't seem quite right either. For instance, is it correct to say that Thor has no hammer?
The easy answer would be yes. Zeus and Thor don't exist, so they are not strong and neither has a hammer. They are non-entities, but they remain distinct and retain meaning because they satisfy different intentional predicates. Thus, it is false to say that Thor has a hammer, but it is true to say in the scope of an intentional operator "We imagine Thor to have a hammer", or in the scope of an intentional predicate "I like the hammer that belongs to Thor" (3 place predicate). Thus Thor and Zeus are non-entities, but they do have distinct identities. Like the comic on the blog says: "Mind you, I don't mean just plain nothing. Not nothing nothing. But nothing as something.".
While this would work, it would be symantically annoying to spell out. We couldn't speak of nonexistent entities as having properties, we could only speak of them as being concieved as having certain properties. I suggest a simplification to the symatics. Instead of a predicate being existence entailing, let it be existence restrictive. This would mean, for these predicates, they must be satisfied by either all existing objects, or all non-existent objects. So if Kxy = x kicked y then it would be fine to say something like "Zeus kicked Hades" since neither Zeus nor Hades exists. However, you can't say "Zeus kicked Priest" since Priest exists, and Zeus does not. This would allow a more intuitive expression of sentences involving fiction and mythology and such. "Harry Potter found the philosopher's stone" would not need to be (as it shouldn't need to be) converted into an intentional context to be understood.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Millianism, Propositional Guises, and the Hooded Bugsy

I'd like to flesh out the idea of propositional guises a bit more. Consider the example from class, where I utter (1) and you utter (2):

1. You are a student.
2. I am a student.

There is a clear sense in which (1) and (2) say the same thing (in the case where I'm addressing you). According to Millians, and others, this sense is respected by assigning the same proposition to our utterances, one that we might represent as an ordered pair of you and the property of being a student.

In virtue of so uttering, each of us assert the proposition that x is a student, under an assignment of you to 'x'. The assertion relation is two-place; it's a relation between an individual and a proposition. But it is intuitive that we assert the proposition in different ways; you do it by uttering (2) and I do it by uttering (1).

So there are various ways in which one can assert a proposition. If S sincerely asserts P then S believes P. So corresponding to ways of asserting P are ways of believing P--those ways in which P can be asserted. These ways are relevant to behavior--partly in virtue of the way you accept the proposition that you are a student, you have to do assignments, etc., and partly in virtue of the way I accept the proposition, I do not.

Additionally, it's plausible to suppose that in order to believe P, one must be in some internal mental state, which we can call a 'belief state'. A belief state is a state of your brain (or mind); believing is a relationship between you and a given proposition. Belief states may differ by having different causal roles; being in one belief state may dispose you to do or say or accept certain things. This opens the possibility of their being several distinct belief states, being in any one of which is sufficient for believing that P. We could say these belief states are propositional guises, or ways of believing propositions.

If belief states involve tokens of mental sentences, then just as different natural language sentences express the same proposition, different mental sentences may express the same proposition. Then one may believe a proposition by having a mental sentence with the right sort of causal role (we may say the mental sentence occupies your "belief box"), while witholding belief from that same proposition by entokening a different mental sentence with the same propositional content though that mental sentence is not in one's "belief box".

On the simplifying assumption that natural language sentences are propositional guises, one believes a proposition by accepting some sentence or other that has that proposition as its semantic content. (This is roughly what Salmon's (BEL) says.) But one may grasp another sentence that has the same content as the first and not accept it.

This is what Salmon thinks Elmer is doing in the Hooded Man. He grasps and accepts 'Bugsy is dangerous' when thinking of Bugsy as his friend, so he believes the proposition that Bugsy is dangerous. But on the Millian view, this entails that he believes the proposition that Bugsy is dangerous when thinking of Bugsy as the criminal, though he understands and does not assent to 'Bugsy is dangerous' when thinking of Bugsy in that way. To grasp a sentence but assent to neither it nor its denial is necessary and sufficient for witholding belief, in Salmon's sense (under the assumption that natural language sentences are propositional guises). So Elmer believes Bugsy is dangerous, does not suspend belief with respect to that proposition (since that would entail not believing it), and witholds belief in that proposition when taken in a different way.

No one can believe and fail to believe the very same proposition. Elmer believes it on Salmon's view, but there's more to the story--more that cannot be told without introducing a technical notion of witholding belief that depends on grasping but neither accepting nor rejecting a certain sentence. Thus, Salmon rejects (4) of the Hooded Man argument.

New Readings: Paradox of Nonexistence

For the next section of the course, please read Priest Chapter 3, 3.1-3.4, Caplan Empty Names chapters 1 and 2, Braun, "Empty Names, Mythical Names, Fictional Names", Salmon "Nonexistence", and if you wish, Richard, "Seeking a Centaur, Adoring Adonis: Intensional Transitives and Empty Terms." (Note: I often have trouble opening Caplan's pdf files. If this happens to you, right click on the link and click 'Save Target As' or 'Save Link As' depending on which browser you're using.) You do not need to read all of these for next class. They are readings for the next section of the course. We will begin with Priest on the Hooded Man paradox and move on to the paradox of nonexistence. You do not need to read all of the Salmon paper. There are points where Caplan and Braun refer to it; it may be helpful for you to have the Salmon paper in order to check out the relevant passages, but it is not necessary to read all of it. For your comment paper, please write on Priest's response to the Hooded Man or some aspect of the paradox of nonexistence discussed in Priest, Braun, Caplan, or Salmon. You're welcome to comment on Richard if you are some kind of glutton for punishment. Comment on this post or contact me if you have further questions.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Do Frege and Christopher Columbus Wear Horned Helmets?

I will do my utmost to defend Fregeanism against the Semantic Objection from Error. The objection, as posted below on the weblog, goes:

“Suppose S authoritatively associates being-the-first-European-to-land-in-America with ‘Christopher Columbus’.

18. a If descriptivism is correct, then in S’s language, ‘Christopher Columbus’ refers to some Norse sailor.
b. It’s not the case that in S’s language, ‘Christopher Columbus’ refers to some Norse sailor.
c. Therefore, descriptivism is not correct.

This objection denies (iv).”

Now, it seems that the Fregean will hold to premise B, so I will focus my attention on proving why premise A is wrong. First of all, let us look how the proper names and properties expressed in the problem fit within the rules of (SDT).

Remember that:
Where P is a property, C is a condition, S is an agent, N is a proper name, O is an object, and L is S’s language.

Now let’s begin:
i. P satisfies condition C.
In our case, P = “the-first-European-to-land-in-America”. We must enquire as to whether this satisfies the condition C. We will look only at Frege’s Condition C, as I am defending the strictly Fregean thought (and not successors):

Fregean constraint on P: P must be a purely general property. (Frege held that only purely general properties are constituents of Thoughts; objects themselves are never constituents of Thoughts.).
It is obvious that “the-first-European-to-land-in-America” fits the Fregean constraint. Now, for ii.

ii. S believes that there is exactly one thing that is P.
Naturally, there is exactly one thing that can be “the-first-European-to-land-in-America”. So the problem does not arise here. Let’s see if iii is a problem:

iii. S authoritatively associates P with N.
That “S authoritatively associates being-the-first-European-to-land-in-America with ‘Christopher Columbus’” is what we are assuming, so there can be no problem here. As for iv, it is the rule that is apparently denied. It says:

iv. N refers to O in L iff O is the one and only thing that is P.
Applied, it reads “Christopher Columbus refers to some Norse Sailor(O) in Language iff some Norse Sailor is the one and only thing that is “the-first-European-to-land-in-America”.
As stated in the objection, rule (iv) is where things get ugly. I do not think it is coincidence that in (iv), we are also introduced to the first instance of O. What is O?
Obviously O denotes the object, the material thing referred to when we speak a proper name. But more subtly, when we introduce O to the equation, it makes (iv) operate like a hypothetical syllogism. It works like this:
1. N --> P
2. P --> O
3. Therefore, N --> O.

The problem with this is that we have not established the link from P-->O in any of the prior rules. In fact, the Fregean condition on (i) states that the property cannot be an object. But is it not simply acting as a synonym of an object in this example? In essence, the problem arises from competing claims of O and N for the property “the-first-European-to-land-in-America”.
My solution is this: the rules of SDT say nothing about the link from P-->O. The Fregean will escape difficultly (by denying the syllogistic form) if he denies outright #2, that one can link a property, like “the-first-European-to-land-in-America” to the physical Norseman. An alternative would be to turn the syllogism inside out, like such:
1. P-->N
2. N-->O
3. Therefore, P-->O
While the Fregean could still say of “Christoper Columbus” that he was “the-first-European-to-land-in-America”, he would in the example not say that this “Christopher Columbus” referred to a Norseman. Now, this solution would still allow for one to say of the man x that they were “the-first-European-to-land-in-America”, but this would first require a relation between the person’s proper name and its properties, and a relation between his proper name and the object.
Likely, this inversion of reference will have some chaotic repercussions, but who knows? Maybe it presents a true way out for the Fregean.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Modal&Epistemic objections (comment paper)

Consider the folowing as presented in the Blog:
(11) If Twain exists, then Twain is the author of HF. (12) If the author of HF exists, then the author of HF is the author of HF.

Modal Objection (discussed in class)13. a. If descriptivism is correct, then (11) is synonymous with (expresses the same proposition as) (12).b. If (11) is synonymous with (12), then (11) is necessarily true iff (12) is.c. It’s not the case that (11) is necessarily true iff (12) is.d. Therefore, descriptivism is not correct.This objection denies (v).Epistemic Objection (discussed in class)14. a. If descriptivism is correct, then (11) is synonymous (expresses the same proposition as) (12).b. If (11) is synonymous with (12), then (11) is a priori iff (12) is.c. It’s not the case that (11) is a priori iff (12) is.d. Therefore, descriptivism is not correct.This objection denies (v).

As I see it, premise c may be attacked in either of these objections. Stipulation iii in the schema (S authoritatively associates P with N) throws a relativistic slant on the whole situation. 11 and 12 would have to be changed to:
(11*) If Twain exists, then Twain is the author of HF, by S’s conception of ‘Twain’ and ‘author of HF’
(12*) If the author of HF exists, then the author of HF is the author of HF, by S’s conception author of HF.
These shouldn’t present any real damage to the theory, since the sense of a name or definite description is what is meant to fix the referent anyway. It could even be argues that these additions are necessary, since we need to know in what sense the names are taken to examine the sentences. But now consider premise c of the objection: “It is not the case that 11* is necessary iff 12* is”. Let’s look at these sentences necessitated:
(11n) In any possible world, by S’s conception of ‘Twain’ and ‘author of HF’, if Twain exists then Twain is the author of HF.
(12n) In any possible world, by S’s conception of ‘author of HF’, if the author of HF exists, then the author of HF is the author of HF.
Considering S has authoritatively associates ‘Twain’ and ‘author of HF’, 11n will be true iff 12n is true (in each world considered, Twain is the author of HF). This would make 11* necessary iff 12* is necessary.
We can run a parallel argument for the epistemic objection. Keep 11* and 12* as they are. Consider the following:
(11a) It is evident upon contemplation that by S’s conception of ‘Twain’ and ‘author of HF’, if Twain exists then Twain is the author of HF.
(12a) It is evident upon contemplation that by S’s conception of ‘author of HF’, the author of HF is the author of HF.
As before, considering S authoritatively associates ‘Twain’ and ‘author of HF’ that 11a is true iff 12a is true. In 11a one does not need to investigate to know its truth, one merely has to know S’s conception of ‘Twain’ and ‘author of HF’. If that is not enough for a-priority, then 11a may be changed to 11a*:(11a*) It is evident upon contemplation that by S’s conception of ‘Twain’ and ‘author of HF’ being authoritatively associated, if Twain exists then Twain is the author of HF. However, I think 11a* may be seen as equivalent to 11a, since we must know the senses of each name in order to examine the sentence anyway. That is, if one authoritatively associates ‘Twain’ with ‘the author of HF’ then it is apparent upon contemplation that 11 is true.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why Propositions Can't Be Sets of Truth-Supporting Circumstances

It might be of interest to note that Soames has very recently posted a short paper responding to a criticism of his 'Direct Reference, Propositional Attitudes, and Semantic Content' that we read for last week. The new paper contains a summary of the main argument in the paper we read. So it might be useful as an overview of what Soames was up to in the (1987) paper.

Fregean Descriptivism

In class we discussed Fregeanism and some objections to Fregeanism from Priest and Kripke. In this post I will present a general version of Fregeanism as well as some further problems for the view. Feel free to defend Fregeanism from one of these objections for your comment paper for this week.

The following is a schema for Description Theories of the meaning of proper names (SDT):
Where P is a property, C is a condition, S is an agent, N is a proper name, O is an object, and L is S’s language:

i. P satisfies condition C.
ii. S believes that there is exactly one thing that is P.
iii. S authoritatively associates P with N.
iv. N refers to O in L iff O is the one and only thing that is P.
v. There is a predicate, F, and a language L’, such that:
a. L’ is an extension of L, and
b. F expresses P in L’, and
c. N in L is synonymous with “the F” in L’.

Clause (i) is designed to place substantive conditions on the relevant property.

Clause (i) is schematic because different theories provide different constraints, although all theories must provide some such constraint.

Minimal constraint on P: the constraints must allow descriptivists to block the relevant instances of Frege’s Puzzle (and the Hooded Man paradox) and must not be circular (i.e., 'the referent of 'N'').

Fregean constraint on P: P must be a purely general property. (Frege held that only purely general properties are constituents of Thoughts; objects themselves are never constituents of Thoughts.)

(As a historical note, Bertrand Russell also at one point held a view that amounted to a version of (SDT). Russell offered a different constraint on P from Frege, however: Russellian constraint on P: P may be a relational property, restricted to items with which one is directly acquainted; i.e., one’s self and one’s current experiences, and properties exemplified in one’s current experiences. Note that the arguments from Kripke equally threaten Russell's version of (SDT). Russell held this view in no small part because of considerations like the Hooded Man.)

Clause (iii) claims that there is some property that S authoritatively associates with N. Most people associate some property with (e.g.) ‘Twain’, i.e., that he is a human, a writer, an American, etc. Roughly, S authoritatively associates P with N if S holds that in worlds in which nothing is P, the referent of N does not exist. (Note: it need not be the case that everyone that is competent with N associates the same property with N, although all of those speakers might share a single public language. On such a view, ‘L’ picks out a speaker’s idiolect rather than any public language.)

Clause (v) is intended to relax the constraint that the definite description that is synonymous with a given proper name in L is expressible in L.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that some more sophisticated descriptivists deny that there is a single property that speakers authoritatively associate with a proper name. Rather, the occurrences of ‘P’ in (i-v) should be replaced with ‘P1-Pn’, to reflect their conviction that the referent of N in L is the object that satisfies a weighted majority of P1-Pn. (John Searle held (holds?) this sort of view, for instance.)

Descriptivism and Frege’s Puzzle (also applicable to the Hooded Man, as we saw):
Suppose that S authoritatively associates being-the-author-of-HF with ‘Twain’ and being-the-most-famous-person-from-Hannibal-Missouri with ‘Sam Clemens’. Consider (3) and (4):

(3) Kant believes that Twain is the author of HF.
(4) Kant believes that Clemens is the author of HF.

The descriptivist can readily explain the difference in truth value between (3) and (4); they express different propositions. According to descriptivism, (3) and (4) are synonymous with (5) and (6), in S’s language:

(5) Kant believes that the author of HF is the author of HF.
(6) Kant believes that the most famous person from Hannibal, MO is the author of HF.

Since (5) and (6) express different propositions, they can differ in truth value. Since the complement clauses of (5) and (6) express different propositions, they can differ in informativeness, a prioricity, analyticity, and rational speakers could reasonably think that they differ in truth value.

Donnellan, Kaplan, and Kripke have offered modal, epistemic, and semantic objections to descriptivism.

Suppose S authoritatively associates being-the-author-of-HF with ‘Twain’. Consider (11) and (12):

(11) If Twain exists, then Twain is the author of HF.
(12) If the author of HF exists, then the author of HF is the author of HF.


Modal Objection (discussed in class)
13. a. If descriptivism is correct, then (11) is synonymous with (expresses the same proposition as) (12).
b. If (11) is synonymous with (12), then (11) is necessarily true iff (12) is.
c. It’s not the case that (11) is necessarily true iff (12) is.
d. Therefore, descriptivism is not correct.

This objection denies (v).

Epistemic Objection (discussed in class)
14. a. If descriptivism is correct, then (11) is synonymous (expresses the same proposition as) (12).
b. If (11) is synonymous with (12), then (11) is a priori iff (12) is.
c. It’s not the case that (11) is a priori iff (12) is.
d. Therefore, descriptivism is not correct.

This objection denies (v).



Semantic Objections: Ignorance and Error
Ignorance

Suppose S only associates being-a-physicist with ‘Richard Feynman’. Then:

15. It’s not the case that S believes there is only one physicist, so (ii) is false.
16. It’s not the case that S associates a definite description with ‘RF’, so (iii) is false.
17. ‘RF’ refers to RF in S’s language, so (iv) is false.


Error
Suppose S authoritatively associates being-the-first-European-to-land-in-America with ‘Christopher Columbus’.

18. a If descriptivism is correct, then in S’s language, ‘Christopher Columbus’ refers to some Norse sailor.
b. It’s not the case that in S’s language, ‘Christopher Columbus’ refers to some Norse sailor.
c. Therefore, descriptivism is not correct.

This objection denies (iv).

In addition to modal, epistemic, and semantic objections, Salmon has identified problems Fregeans have with apparently de re beliefs. (This is not unrelated to Priest's objection that we considered.) So suppose the following is the case:

19. Locke is thinking of Leibniz that he is tall.

(19) is formalized in the variable-quantifier idiom as (20):

20. There is an x such that x = Leibniz and Locke believes that x is tall.

(20) is true only if (21) is true under an assignment of Leibniz to 'x':

21. Locke believes that x is tall.

But (21), in turn, is true only if Locke bears the belief relation to the semantic content of (22), under an assignment of Leibniz to 'x':

22. x is tall.

The sole semantic content of a variable under an assignment, however, is the object that satisfies the formula under that assignment (the variable's referent). So the semantic content of (22) under the relevant assignment is an object-involving proposition, one that we might represent as an ordered n-tuple of Leibniz himself and the property of being tall. If this is correct, then no purely general Thought involving only properties (concepts/senses) is such that believing it is sufficient to make Locke's de re belief true. So if any de re belief is true, Fregeanism is false.

The next problem is also due to Salmon. Consider (23) as uttered by you:

23. Aristotle believed that Plato was wise.

If Fregeanism is correct, (23) expresses a Thought that we may represent as follows:

24. [s Aristotle s, s believed s, ss Plato ss, ss was wise ss]

(23), in turn, is true iff Aristotle bore the belief relation to [s Plato s, s was wise s], on Frege's view.

Now consider which properties you authoritatively associate with 'Plato'. They almost surely differ from whatever properties Aristotle authoritatively associated with the Greek translation of 'Plato', if any. So in your mouth, 'Plato' expresses [s Plato s]. But in Aristotle's mouth, the Greek translation of 'Plato' expressed [s* Plato s*], where this indicates whatever sense it was that Aristotle managed to express.

As we noted, [s Plato s] is distinct from [s* Plato s*]. But since your utterance of 'Plato' expresses the former rather than the latter, your utterance of (23) is true iff Aristotle bore the belief relation to [s Plato s, s was wise s]. But surely he did not. If anything, he bore the belief relation to a Thought involving [s* Plato s*]. So your attribution of a belief to Aristotle that Plato was wise is false if Fregeanism is correct. But it's not false. So Fregeanism is incorrect.

Finally, Kripke pointed out in "A Puzzle About Belief" that things only get worse when we consider attitude ascriptions with quantified subjects. Consider (25):

25. Most late 19th century Germans thought that Hegel was smart.

Not only does your sense of 'Hegel' differ from theirs, but theirs differed from each other. If the Germans' thoughts about Hegel were adequately diverse, there may be no descriptive property common to all of their "Hegel Thoughts" at all--much less any common to yours. So even if the previous problem were somehow avoided so that (23) came out true, the truth of (25) on Frege's view requires attributing highly diverse beliefs to the 19th century Germans. But (25) does not attribute highly diverse beliefs to them; rather, it says that most of them had some belief in common. Fregeanism gets the wrong result, even assuming the previous difficulty is met. So the view is incorrect.

Oh yeah, and Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Quine. (That is not a separate objection to Frege.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Preliminaries on how to make a Kettle of Fish without the kettle or the fish.

As stated in the post (and broken up), on Frege’s view, sentences of the form:

(1) a = b

and

(2) s believes that a is F

do not imply

(3) s believes that b is F

This is because, as also mentioned in the post, according to Frege, once a proper name (the ‘a’ or ‘b’) is used within the scope of an intentional verb it is to be thought of as being connected to the reference of the sign and the sense of the sign. Or, as put by Frege:

“It is natural, now, to think of there being connected with a sign (name, combination of words, letter), besides that to which the sign refers, which may be called the reference of the sign, also what I should like to call the sense of the sign, wherein the mode of presentation is contained.”(p.24)

But why do we need to have such a complicated explanation of a sign or proper name within the scope of an intentional verb? Why do we need both sense and reference?

On Frege’s view, when evaluating a sign within an intentional context a very complicated reaction is taking place in which the sign corresponds or expresses its sense, which stands for or designates its reference. But this is not all:

“We are therefore driven into accepting the truth value of a sentence as constituting its reference. By the truth value of a sentence I understand the circumstance that it is true or false. … Every declarative sentence concerned with the reference of its words is therefore to be regarded as a proper name, and its reference, …is either the True or the False.”(p.29)

So, this means that, the sense (or mode of presentation) of ‘a’ in (2) is not necessarily the same as the sense of ‘b’ in (3). The mode of presentation of (2) can be different than (3), for Frege. And, in effect you can have different truth values for (2) and (3).

For Frege the inference in the SI or paradox case is not false, it is invalid. The truth of (1) and (2) does not imply or transfer to (3). In other words, one is a different kettle of fish than the other and should therefore not be eaten together. So, according to Priest’s analysis, Frege avoids the problems presented by SI because, ‘a’ and ‘b’ in statements (2) and (3) are not interchangeable because their senses are different. He then concludes that: “(In a sense then, the failure of SI is merely syntactic, since we are not dealing with co-referring expressions.)” (p.40)

Loosely Frege does reject a syntactic version of SI in intentional contexts, but not all contexts. And because it is not in all contexts, the conclusion of Priest on behalf of Frege that ‘we are not dealing with co-referring terms’ is a little hasty and is far too simply put to capture what Frege’s view really is.

Priest seems to be half heartedly agreeing that we should reject a syntactic version of SI. But why? I believe part of the answer can be found in footnote 9 on p. 41 of Priest, in which he finds difficulties with accounts “which makes it impossible for a variable to bind inside and outside an epistemic context simultaneously in the natural way.” This is what he sees as the one of the unfortunate conclusions facing Frege’s account. As he illustrates with the inference and conclusion found on p. 41. According to Priest, on Frege’s view, one cannot maintain a person as an individual concept. (As a side note, I think this is a great misinterpretation of Frege’s view, and that perhaps a different take on both the account as a whole and the particular section in which he discusses subordinate clauses might change and in fact help Priest in constructing a solution to the SI problem.)

So, part of Priest’s view is that he wishes have variables that bind both inside and outside an epistemic context simultaneously. He rejects a syntactic version of SI, because he does not want co-referring expressions. If they are co-referring then the variable contained therein cannot be bound both inside and out simultaneously. The key word here, simultaneously. As he later explains he wishes to have “cases of true sentences where one quantifies into an intentional context, but where no instantiation is to be found.”(p. 43). And the only way for him to do this is to have substitutional quantification in both ordinary and intentional contexts. You cannot have substitutional quantification if the expressions are co-referring.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Frege, Priest, Salmon, and Soames

For next time (Oct. 16) please read the Soames article distributed in class as well as Salmon's Frege's Puzzle, chapters 1,4,7,8. (These can be skimmed; ch. 1 contains a statement of Salmon's "naive view", 4 a discussion of Frege's puzzle, and 7 and 8 outline sophisticated versions of the puzzle as well as Salmon's proposed solution.)

The Hooded Man paradox and Frege's puzzle are formally similar; arguably, the former is an instance of the latter. So any adequate solution to one should be an adequate solution to the other. Frege, Priest, and Salmon/Soames all advance different solutions to the puzzles. (See here and the discussion in Priest chapter 2 for Frege's reply.)

Priest notes that he and Frege reject SI in intentional contexts. But it's worth noting that Frege doesn't really reject SI. On Frege's view, sentences of the form, a = b and s believes that a is F do not imply s believes that b is F. So a version of SI that applies to sentences is false on Frege's view. But just denying that the inference is valid with respect to some sentences does not get to the heart of the matter. Frege's view, roughly, is that when 'a' occurs inside the scope of an intentional verb, it does not express and refer to what it would express and refer to outside the scope of an intentional verb. So not all occurrences of 'a' and 'b' in the foregoing argument have the same meaning. So the inference is invalid.

Priest rejects Frege's view and argues against it in Ch. 2. So one important question is what, exactly, is Priest's view? It, like Frege's, involves rejecting a syntactic version of SI. But Priest obviously rejects Frege's proposal for why it fails. So what is Priest's view?

Salmon and Soames take a different approach to the puzzles. They reject the Frege/Priest response. Is their reply better than Priest's? Are there independent reasons for thinking the Salmon/Soames view is false? One reason might be given on pp. 36, fn. 5 of Priest. Is the objection there sound? In addition, it may be the case that each of Frege, Priest, Salmon, and Soames are wrong about how to respond to the puzzles. Is there any reason to think there's a better reply? If so, what is it?

Finally, there is a prominent tradition in semantics of construing propositional attitudes as relations to sets of circumstances. Assuming bivalence and law of excluded middle, we can identify what's meant by 'p' in (e.g.) 's believes that p' with a set of circumstances--the set of circumstances in which 'p' is true. Soames argues at length against this approach. But the approach seems to be adopted by Priest; we can identify the complement of an attitude verb in Priest's system with the set of possible, impossible, and open worlds in which it is true. So do Soames's arguments work? In particular, do they show that Priest's semantics for intentional operators is incorrect?

These are all difficult questions that would benefit from discussion. Feel free to comment on this post with any thoughts about Frege, Priest, Salmon, or Soames.

Also, have a happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Hurried Hoodwink?

It is the section 2.4 of Towards Non-Being where Priest preliminarily introduces and discusses The Paradox of the Hooded Man. It is this discussion that I wish to hurriedly focus on and how he lays out an analysis the paradox. Then question a few of the moves or assumptions (I indicate the sections with *s) he makes in analyzing the paradox and perhaps more importantly how his ‘handling’ of the Hooded Man foreshadows his plans for handling propositions.

The paradox begins:

This man is your brother.
You do not know this man.
You do not know your
brother.

The problem in the paradox above is readily seen. It is that the premises are true but the conclusion appears to be false. This can’t be right, so perhaps it is because the second premise is false. Afterall it is more so the case that you don’t know who the man is when wearing the hood. So reformulated:

This man is your brother.
You do not know who this man is.
You do not know who your brother is.

But yet again this can’t be right because you do know who your brother is. Which means the conclusion is still false. So what to do? Priest recommends that we should take a look at what it is to ‘know who’. To know who someone is context dependant. It is to know different bits and bobs about the person. It is to ‘know that’ about the someone. So we can replace ‘know who’ with ‘know that’. It this case the ‘knowing that’ is ‘being born in Megara’:

This man is your brother.
You do not know that this man was born in Megara.
You do not know that your brother was born in Megara.

Priest now moves on to a discussion of the demonstrative ‘this man’ found in the paradox. He notes that: “The denotation of a demonstrative depends on context. In this case, the referent of the demonstrative is fixed by the intention of the utterer. But if the context does not change, the denotation of the demonstrative does not change, and the same role can be played by a name referring to the object in question.”(35) So Priest christens (ha, ha…) ‘this man’ Nescio. Giving Nescio the status of a rigid designator in the Kripke sense where the expression designates the same ‘Nescio’ in all possible worlds.*

So the way things now stand are:

Nescio is your brother.
You do not know that Nescio was born in Megara.
You do not know that your brother was born in Megara.

And because Priest loves a good contraposition… it can be rewritten and simplified as:

Nescio is your brother.
You know that Nescio was born in Megara.
You know that your brother was born in Megara.

“And with this version of the argument, we cannot avoid the problem, as we did the original, by saying that you do know that Nescio was born in Megara; you just don’t realize this. For you certainly do realize that your brother was born in Megara.”(36)*

After a couple of other examples of the same kind, Priest then concludes that the paradox “has nothing to do with knowledge as such. It is an issue about the behaviour of identity in all intensional propositional contexts.”(37)*


My queries from top to bottom:

Priest claims that “The denotation of a demonstrative depends on context. In this case, the referent of the demonstrative is fixed by the intention of the utterer.” Really!? Always!? Say I agree with Priest on this and play the context game… then if:

To say, the denotation of a demonstrative depends on context, is to say that:

The ‘knowing that’ of ‘this man’ depends on context, which in this case are the bits and bobs known by the utterer (brother being asked questions in the room).

But:

To say, the referent of the demonstrative is fixed by the intention of the utterer, is to say that:

The ‘knowing who’ of ‘this man’ is fixed by the intention of the utterer.

So in the first part the utterer is responsible in a way for fixing the context in which his ‘knowing that’ depends on. Whereas in the second part, the intention of the utterer cannot be fixed to the referent of the demonstrative.

It seems to me that the context of true knowledge is staying stable in the first part but not in the second because there is no true knowledge being fixed by the intention of the utterer. No wonder there is a problem… the epistemic context is not ‘fixing’ to all parts of the paradox. Perhaps we should not depend on context for fixing the truth to knowledge?

This brings me to the second point where Priest introduces the rigid designator, Nescio.

This is an understandable move, why not avoid the whole issue of demonstratives being fixed by context and have a rigid designator that points to the same thing under all circumstances? So now ‘this man’ turns into Nescio. But as the further Hooded Man formulations show there is a problem, or rather the same problem as at the beginning. There is a gap between the knowledge of Nescio and ‘your brother’ to the utterer.

What I don’t understand is if you want to have a situation in which all the components agree, in essence, intention agreeing with the denotation, or the ‘knowing that’ and ‘knowing who’, then why not look to the questioner. He’s the one who is controlling or adding the context to the demonstrative. He’s the one pointing to ‘this man’ and ‘your brother’. And if so, then we can change both to rigid designators and avoid at least some of the paradoxical problems.

The last little query is his claim that the whole issue has nothing ‘really’ to do with knowledge. Overall I agree, but not for the reason that it is because knowledge in case can be replaced with all intentional operators and the problem still arises. He uses believe, fear and desire as substitutions. Hummmmm…. How do I fear, desire, ect., without knowing that I do? Priest even admits that even those intentional operators are forms of knowledge in section 2.8 with the tomato example.

In the end The Hooded Man is a hoodwink of sorts. I agree with Priest that is not a discussion of knowledge, and I’ll add the context of that knowledge. But, the promise that it is about ‘the behaviour of identity in all intensional propositional contexts’…. Hummmm……

Comment Paper 3

For comment paper 3, please either:

1. Provide proofs for both Closure Under Entailment and Intentional Barcan Formula in Priest

2. Write a comment paper on Chapter 2.