These are exciting times for philosophical theorizing about propositions, with the last 15 years seeing the development of new approaches and the emergence of new theorists. Propositions have been invoked to explain thought and cognition, the nature and attribution of mental states, language and communication, and in philosophical treatments of truth, necessity and possibility. According to Frege and Russell, and their followers, propositions are structured mind- and language-independent abstract objects which have essential and intrinsic truth-conditions.
Some recent theorizing doubts whether propositions really exist and, if they do, asks how we can grasp, entertain and know them? But most of the doubt concerns whether the abstract approach to propositions can really explain them. Are propositions really structured, and if so where does their structure come from? How does this structure form a unity, and does it need to? Are the representational and structural properties of propositions really independent of those of thinking and language? What does it mean to say that an object occurs in or is a constituent of a proposition?
The volume takes up these and other questions, both as they apply to the abstract object approach and also to the more recently developed approaches. While the volume as a whole does not definitively and unequivocally reject the abstract objection approach, for the most part, the papers explore new critical and constructive directions. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy.
1. Introduction David Hunter and Gurpreet Rattan
Part I: On Act- and Language-Based Conceptions of Propositions
2. Two aspects of propositional unity Gary Ostertag
3. An empirically-informed cognitive theory of propositions Berit Brogaard
4. What are the primary bearers of truth? Peter Hanks
5. Not the optimistic type Ben Caplan, Chris Tillman, Brian McLean and Adam Murray
6. Why it isn’t syntax that unifies the proposition Logan Fletcher
7. Why we should not identify sentence structure with propositional structure Thomas Hodgson
Part II: Constituents and Constituency
8. Individuating Fregean sense Jeff Speaks
9. The metaphysics of propositional constituency Lorraine Keller
Part III: Theoretical Alternatives to Propositions
10. Propositions, attitudinal objects, and the distinction between actions and products Friederike Moltmann
11. What are Propositions? Mark Richard
12. Conversational implicature, communicative intentions, and content Ray Buchanan
13. Propositions and higher-order attitude attributions Kirk Ludwig
Part IV: Modal Metaphysics
14. Unnecessary existents Joshua Spencer
15. Contingently existing propositions Michael Nelson