Rethinking Language, Mind, and Meaning (Carl G. Hempel Lecture Series)
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In this book, Scott Soames argues that the revolution in the study of language and mind that has taken place since the late nineteenth century must be rethought. The central insight in the reigning tradition is that propositions are representational. To know the meaning of a sentence or the content of a belief requires knowing which things it represents as being which ways, and therefore knowing what the world must be like if it is to conform to how the sentence or belief represents it. These are truth conditions of the sentence or belief. But meanings and representational contents are not truth conditions, and there is more to propositions than representational content. In addition to imposing conditions the world must satisfy if it is to be true, a proposition may also impose conditions on minds that entertain it. The study of mind and language cannot advance further without a conception of propositions that allows them to have contents of both of these sorts. Soames provides it.
He does so by arguing that propositions are repeatable, purely representational cognitive acts or operations that represent the world as being a certain way, while requiring minds that perform them to satisfy certain cognitive conditions. Because they have these two types of content--one facing the world and one facing the mind--pairs of propositions can be representationally identical but cognitively distinct. Using this breakthrough, Soames offers new solutions to several of the most perplexing problems in the philosophy of language and mind.
don’t include restrictions on the way in which the utterance time must be cognitively identified, utterances of these sentences can express and communicate propositions of limited cognitive access that include such restrictions for the same sorts of reasons that utterances of first-person sentences do. So, the cognitive theory of propositions allows the distinction between representationally identical first- and third-person propositions to be extended to a distinction between
how this claim about what he has just realized can be true depends on the existence of a first-person proposition that only he, Rudolf, can entertain. The extension of the case involves adding another amnesiac, Rudolf’s friend Otto, to the story. In the extended case, Otto is read- ing the same story over Rudolf’s shoulder, when he suddenly recovers a portion of his memory. This time, however, the recovered memory is not about the agent who is remembering, but someone else. Otto suddenly
asserted. Since we don’t get these results with standard utterances of (1b) and (2b), we can explain the cognitive and assertive difference between accepting or uttering the (a) sentences versus accepting or uttering the (b) sen- tences, whether or not recognition of recurrence is incorporated as a Millian mode of presentation into any propositions asserted or believed in these cases. If Frege’s puzzle cases require recognition of recurrence to be treated as a Millian mode of presentation,
without changing referential content; they include (i) entertaining a proposition that is itself a predication tar- get (or a constituent of such a target), (ii) first-person cognition, (iii) present-tense cognition, (iv) linguistic cognition, and (v) perceptual cognition. Each of these gives rise to propositions cognitive access to which is limited to only some agents otherwise capable of entertaining, af- firming, and believing propositions. With (i), the limitation excludes
philosophical points above. Thus, verbs like ‘think’, ‘hope’, and ‘expect’ can be added to the list—‘believe’, ‘question’, ‘doubt’, ‘deny’, and ‘learn’—used in this argument. I will return to this issue in chapter 11. 180 ChAPTER 9 “my question that I am such-and-such,” “my doubt that I am such- and-such,” or “my denial that I am such-and-such” as being true, or false either. What is true or false is what I questioned, doubted, or denied, which is the first-person proposition the existence