Sesiones: Bjorn Jespersen

On the Unity of the Proposition that a is an F.
Martes 10 de marzo de 2015, Horario 12:00 a 14:00 horas.
Sala Fernando Salmerón


This talk addresses the unity of the structured atomic proposition that a is an F. I address both the metaphysical problem of how multiple, heterogeneous parts are unified into one whole that has features none of its parts have, as well as how to decompose the whole back into its parts, and the semantic problem of how propositions are related to truth-conditions. I analyze both an empirical and a non-empirical (e.g. mathematical) variant of the proposition that a is an F; for instance, that Pluto is a planet, and that two is prime. The solutions I offer are developed within a realist procedural semantics (Transparent Intensional Logic), which identifies meanings with procedures for obtaining output objects from input objects. My general approach is broadly Fregean, but makes do without the notion of unsaturated objects. I demonstrate how predication holds the key to the unity of at least atomic propositions. Predication is modelled as an instance of the logical procedure of functional application. 


  • Suggested background readings:

1. B. Jespersen: Recent work on structured meaning and propositional unity, Philosophy Compass, vol. 7 (2012), 620-30.

2. M. Duží and B. Jespersen: Transparent quantification into hyperintensional objectual attitudes, Synthese, DOI: 10.1007/s11229-014-0578-z, 1-43.

3. L. Keller: The metaphysics of propositional constituency, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, vol. 43 (2013), 655-78. 



What Can Procedural Semantics Do for the Unity of Structured Propositions?
Miércoles 11 de marzo de 2015, Horario 16:00 a 18:00 horas
Aula Alejandro Rossi


This talk explores what procedural semantics can do for the twin notions of structure and unity. Procedural semantics construes linguistic meaning as a procedure that delineates which objects of which type operate on which other objects of which type so as to yield which yet other objects of which type. I conceive of a multi-part structure as an interlocking system of objects. The two main sources of inspiration are Frege’s notion of Sinn and procedural semantics as known from computer science, where it contrasts with denotational semantics. The contrast, in broad terms, is the contrast between an intensional and an extensional conception of meaning.

My working hypothesis is that predication holds the key to the unity of the fundamental category of atomic propositions in which a monadic property is predicated of an individual, as expressed by “Pluto is a planet” or “Four is odd”. Furthermore, I model predication is an instance of the procedure of functional application; predication is emphatically not a relation. The respective meaning of those two sentences is a procedure that prescribes how to obtain a property and an individual and apply the former to the latter so as to obtain a truth-value. (The truth-value obtained in the empirical example will be indexed to worlds and times.) A noteworthy departure from Frege is that I do not embrace unsaturated entities. His saturation metaphor means simply, in my theory, that certain entities are typed in such a way as to hook up as function and argument and yield a third entity beyond both of them as value. In cases like “Pluto is heavier than Mars” or “5 is larger than 0”, the unifier is still the procedure of functional application. But this procedure does not extend to all cases. The procedure of functional abstraction is called for as a different kind of unifier to unify different sorts of entities. For instance, while the innermost structure of the proposition that Pluto is a planet is the procedure of application, the outermost structure is the procedure of abstraction in order to obtain an empirical truth-condition from a truth-value.

The general metaphysical picture that emerges is this. A rich structure such as a proposition is a case of procedures within procedures, structures within structures, unities within unities. The talk will show how this procedural approach avoids the two classical pitfalls of underdetermining structure as a mere list or sequence and adding on unifiers endlessly. The solutions will be framed within Tichý’s neo-Fregean Transparent Intensional Logic.


Actualizado Mar 03 de 2015
Mar 24 de 2017
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