The Spring 2017 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Alex Grzankowski (Birkbeck, University of London). The title of Professor Grzankowski's talk is "Toward A Minimal Account Of Propositions," co-authored with Ray Bachanan. (Abstract below.)
Friday, Feb 10, 3-5pm, Maloney Seminar Room, Social Sciences 224.
In recent years the classical view of propositional content has come under considerable scrutiny. The classical account consists of two theses, the Sui Generis Thesis and the Inheritance Thesis.
The Sui Generis Thesis:
Propositions are sui generis, abstract, intrinsically-representational entities that are the objects of our cognitive attitudes, such as believing and desiring.
The Inheritance Thesis:
Cognitive attitudes represent as they do in virtue of their propositional objects.
On this view, propositions are the fundamental bearers of intentionality; our mental states represent direvatively. Recent criticisms of the classical view have largely focused on a particular aspect of (i) - namely, the question of how, if at all, an abstract entity could itself represent. Under the rubric of the problem of propositional unity, theorists such as Hanks, King, Soames, and Speaks have argued that it is mysterious how propositions as traditionally conceived could represent and this explanatory burden leads them to reject both theses of the classical view.
We believe that the story about propositions is simpler than this. The recent revisionary accounts of propositions offered by the aforementioned authors and others aren't just incorrect; they are unmotivated. It turns out that the issue of whether or not propositions represent - intrinsically, or derivatively - is a red herring. Of much more importance is a clearer understanding of the nature of our cognitive relations to propositions - the nature of the propositional attitudes themselves. With that understanding, we motivate a minimal account of propositions according to which propositions are abstractions from mental states that represent the same.