Act-Based Conceptions of Propositional Content

Act-Based Conceptions of Propositional Content : Contemporary and Historical Perspectives

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The notion of a propositional content plays a central role in contemporary philosophy of language. Propositional content makes up both the meaning of sentences and the content of propositional attitudes such as belief. One particular view about propositional content has been dominant in analytic philosophy, namely the Fregean conception of propositions as abstract mind-independent objects that come with truth conditions. But propositions in this sense raise a range
of issues, which have become a center of debate in current philosophy of language. In particular, how should propositions as abstract objects be understood and how can they represent things and be true or false? A number of philosophers in contemporary analytic philosophy as well as in early analytic
philosophy and phenomenology have approached the notion of a propositional content in a different way, not by starting out with an abstract truth berarer, but by focusing on cognitive acts of agents, such as acts of judging. It is in terms of such acts that the notion of a propositional content, on their view, should be understood.
The act-based perspective historically goes back to the work of Central European philosophers, in particular that of Husserl, Twardowski, Meinong, and Reinach. However, their work has been unduly neglected and is in fact largely inaccessible to contemporary analytic philosophers. The volume presents a central selection of work of these philosophers that bear on an act-based conception of philosophical content, some of which in new translations (one paper by Reinach), some of which
published in English for the very first time (two papers by Twardowski).
In addition, the volume presents new work by leading contemporary philosophers of language pursuing or discussing an act-based conception of propositional content. Moreover, the book contains a crosslinguistic study of nominalizations for actions and products, a distinction that plays a central role in the philosophy of language of Twardowski.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 408 pages
  • 165 x 242 x 31mm | 675g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0199373574
  • 9780199373574

Table of contents

I Historical Perspectives
Chapter 1- Husserl, Edmund: Excerpts from Logical Investigations
Chapter 2 - Meinong, Alexius: Excerpts from On Assumptions
Chapter 3 - Reinach, Adolf: Excerpts from On the Theory of the Negative Judgment (with an introduction by Mark Textor)
Chapter 4 - Twardowski, Kazmierz: The Psychology of Thinking
Twardowski, Kazmierz: Theory of Judgment
Twardowski, Kazmierz: Actions and Products. Some Remarks from the Borderline of Psychology, Grammar, and Logic.
Chapter 5 - Miskiewicz, Wioletta: The theory of objects in On Actions and Products. A note on the translation
Miskiewicz, Wioletta: 'On Actions and Products (1911) by Kazimierz Twardowski: its historical genesis and philosophical impact.

II Contemporary Perspectives
Chapter 1 - Soames, Scott: For Want of Cognitively Defined Propositions. A History of Insights and Lost Opportunities
Chapter 2 - Fiengo, Robert: Austin's Cube: The Speech Acts of Asserting
Chapter 3 - Hanks, Peter: Propositions, Synonymy, and Compositional Semantics
Chapter 4 - Moltmann, Friederike: Cognitive Products and the Semantics of Attitude Verbs and Deontic Modals
Chapter 5 - Textor, Mark: Judgement, Perception and Predication
Chapter 6 - Ripley, David: Bilateralism, Coherentism, and Warrant
Chapter 7 - Gerner, Matthias: Actions and Products Worldwide
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Review quote

This important collection gives Anglophone contemporary philosophers of mind and language access for the first time to historical and current writing defending the view that the notion of an act, rather than a propositional content, is fundamental in explaining propositional attitudes and their linguistic expression. Collectively the essays provide a substantial philosophical and linguistic challenge to unexamined doctrines that we have inherited. The volume deserves
and will repay detailed attention. * Chris Peacocke, Columbia University and the Institute of Philosophy, London University *
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About Friederike Moltmann

Friederike Moltmann is senior researcher at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and at New York University. She has published numerous articles in both linguistic and philosophical journals and is author of Parts and Wholes in Semantic (OUP,1997) and Abstract Objects and the Semantics of Natural Language (OUP 2013).

Mark Textor is professor of philosophy in King's College London. He works on history of philosophy, especially analytic philosophy, philosophy of language and mind. His book Brentano's Mind is forthcoming with OUP.
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