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Talk: Stefan Rinner (MCMP/LMU)

Location: Ludwigstr. 31, ground floor, Room 021.

16.11.2017 18:00  – 20:00 

Title:

Neo-Russellians and the Goldbach Puzzle

Abstract:


Neo-Russellians like Salmon, Soames and Braun hold that:

(A) The semantic content of a sentence S of a language L in a context c is a structured proposition whose basic components are objects and properties.

(B) The semantic content of 'n is F' in a context c is the singular proposition [o, P], where o is the referent of the name n in c and P is the property expressed by the predicate F in c.

(C) A sentence of the form 'n believes that S' is true in a context c iff the referent of the name n in c believes the proposition expressed by S in c.

This is sometimes referred to as 'the Naive Russellian theory'.

In the first part of this talk, I will argue that the Naive Russellian theory cannot adequately explain that a rational, normal English speaker could be disposed to accept (1) without being disposed to accept (2).

1) Ralph believes Goldbach's conjecture.

2) Ralph believes that every even number greater than two is the sum of two primes.

I will call this 'the Goldbach Puzzle'. In the second part of this talk, I will argue that a similar problem also arises for contextualists like Crimmins and Perry which replace (C) with (C'):

C') A sentence of the form 'n believes that S' is true in a context c iff the referent of the name n in c believes the proposition expressed by S in c under a contextually determined mode of presentation.

Following this, I will argue that we either have to reject (B) or the claim that mental predicates like 'believe' express relations holding between agents and propositions.