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Language and Thought

Language and Thought

John L. Pollock
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Language and Thought
    Book Description:

    Most philosophical theories of language have assumed that statements (products of assertion) and propositions (objects of belief) are the same things. John L. Pollock denies this, maintaining that even when the speaker is perfectly sincere, what he is thinking need not be the same thing as what he is saying.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5648-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. Preface
    (pp. x-xiv)
  4. I The Statemental Theory of Meaning
    (pp. 1-39)

    Most philosophical theories of language fit into a tradition which attempts to explain various aspects of language by relating language to thought. This tradition is represented by a number of theories which differ in their details but agree in general outline. I will refer to all of these theories as ‘versions of the traditional theory of language’. The theory takes its main impetus from Frege, but other proponents of the theory have included Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, C. I. Lewis, J. L. Austin, P. F. Strawson, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Montague, John Searle, David Lewis, David Kaplan, and others. The...

  5. II Traditional Theories of Proper Names
    (pp. 40-54)

    The basic objective of the next three chapters is to give an account of the meanings of singular terms, i.e., of singular referring expressions. We will begin our investigation of singular terms by investigating proper names. As with any meaningful lexical item, the meaning of a proper name is constituted by whatever determines its contribution to the meaning of sentences containing semantical occurrences of it. Thus the meaning of a proper name is given by giving a general account of the meanings of sentences containing proper names.

    It was suggested in Chapter One that a singular term is used to...

  6. III The Meaning of a Proper Name
    (pp. 55-105)

    We can distinguish between three levels of theories regarding proper names: (a) a theory of referring; (b) a theory of sense; (c) a theory of meaning. If we look at a simple sentence of the form ┌NisF┐ whereNis a proper name: (a) a theory of referring will tell us what determines to what we are referring by using a proper name when we utter this sentence and thereby make a statement; (b) a theory of sense will tell us what statement we are making on different occasions of uttering this sentence; and (c) a theory of...

  7. IV Singular Terms
    (pp. 106-127)

    Thus far our discussion of reference has focused almost exclusively on proper names. However, we are interested in singular terms in general. Our theory of meaning for proper names can be readily generalized to other classes of singular terms. Some of the main classes of singular terms in English are: definite descriptions; the demonstratives ‘this’ and ‘that’; the impure demonstratives ┌thisD┐ and ┌thatD┐ (e.g., ‘this book’); the token reflexives ‘I’, ‘here’, and ‘now’; and the pronouns ‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘it’. There are special problems associated with the token reflexives, but the rest of these singular terms can be...

  8. V The Traditional Theory of Predicates
    (pp. 128-139)

    Predicates have not been supposed to create nearly so many difficulties for the traditional theory of language as have singular terms. In fact, it has often seemed that the source of the difficulties for singular terms lay primarily in the fact that traditional theories of language were tailor-made for predicates and the attempt to fit proper names and other singular terms into those theories occurred mainly as an afterthought. Having dealt with singular terms, the reader may feel that there is little that needs to be said about predicates because they are adequately treated by the traditional theories. It will...

  9. VI Synthetic Predicates
    (pp. 140-165)

    We seek a theory of meaning for predicates. It is convenient to begin by looking exclusively at synthetic predicates. Furthermore, it will be helpful to initiate the investigation by asking a somewhat easier question, viz., what determines the extension of a synthetic predicate? The answer to this question will lead us, eventually, to an account of meaning for synthetic predicates.

    Let us simplify our discussion as much as possible by considering a synthetic predicate which is not ambiguous. Such a predicate has just one extension. This extension consists of the class of all objects satisfying the predicate. How do we...

  10. VII Nonsynthetic Predicates
    (pp. 166-174)

    Having dealt with synthetic predicates, it may seem that it is now trivial to give an account of analytic predicates. The reason it was difficult to deal with synthetic predicates was that synthetic predicates do not express concepts. According to the traditional theory of predicates, all predicates should express concepts, but synthetic predicates do not accord with that theory. However, it may seem that analytic predicates are precisely the predicates that do fit the traditional theory, and hence little needs to be said about them.

    In fact, the situation regarding analytic predicates is more complex than one might initially suspect....

  11. VIII The Alethic Modalities
    (pp. 175-187)

    The traditionalde dictoalethic modalities includenecessary truth, a priori truth,andanalyticity.The first two have generally been regarded as propositional modalities and the third as a sentence modality. We now have a third kind of entity intermediate between sentences and propositions—statements. We can also define alethic modalities for statements. The purpose of this chapter will be to explore various features of these alethic modalities in the light of our preceding theory of language and thought.

    We can reasonably take the propositional modalities to be the fundamental ones, with the statemental and sentential modalities being defined in...

  12. IX Doxastic and Epistemic Sentences
    (pp. 188-209)

    Doxastic and epistemic sentences are notorious for creating difficulties for theories of meaning. The objective of this chapter is to present a theory of meaning for such sentences which is compatible with our account of the meanings of singular terms and predicates.

    There is a traditional analysis of doxastic and epistemic sentences which must be rejected. It goes as follows. The objects of knowledge and belief are propositions. Given a sentencePand an occasion on which it is used to express a proposition, let ¶Pbe the proposition it expresses (“the proposition thatP”). LetΒbe the concept...

  13. X Languages, Institutions, and Conventions
    (pp. 210-238)

    By virtue of what does a linguistic item have a particular meaning? The standard answer is that meanings are assigned by rules of language, and these rules are conventional. But in what sense is a language governed by rules and in what sense are the rules conventional?¹ Philosophers have sought illumination by comparing languages with games. More recently, they have come to talk of languages asinstitutions.² In contemporary philosophical parlance, an institution is said to be a system of rules defining a practice. The rules of the institution define the various roles that one can play within the institution,...

  14. XI Stating
    (pp. 239-252)

    Two central notions of the theory of language developed in this book are those of stating a statement and sending a proposition. The main purpose of this chapter is to propose analyses of these notions. In the next chapter, related analyses will be proposed for questioning, commanding, and requesting. The basic idea behind the analysis of stating is that to state something is to commit yourself to it in a certain way. To make a statement is to offer a kind of guarantee to your audience. You are in some sense accountable for making a false statement. This basic idea...

  15. XII Nondeclarative Sentences
    (pp. 253-264)

    By adeclarative sentencewe mean a sentence which can be used for stating. Philosophers tend to concentrate exclusively on declarative sentences, and that has constituted the principal focus of the present investigation. It is desirable, however, to generalize our theory to apply to nondeclarative sentences too, e.g., interrogatives, imperatives, etc. That can be done without too much difficulty.

    Let us begin the construction of our general account of meaning by reconsidering our identification of the meaning of a declarative sentence with itsS-intension. In order to understand the meaning of a declarative sentence, one must know that it is...

  16. Appendix: A General Statemental Semantics
    (pp. 265-288)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 289-294)
  18. Index
    (pp. 295-297)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 298-298)