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A Millian heir accepts the wages of Sinn

  • Author(s): Faccio Lima, Juliana
  • Advisor(s): Salmon, Nathan
  • Falvey, Kevin
  • et al.
Abstract

Propositions have been traditionally taken to play different roles in philosophy of language, most prominently as the meaning of (utterances of) sentences, what determines their truth-value, and the content of cognitive attitudes, like beliefs, desires, etc. In this dissertation I challenge this view. More specifically, I argue that the semantic and cognitive content of proper names are different contents, and offer an alternative theory about their relation.

A first motivation to rethink the relationship between semantic and cognitive content of names is that at first sight, the most well develop theories of the meaning of proper names have prima facie claim over mutually exclusive group of intuitions.

The Millian Theory, according to which the meaning of a proper names is only its referent, explains well intuitions related the meaning and truth-value of (simple) sentences with proper names in the subject position but fails to offer a suitable candidate for the content of cognitive attitudes. In contrast, the Fregean Theory, according to which the meaning of a proper name is a mode of presentation of its referent, seems unable to account for the meaning and truth-value of (simple) sentences with proper names but correctly captures an aspect of proper names related to their cognitive content.

I further argue that we have not been offered good reasons that semantic and cognitive content are the same contents. Most common arguments rely on, as I argue, the false claim that we cannot explain the validity of certain inferences and the truth-conditions of belief ascriptions unless semantic and cognitive content are the same. In light of that, I developed a theory of the semantic and cognitive content of proper names which treats them as different contents. I then argue that it offers a good account of puzzles about belief and belief ascriptions, like Frege's Puzzle, among others. One of the most noteworthy aspect of the the proposed theory is its treatment of belief ascriptions that differ only with respect to the name in the `that'-clause. In my view, we can account for possible difference in their truth-value and explanatory power in action-explanation without relying on claims about pragmatics of belief ascriptions while at the same keeping the belief-relation a binary relation, and the semantic content of co-referential names the same.

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