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E INFÜHRUNG IN DIE T HEORETISCHE P HILOSOPHIE : S PRACHPHILOSOPHIE Nathan Wildman

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1 E INFÜHRUNG IN DIE T HEORETISCHE P HILOSOPHIE : S PRACHPHILOSOPHIE Nathan Wildman

2 S OMETHING TO P ONDER Only with Frege was the proper object of philosophy finally established: namely, first, that the goal of philosophy is the analysis of the structure of thought ; secondly, that the study of thought is to be sharply distinguished from the study of the psychological process of thinking ; and, finally, that the only proper method for analysing thought consists in the analysis of language. [...] [T]he acceptance of these three tenets is common to the entire analytical school… (Dummett 1978: 458)

3 M ORE A BOUT R USSELL ’ S T HEORY OF D ESCRIPTIONS Or, the lecture where we discuss a series of puzzles & problems that concerned the Third Earl Russell

4 T HE P LAN (1)Restate the Basics of Russell’s view (2)Russell’s solutions to the Puzzles (3)Strawson’s Objection to Russell (4)Donnellan’s Objection to Russell (5)Evaluation of The Two Pictures

5 R USSELL ’ S O BJECTIONS T O F REGE  ‘Darth Vader is tall OR Messi is the best in the world.’  This disjunction is true ! The argument re-constructed: (1) We can use non-denoting phrases in logically complex expressions. (2) These expressions retain their truth values when a term used therein doesn’t have a referent. (3) Frege would have us say they become truth- valueless. (4) Therefore Frege is wrong.

6 T HE H EART OF R USSELL ’ S O BJECTIONS According to Russell: 1.The meaning of a sentence and the object of a thought is a proposition 2.Propositions are composed of objects and properties a)A genuine proper name contributes the object it stands for b) Predicates contribute the properties/relations they stand for c)If ‘ a ’ is a name for a and ‘ F ( )’ is a one-place predicate that stands for the monadic property F, then ‘ Fa ’ expresses a proposition, composed of a and F.

7 T HE H EART OF R USSELL ’ S O BJECTIONS Russellian propositions : a proposition is a complex consisting of the very objects which are the values of the words which express the proposition The propositions can be either:  Object dependent – when the subject of the sentence is a term that refers to an object  Object independent – when the subject of the sentence is a term that does not refer to an object

8 R USSELL ’ S P OSITIVE P ROPOSAL Propositional functions : functions which take you from phrases to propositions Two ways to ‘complete’ propositional function: (1)With a genuine proper name (2)With a quantifier expression Note that (1) would give us an object dependent proposition, but (2) an object in dependent proposition!

9 R USSELL ’ S P OSITIVE P ROPOSAL One notable kind of quantifier expression: Definite Descriptions  ‘the F is G ’ means (i) There is at least one x which is F ; and (ii) There is at most one x which is F ; and (iii) all F s are G ‘The present king of France is bald’ means:  There is a present king of France; and  There is only one present king of France; and  Everything that is a king of France is bald

10 R USSELL ’ S P OSITIVE P ROPOSAL Everything, nothing, and something, are not assumed to have any meaning in isolation, but a meaning is assigned to every proposition in which they occur. This is the principle of the theory of denoting I wish to advocate: that denoting phrases never have any meaning in themselves, but that every proposition in whose verbal expression they occur has a meaning. (Russell, OD) These terms do not express dependent but rather independent propositions – there need not be a particular object denoted to express a proposition involving one of the above.

11 R USSELL ’ S P OSITIVE P ROPOSAL In ‘On Denoting’, Russell suggests treating empty names as disguised descriptions: A proposition about Apollo means what we get by substituting what the classical dictionary tells us is meant by Apollo, say ‘the sun-god’. All propositions in which Apollo occurs are to be interpreted by the above rules for denoting phrases. (Russell, OD)  Apollo helped kill Achilles  There is an x such that, x is a sun-god, and, for all objects y, if y is a sun-god, then y=x, and x helped kill Achilles.

12 R USSELL ’ S P OSITIVE P ROPOSAL The upshot of this move is that, if the above argumentation is correct, we can understand and evaluate for truth propositions involving empty names:  is false because there is no x which satisfies the definite description! Similarly, we can say that  is false because there is no x which satisfies the definite description!

13 R USSELL ’ S P OSITIVE P ROPOSAL But the Russell of ‘Descriptions’ is more radical: therein, we are told that it is ‘a very rash assumption’ to regard ‘Socrates’, ‘Plato’, and ‘Aristotle’ as genuine proper names. In fact: We may even go so far as to say that, in all such knowledge as can be expressed in words—with the exception of ‘this’ and ‘that’ and a few other words of which the meaning varies on different occasions— no names, in the strict sense, occur, but what seem like names are really descriptions. (Russell, Descriptions)

14 R USSELL ’ S P OSITIVE P ROPOSAL In other words: every singular term is in fact a concealed definite description! (1) Lionel Messi is the greatest living footballer (2) The Argentinian striker who plays for Barcelona is the greatest living footballer (3) There is an x such that, x is an Argentinian striker who plays for Barcelona, and, for all objects y, if y is an Argentinian striker who plays for Barcelona, then y=x, and x is the greatest living footballer

15 R USSELL ’ S P OSITIVE P ROPOSAL One small exception: Logically proper names ! They are particular instances of ‘this’ and ‘that’. For these expressions, if you don’t know the reference, you can’t use the term correctly Importantly, this means that the problematic cases involved in the puzzles could never come up – you’d simply not know the denotation (and thus the meaning) of the term!

16 R USSELL ’ S P OSITIVE P ROPOSAL This gives us Russell’s picture: I.Definite descriptions are quantifier expressions, rather than referring expressions II.All singular terms (barring logically proper names) are concealed definite descriptions Upshot: Singular terms are concealed definite descriptions, the meaning of which is the associated quantifier expression, and propositions involving them turn out to be object independent

17 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS – A N A SIDE ON S COPE Wide scope (primary occurrence) (1a) The present king of France is believed by Frank to be bald. (2a) The present king of France is not bald Narrow scope (secondary occurrence) (1b) Frank believes that the present king of France is bald. (2b) It is not the case that the present king of France is bald.

18 T HE P UZZLES A GAIN (1) Frege’s Puzzle: How can two identity statements differ in cognitive value, if the terms involved refer to the same thing? (2) Predicational Puzzle: How can two predicational statements differ in cognitive value, if the singular terms involved refer to the same thing? (3) Substitution Puzzle : How can a = b but ‘ S believes that a is F ’ not mean the same as ‘ S believes that b is F ’?

19 T HE P UZZLES A GAIN (4) Empty Names Puzzle : how can ‘ a is F ’ be meaningful when ‘ a ’ stands for a non-existing or fictional entity? (5) Law of Excluded Middle : How can it be that, for any formula ϕ, ( ϕ V  ϕ )? (6) Negative Existentials Puzzle: How can ‘ a does not exist’ be true?

20 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS General strategy Definite descriptions, like ‘the F ’, are not genuine singular terms; their function is to describe, not denote  Whether or not anything satisfies a definite description, it is still meaningful  Unlike for Frege, there is no appeal to senses  While ‘the F ’ is the grammatical subject of ‘the F is G ’, it is not its logical subject  The surface grammar misled us into thinking that ‘the F ’ is a singular term, but it’s really a definite description!

21 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS (1) Frege’s Puzzle: How can two identity statements differ in cognitive value, if the terms involved refer to the same thing? (1a) The father of Luke is Vader. (1b) Vader is Vader. ‘The father of Luke’ doesn’t mean ‘Vader’ – rather, it means ‘For some x, x is a father of Luke, and, for all y, if y is a father of Luke, then y = x ’ So (1a), properly translated, says

22 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS (1a’) For some x, x is a father of Luke, and, for all y, if y is a father of Luke, then y = x, and x = Vader Of course, given that singular terms are definite descriptions, ‘Vader’ must also be translated too, e.g. as ‘For some x, x is a Dark Lord of the Sith, and, for all y, if y is a Dark Lord of the Sith, then y = x‘ So, this means that (1a) really says (1a*) For some x, x is a father of Luke, and, for all y, if y is a father of Luke, then y = x, and for some z, z is a Dark Lord of the Sith, and, for all y, if y is a Dark Lord of the Sith, then y = z, and x=z

23 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS (1b*) For some x, x is a Dark Lord of the Sith, and, for all y, if y is a Dark Lord of the Sith, then y = x and for some z, z is a Dark Lord of the Sith, and, for all y, if y is a Dark Lord of the Sith, then y = z, and x=z So translated, it is obvious what the difference between the two is: (1a) asserts that there is one thing that satisfies two different definite descriptions, while (1b) asserts that one thing satisfies the same definite description. Answer : Because the definite descriptions invoked differ!

24 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS (2) Predicational Puzzle: How can two predicational statements differ in cognitive value, if the singular terms involved refer to the same thing?  Clark Kent = ‘the mild mannered reporter’  Superman = ‘the man from Krypton’ (2a) ‘Clark Kent is a reporter’ (2b) ‘Superman is a reporter’

25 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS (2a*) For some x, x is a m. m. reporter, and, for all y, if y is a m.m. reporter, then y = x and x is a reporter. (2b*) For some x, x is a man from Krypton, and, for all y, if y is a man from Krypton, then y = x and x is a reporter.  The difference: (2a) says something that satisfies a particular description and has a further property, while (2b) asserts that something that satisfies a different description possess the property Answer : Because the definite descriptions invoked differ!

26 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS (3)Substitution Puzzle : How can a = b but ‘ S believes that a is F ’ not mean the same as ‘ S believes that b is F ’? Answer : because (i) ‘a’ & ‘b’ are different concealed definite descriptions; and (ii) belief has wide scope (3a) Luke believes that Vader is Vader (3b) Luke doesn’t believe that the father of Luke is Vader

27 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS Two ways to read both (3a’) Vader is believed by Luke to be Vader (3a*) Luke believes that Vader is Vader (3b’) The father of Luke is not believed by Luke to be Vader (3b*) Luke does not believe that the father of Luke is Vader

28 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS Two ways to read both (3a’) Vader is believed by Luke to be Vader. (3a’’) For some x, x is a Dark Lord of the Sith, and, for all y, if y is a Dark Lord of the Sith, then y = x and x is believed by Luke to be Vader (3a*) Luke believes that Vader is Vader (3a**) For some x, x is a farm-boy from Tatoone, and, for all y, if y is a f.b. from Tatoone, then y = x and x believes that for some z, z is a Dark Lord of the Sith, and, for all y, if y is a Dark Lord of the Sith, then y = z and z=z.

29 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS The important point: (3a’’) ’s subject is Vader, (3a**) ’s subject is Luke We want to say something about what Luke believes, so we need to use (3a**) Upshot: it isn’t blatantly contradictory to believe something concerning an object under one designation, but not under another! (Compare what would happen if we used (3a’) & (3b’))

30 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS (3a*) Luke believes that Vader is Vader (3b*) Luke does not believe that the father of Luke is Vader But how can both of these be true? Answer : the difference in the definite descriptions involved! We can apply the lessons from the previous cases and see that the propositions Luke is related are different in the two situations!

31 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS (4) Empty Names Puzzle : how can ‘ a is F ’ be meaningful when ‘ a ’ stands for a non-existing or fictional entity?  The Present King of France is bald Answer : because ‘a’ is a concealed definite description, which means that ‘a is F ’ expresses an object in dependent proposition 

32 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS  This proposition is false, not meaningless  False because there is no x that is a Present King of France Upshot: we can have meaningful talk about things that don’t exist. Even better…

33 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS (5)Law of Excluded Middle : How can it be that, for any formula ϕ, ( ϕ V  ϕ )? Answer : because ‘a’ is a concealed definite description, ‘a is F ’ expresses an object in dependent proposition Recall that the problematic cases involved empty singular terms:  The Present King of France is bald 

34 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS  is false  Because there is no x that is a Present King of France Consequently, is true  Because it is not the case that there is an x that is a Present King of France

35 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS (6)Negative Existentials Puzzle: How can ‘ a does not exist’ be true? Answer : because (i) ‘a’ is a concealed definite description; and (ii) the negation has wide scope.  The consequence of (i) is that ‘a does not exist’ expresses an object independent proposition  Consequence of (ii) is that the expression is true whenever the object denoted doesn’t exist !  The Present King of France does not exist

36 R USSELL ’ S S OLUTIONS Two ways to read: (Narrow):  This ascribes to objects the property of ‘not existing’, which quickly leads to contradiction (Wide):  This doesn’t lead to contradiction, and fits intuitive truth conditions!

37 O BJECTIONS TO R USSELL Two Key Points of Russell’s picture: I.Definite descriptions are quantifier expressions, rather than referring expressions II.All singular terms (barring logically proper names) are concealed definite descriptions Both are employed in his solutions to the puzzles; both have received some rather heavy criticism…

38 S TRAWSON ON R USSELL Strawson holds that, generally, we must be careful to focus upon the actual use of language; this is important because not all putative definite descriptions are used as singular terms: (1a) The whale is a mammal. (1b) Napoleon was the greatest French soldier. However, let’s focus on cases where definite descriptions are used as singular terms.

39 S TRAWSON ON R USSELL Distinguish between sentences/expressions from particular utterances of them and uses of them to assert and to refer  Although the sentence ‘The president is wise’ itself is neither true nor false, it may—depending on when it is uttered —be used to say something (false) about Bush or else used to say something (true) about Obama  Although the expression ‘ the president’ itself does not refer, it may—depending on when it is uttered —be used to refer to Bush or else used to refer to Obama

40 S TRAWSON ON R USSELL Expressions: the meanings of expressions (in particular, singular terms) are rules, habits, and conventions governing their correct uses to refer. The meaning of a singular term is neither its referent, nor a description; instead, the meaning of a singular term is a set of instructions for determining whether a particular use of it refers  Note: a singular term’s referent is what is introduced into the statement made by an utterance  Consequence: singular terms are neither definite descriptions nor logically proper names!

41 S TRAWSON ON R USSELL Sentences. The meanings of sentences are rules, habits, and conventions governing their correct uses to make true or false assertions.  ‘I am tall’ can be used to make a true assertion iff the utterer is tall The meanings of sentences are not the statements they can be used to make; instead, the meaning of a sentence is a set of instructions for determining whether a particular use of it is true.

42 S TRAWSON ON R USSELL Objection from neglect. In general, Russell has focused too much on the meanings of linguistic expressions apart from their uses. By doing so, he has neglected the fact that speakers, not sentences or expressions, assert and refer Pace Russell, the meaning of ‘the F’ is not whatever (if anything) the description describes; instead, it is a set of instructions for how to introduce an object which satisfies the description (this is why a definite description may be meaningful even if it fails to describe anything). Note: This objection is simply Strawson insisting his view is correct. It’s not really an objection!

43 S TRAWSON ON R USSELL Objection from assertion. On Russell’s view, to assert K The present king of France is bald. is in part to assert that there is exactly one present king of France. But even if this is presupposed by one’s assertion of K, it is not part of what is asserted in asserting K. The use of ‘the’ signals that a unique reference is to be made, but does not assert this.

44 S TRAWSON ON R USSELL Objection from spurious uses. Russell’s view says K is false since E There is a present king of France. is false. This is implausible: K is neither true nor false because K presupposes E.  Sentence S presupposes T iff S is either true or false only if T is true.  When a sentence’s presupposition is false, then ‘the question of its truth simply does not arise’.

45 R USSELL ’ S R EPLY These objections stem from the same claim: ‘The F is G’ presupposes the existence of something which is F, while Russell’s analysis requires that ‘The F is G’ entails the existence of something which is F.  A presupposes B iff, if B is false, then A is neither true nor false  A entails B iff it is impossible for B to be false and A true Entailment contraposes, presupposition doesn’t: Contraposition: P → Q iff ¬Q → ¬P

46 R USSELL ’ S R EPLY Strawson finds his account more intuitive. Is it? First problem : it’s easy to find instances where Strawson’s intuition is simply wrong (a) The king of France exists (b) Arsenal won on the King of France’s goal (c) The King of France does not exist

47 R USSELL ’ S R EPLY Second Problem : presuppositions can be cancelled If A putatively presupposes B, we can always assert the joint falsity of A and B: e.g. by saying A is false because B is false. This shows that presupposition simply does not hold, for if it did, the falsity of B would be enough to show that A lacked a truth value.  The king of England came to the reception and so did the king of Norway, but France isn’t a monarchy, so the king of France didn’t come  The king of France isn’t bald, because there is no king of France

48 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION ‘the’ – the centrepiece of Russell’s theory, is ambiguous between attributive and referential interpretations. A speaker who uses a definite description attributively in an assertion states something about whoever or whatever is the so-and-so. A speaker who uses a definite description referentially in an assertion, on the other hand, uses the description to enable his audience to pick out whom or what he is talking about and states something about that person or thing. -Donnellan, Reference & Definite Descriptions

49 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION Attributive : object independent, as on Russell’s analysis; the definite description is true of whoever satisfies the description. Referential : object dependent, as with demostratives; ‘The F’ functions as a singular term, with ‘F’ simply being used to ‘point’ to a particular object that may or may not in fact be F Donnellan’s claim, then, is that, at best, Russell’s account is partial: it completely ignores referential uses

50 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION Suppose we come across Smith foully murdered. I might exclaim, due to the vileness of the scene: M The murder of Smith is insane Now, we don’t know who murdered Smith. But, whomever that is, when I utter M in this way, I am attributing to that person the property of being insane. Donnellan suggests this is an attributive use – it is true just if whoever murdered Smith is insane.

51 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION Suppose we are in court, at the trial of Jones, who is accused of murdering Smith. Jones is behaving quite oddly (i.e. he’s foaming at the mouth, speaking in tongues, etc.). I then assert: M The murder of Smith is insane In this utterance of M, I mean to say something about Jones – namely, that he is insane. But note that this might be the case even if Jones didn’t murder Smith ! Donnellan suggests this is a referential use, true just if Jones is insane, regardless of his relation to Jones

52 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION On Russell’s there is a logical entailment: ‘The Φ is  ’ entails ‘There exists one and only one Φ.’ Whether or not this is so for the attributive use, it does not seem true of the referential use of the definite description. The ‘implication’ that something is the Φ, as I have argued, does not amount to an entailment; it is more like a presumption based on what is usually true of the use of a definite description to refer.... as a theory of descriptions, Russell’s view seems to apply, if at all, to the attributive use only. - Donnellan

53 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION Another example S The sexiest man alive is surprisingly old. Attributive use of S : True iff whoever actually satisfies that description is surprisingly old Referential use of S : True iff whoever I refer to is surprisingly old

54 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION S The sexiest man alive is surprisingly old

55 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION A Third Example T The woman listed as Number 98 in FHM Magazine's 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2011 is quite thin. Attributive : False! Referential : True!

56 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION Upshot: This seems to undercut both of Russell’s main points: I.Definite descriptions are quantifier expressions, rather than referring expressions  Some uses of definite descriptions (specifically, the referential ones), give us object dependent propositions II.All singular terms (barring logically proper names) are concealed definite descriptions  Some singular terms – i.e. referential definite descriptions – aren’t concealed attributive definite descriptions

57 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION This undercuts Russell’s ability to give the answers he does to the Puzzles: Answers to (1) – (3) relied upon unpacking singular terms as concealed definite descriptions Answers to (4) – (6) relied upon definite descriptions not leading us to object dependent propositions

58 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION – A RESPONSE ? As we’ll see in a few weeks, Grice distinguishes between:  Sentence meaning : The truth conditions of a sentence  (Kripke calls this ‘semantic reference’)  Speaker meaning : The proposition the utter intends the audience to entertain  (Kripke calls this ‘speaker reference’) Smith writes a reference consisting of nothing other than ‘Jones has excellent handwriting’. Smith’s sentence means that Jones has excellent handwriting, but readers will understand more. By exploiting context, Smith has communicated a different proposition.

59 D ONNELLAN ’ S O BJECTION – A RESPONSE ? M The murder of Smith is insane expresses an attributive proposition true of whoever is the unique satisfier of ‘ x murdered Smith’, but it can be used referentially to have a speaker meaning which is an object-dependent proposition about, say, Jones frothing at the mouth in court. The object-dependent proposition is communicated because the audience can work out such a proposition because he/she realises that the spectator thinks that the man in the dock is the murderer of Smith, even though he did not say that he was.

60 A N A SSESSMENT – W HERE ARE WE ? o The Naïve Theory is unable to solve any puzzles. o Frege has a nice, lovely system which easily accounts for the first three puzzles. However, he has trouble with (5). Plus, his view forces us into postulating senses. o Russell’s system looks grand at first glance, and has no problem with the puzzles, but he can’t quite seem to account for all the uses of definite descriptions. This might undermine his whole account, in the end.

61 A N A SSESSMENT – W HERE ARE WE ? There is a kind of unifying thesis, underlying both Frege & Russell’s views on singular terms: A singular term links up with its referent in virtue of describing it.  Frege: the mode of presentation captured in the sense determines the referent  Russell: the ‘singular term’ just is a description, and the referent is the thing that fits the description

62 A N A SSESSMENT – W HERE ARE WE ? We might say that both ascribed to The Description Theory of Names (a.k.a. descriptivism ), which says that each name N has the semantic value of some description (be it a logical one, as for Russell, or a mode of presentation, as for Frege. Both are pushed towards this idea because of the first three puzzles: it seems that only by appealing to ‘descriptions’ are we able to account for the apparent difference in semantic content between ‘a’ and ‘b’ when both denote the same object.

63 A N A SSESSMENT – W HERE ARE WE ? What we’ll look at in the next few weeks is a theory that rejects descriptivism; specifically, Kripke’s theory of rigid designation & the associated causal theory of reference If descriptivism is wrong, two questions come up: (1) Reference: What determines what a name refers to?  Kripke’s answer: the causal picture of reference (2) Meaning: What is the meaning of a name?  Kripke answer: names are rigid designators, and the meaning of a name is definitely not it’s sense

64 A F AVOUR (1) How do you find these lectures? a. Too much/too little material being covered? (2) How do you find the reading? a. Too much reading for each week? b. Too little? (i.e. would prefer additional ‘extras’) (3) How do you find the assingments? a. How long do you spend on the assignment? b. Are there too many/too few questions? c. Do the assignments help you understand the reading? (4) What is the worst thing about the class? (5) What is the best thing about the class? (6) If you were running the class, what one thing would you do differently?


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