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I. relational theories (Platonic theories) Knowledge has a foundation There are basic objects and facts Objects: The Sierra Facts: That Cicero is an orator That-p The fact that-p The fact that Cicero is an orator Relational theories: linguistic events have a special relation to facts

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I relational theories platonic theories l.jpg

I. relational theories (Platonic theories)

  • Knowledge has a foundation

  • There are basic objects and facts

    • Objects: The Sierra

    • Facts: That Cicero is an orator

      • That-p

      • The fact that-p

        • The fact that Cicero is an orator

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Relational theories:

  • linguistic events have a special relation to facts

  • The linguistic event is right there embracing the fact

    • linguistic events are always successful

      • you can't embrace nothing

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the problem of nonexistent entities

  • Euthydemus Problem: linguistic entity can't embrace nothing

    • linguistic relations are special

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What to do?

  • Obvious strategy for relational theory: introduce something the linguistic entity can embrace

    • Ontological move

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What does this “something” have to do

  • The problem of intersubjectivity

  • Considers Smith's linguistic entity: LE -1

  • Consider Jones linguistic entity: LE -2

    • Both can embrace the same thing

    • temptation is to think that LE1=LE2

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How can they be identical?

  • Must be the case that there's a saying that does not depend on LE1 or LE2

    • it is intersubjective to him without being an objective fact

      • something that is beyond Jones or Smith's particular act

Intersubjectivity l.jpg


  • postulate domain of linguistic events or objects

    • linguistic events embrace these linguistic objects

    • linguistic objects are fact substitutes

      • so

      • LE1 gets at LO1

      • LE2 gets at LO1

        • we have a duplication, facts are duplicated in linguistic objects

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A very ad hoc theory

  • the class or set of linguistic objects

  • the class or set of facts

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  • words in linguistic expressions have meanings

    • It’s obvious

  • the commonsense framework

    • facts have being

    • linguistic objects have being

      • both are objective in the sense that neither depend on you or I

Existence l.jpg


  • linguistic objects are the beings of linguistic events

  • the being of linguistic expressions

    • linguistic objects are what the linguistic events embrace

  • let's call linguistic objects “meanings” for now

    • meanings are the being of linguistic events

      • meanings are real

      • meanings are a community fact

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community fact

  • it is a community fact that “textbook” means something

    • private meanings

      • private meanings are parasitic upon the community

        • Platonism of forms denies that private meanings depend on the community – there aren’t any

          • The Platonic tyranny of ideas

        • The Aristotelian tyranny of logic

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the realm of meaning

  • the realm of meaning is distinguished from the realm of actual objects and facts

    • “W” in English

    • “W” in Spanish

      • these are different but the meanings are the same

        • but meanings do not belong to the actual world

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putting the theory to work

  • consider

    • Jones says George Bush! (as he passes in the market)

    • Jones says that George Bush is president

      • in one case, George Bush is present

      • in the other case, he is not present

        • the first one commits us to saying George Bush!, the second one does not, it only commits us to a fact about the object

  • distinguish say1 and say2

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Say1 and Say2

  • we have ways of pinning the speaker down to

    • what the speaker is talking about

    • what the speaker believes in about it

      • Say1 involves the context in which Bush is present

      • but if Jones says2 that George Bush is president, it’s incorrect to infer that George Bush is present

    • we have ways of pinning ourselves down to being committed to the presence of the object and not just facts about

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  • it seems that "says" can be treated like "seeks"

    • Jones seeks a unicorn does not entail that there is a unicorn

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  • now philosophers come along and confusion reigns

    • when Jones says “George Bush!” And Smith's says “George Bush!”, George Bush is present

      • are both Jones and Smith's saying the same thing is present?

    • Put yourself in the story. You want George Bush right there to both of them.

      • Jones is close, Smith's as far.

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  • Jones sees the hair, the face

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  • Smith's sees G.B. as a politician

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saying of

  • "strictly speaking" we say, "most are saying things about George Bush but what it is that they are saying of him isn't the same"

    • we distinguish between what you are saying of something and that of which you are saying it

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  • but, the key point, is that we are immediately lead to draw distinctions.

    • Distinctions between what we "really" say something about and what we say about it

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a relational theory of reference

  • 1. Some things we talk about directly

  • 2. Some things we don't, but we get at them through a linguistic entity

    • the linguistic object is related to George Bush in some way

    • Picture:

      • James’ mind gets at GB

      • Smith’s mind gets at LO, LO gets at GB

      • Abstract away from the LE

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philosophy of language

  • we are putting things together in the process of reflecting about linguistic activity (including expressions)

    • We mobilize what seems to be necessary features

    • our machinery is shaky

      • philosophers don't care when things are going right, philosophers are negative people

        • Philosophers want things to go bad

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  • we decided to distinguish between what we say something of in the narrow and the broad sense

    • sometimes our linguistic activity is mediated sometimes it isn't (abstracting from LE)

    • Picture:

      • Jones’ Mind direct reference  GB

      • Smith’s Mind LO  GB

    • so there is something getting at George Bush and something getting at the rest

    • Jones really picks out George Bush, Smith gets at facts

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  • floating our armchairs down the linguistic stream, as happy as clams

    • not all situations are correct, sometimes they're mistaken

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  • Suppose Jones is saying something about a nonexistent entity because George Bush has vanished

  • picture:

    • Mind  ?

    • Weird. If whatever is that we are talking about ceases to exist while we are talking about it, is there a phenomenological ripple? Like the matrix, a ripple in which things repeat (like the black cat)?

      • Didn't we start out by claiming that saying is always successful?

        • We could give this up: singular terms don't refer (Russell)

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not exactly

  • reconstruct singular terms

  • picture:

    • Jones’ mind  LO  Person

    • Smith’s mind  LO  Person

  • we can say that they always get at George Bush through the linguistic objects

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what is a linguistic object

  • we can say that it has parts

    • part meaning, part logical form 

      • the unity gets at George Bush


    • we can say that the linguistic object

      • part referential core

      • part meaning

      • part logical form

    • the referential core gets at George Bush with the help of the other two (Searle)

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  • philosophers start to feel uneasy here, armchair philosophy of language feels the pinch.

  • Isn't reference a relationship between object, the environment, the word, in some kind of relation between the speaker in the world?

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Causal theory

  • causal theory is brought in to redress the balance of the world

    • a tree falls, causal vibrations, vibrates the body, we hear a sound.

    • We tell a causal story about how the linguistic object gets tied up to the world that mimics our story about sound.

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Referential core

  • The linguistic object may have two parts

    • referring part

    • meaning

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the referential core

  • when does it have a referential core?

  • Consider this: multiple situations in which Jones finds himself talking about O1.

    • If the linguistic object has a determinable relation in all the situations, it is a name (rigid)

      • if it is invariant, it is a Millian Name

        • put it in terms of possible worlds

        • put it in terms of possible stages of this world

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the account is causal

  • it tells how this determinable relation happens, environmentally speaking.

    • What fixes a world?

    • What determines a different context?

      • Not a problem for the Platonist: the tyranny of forms

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Form and content

  • Removing the mystery from the notion of form and content (a brief aside)

    • We start by looking at the word “quality”

      • Simplest distinction: qualities and relations

        • “Red” is a quality – think of a sentence “a is red”

        • “juxtaposed” is a relation – think of the sentence “A’s juxtaposed with B”

Lo, red!

A is juxtaposed with B

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  • Contrast two kinds of expressions

    • Referring expressions

      • Sometimes called “subject” or “objects”

    • Characterizing expressions

      • Sometimes called “predicates”


the walker with a torch

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  • Consider the sentence “a is red”

    • The sentence contains a referring expression ‘a’

    • The sentence contains a characterizing expression ‘red’

      • We have a predicate and the subject

  • Consider the sentence “a is taller than b”

    • The sentence contains two referring expressions and a characterizing expression ‘is taller than’

      • We have a predicate and two subjects

  • Structure l.jpg


    • The contrast “form and content” is another way of talking about the contrast “structure and content”

      • Most structure concepts are relational

    • The form and content distinction is fundamentally the distinction between relation and quality

    Slide37 l.jpg


    • Why do we need to distinguish between form and content?

      • Don’t take the words too seriously but understand them as part of the story that we tell

      • Anyway, we can’t have a world in which objects stand in relation or have structure but don’t have any qualities or intrinsic character

        • The problem is: what are the qualities?

    Relations l.jpg


    • Things seem to be unpackable as relations

      • We can’t have a world with no relations, with no structure

    • We need relations just as much as we need content

    • We need objects (or subjects) to be in the relations and to have the content!

    Referring expressions l.jpg

    Referring expressions

    • Referring expressions are sometimes called ‘subject’ and ‘object’

    • Contrast these with characterizing expressions, sometimes called ‘predicates’

      • Characterizing expressions can be relational or non-relational “content” expressions

    What s in a name l.jpg

    What’s in a name?

    • Subject or object expressions refer – no problem

    • Relational characterizing expressions don’t refer

      • Why? They offer content

    • Non-relational characterizing expressions express content

      • What counts as content?

    Content l.jpg


    • Non-relational characterizing expressions express content

      • ‘red’, a quality expression, is uncontroversial

      • Whitehead (Russell’s coauthor) thought objects had content somewhat like “feelings”

      • Russell thought content expressions included “the tall stoner in the corner” (he would have said, “the tall man with an overcoat in the corner”)

    Stoners l.jpg


    • What is the limit to a content expression?

      • Do objects have feelings as Whitehead says? Do they have an attitude?

    • Objects with an attitude problem.

      • Why not?

    The sadness in Smith’s face

    Russell s problem l.jpg

    Russell’s problem

    • Relate the discussion last day to Russell

    • Russell knows that we have to separate content expressions from “subject-object” expressions (referring).

      • Why? You can’t refer to the sadness in Smith’s face. Can you?

      • Why not? Because the sadness isn’t there the way that an object is there, it is there the way the redness is there as a content.

        • In a red object, we can refer to its hunkiness but its redness belongs to the content.

          • Compare referring to a pile of sticks vs characterizing it as a ladder – Russell says that we cannot refer to its ladderiety, we need a definite description! “The two rails transected every few feet ....” or whatever.

    Content descriptions l.jpg

    Content descriptions

    • Yes my fellow Americans, definite descriptions express a content

    • Platonists like Russell (Lycan, Kripke, etc.) take for granted that contents must be contents of something

      • Contents cannot be contents of nothing can they?

      • “subject” and “object” expressions provide the referential core for all descriptions

    Referential core45 l.jpg

    Referential core

    • Some LE’s (LE) get at the

      • objects –

        • the object (as color expanses) is present

      • subject/object expressions

    • Notice: in this picture, the object exists only in virtual visual space – matrix space

    Area A represents the private world of visual space, Area B represents the public world of physical space

    Descriptive content l.jpg

    Descriptive Content

    • Other LE’s get at the Facts, F1

      • nothing but the facts

        • Content expressions or definite descriptions

          • ‘The first president to be mired in the middle east’ for GB.

    F1 is a fact about the book: “loved by everyone” The LE is M

    The machinery l.jpg

    the machinery

    • Russell has in mind:

      • (a) is a sensation of red in the private world of visual space brought about by the causal world: a sensum in visual space. The light of the book as causal agent. (b) is getting at the sensum (acquaintance). It gives rise to the LE, M1

        • The LE has the referential core, a, the definite description provides the content

    Reference and description again l.jpg

    Reference and description again

    • Reference is a way of getting at objects

      • Process/product ambiguous

    • Description is a way of providing content

      • Metaphors built on reasonable metaphors

    • What is the difference between a description of Julius Caesar: ‘the man who was assassinated on the Ides of March’, ‘the founder of the Roman Empire’ and a truth about Caesar?

    • Is truth a relational expression or a content expression or neither (normative)?

    Breaking facts apart l.jpg

    Breaking facts apart

    • Consider the sentence ‘this red and rectangular item is the surface’

      • [this red and rectangular item] subject, N

      • [is the surface] predicate, VP

        • What’s up for grabs is (b)

        • (a) isn’t, it’s believed in

      • (a) can be described in all sorts of ways

    Characterizing l.jpg


    • Every character, every way of characterizing, belongs to the right of the copula

    • The ‘this F’ or ‘the F’ part is a picker-outer – a ST

      • For Russell, the sensation gets picked out, he thought sensations were available to be picked out...

    Propositions l.jpg


    • G.E. Moore had a more liberal view: he didn’t separate the two parts

      • Moore talked about apprehending, (b), the fact, F1, that the item is red and rectangular – it is analogous to seeing GB as a politician, a phenomenologically weird idea.

      • Or, seeing that the tractor is plowing the field in a tough sense

      • (a) is the sense datum.

    Bare sts l.jpg

    Bare STs

    • The namers or describers hold that the ‘this’ in ‘this red and rectangular item’ is a bare “this”

      • The ultimate picker-outer

        • No categorizing, no characterizing, just picking

      • Moore, Russell and Kripke ignore the VP but in different ways

        • Relational rigidity requires sheer picker-outers

    • Key theme for the relational view is the directness of the relation between the mind and what is apprehended

    Reference and truth l.jpg

    Reference and truth

    • The pain, (b), is recognized (a), as a throbbing pain. Where the sensation, c, is not up for grabs, it is what it is.

    • The relational theory relies on

      • Directness of apprehending the feeling

      • apprehend directly the fact, F1, that it is pain132

    Essential features l.jpg

    Essential features

    • If you are Russell, you get directly at the pain.

    • If your Moore, you get at a fact about it.

      Two essential features:

      (a) apprehending

      (b) getting at the facts, getting at the Truth, MIB fashion

    Facts and meanings l.jpg

    Facts and meanings

    • Meanings are involved in LE’s to allow that two people can assert/claim the same thing.

    • We posited a domain of meanings. M3 that corresponds to the fact, F3.

    • The fact that Tom is tall, F3, is very close, somehow, to the meaning, that Tom is tall, M3.

    • Are there really facts?

    Ontology l.jpg


    • In our crude theory, we have beliefs that have meaning.

      • Meanings correspond to facts

    • There are propositions

      • Let’s be ontologically promiscuous and say that propositions exist.

    • We say, “sentences express propositions” and we say, two sentences express the same proposition.

    • We say, “two sentences (even in different languages) have the same meaning.”

    Facts and propositions l.jpg

    Facts and propositions

    • Ontological promiscuity

      • One point of view: propositions are like facts.

        • Why not?

          • Maybe they, like facts, are whatever the sentences pertain to.

      • Second point of view: propositions are not like facts

        • Why not?

          • Unlike facts, they can be true or false

      • Are propositions meanings?

        • If so, propositions wouldn’t have meanings (they are meanings).

    Model considerations l.jpg

    Model considerations

    • philosophers don’t obey reality, philosophers make reality

      • Since we are making the model, we can make appropriate changes, mutatis mutandis

    • Propositions are meanings with something like, roughly analogous to, sentential structure

      • Why not?

    Existence59 l.jpg


    • Are there really facts and propositions?

      • In some sense

    • Facts and propositions have parts

      • The word ‘tall’ stands for a quality, the property of being tall or tallness

        • They are STs

      • “that Tom is tall is a fact”

        • It’s a that-clause functioning as an ST

      • ‘tom’ picks out Tom

    Abstracta and concreta l.jpg

    Abstracta and concreta

    • The theory now includes abstract individuals that are qualities, attributes, and propositions: “in the world.”

    • Facts and Tom are “in the world” in a narrow sense - concreta

      • The notion of an individual is that it is properly referred to by a ST, an expression followed by a verb in the singular.

    • Concreta are at the other end from abstracta

      • Concrete individuals that you can step on

    Inflationary l.jpg


    • Facts, relations and properties appear at the top among the meanings Mi, etc.)

    • They appear at the bottom among things that are

      • Our view is “inflationary”:

        • Allows us to talk about cases in which we want to separate tallness and the meaning of ‘tallness’

    Differences l.jpg


    • Meanings of LE’s (sentences) are like facts except meanings can be false, M3, for example, doesn’t correspond to anything.

      • M3 is the meaning being phlogiston or being president Obama

    • Some meanings don’t correspond to anything in the world.

      • When the “meanable” has sentential structure, call it a “proposition”

        •  we can have “propositional meanings” (that Tom is tall)

          • Why not?

      • This will serve as our working definition of “proposition’

    Absolute objectivity l.jpg

    Absolute objectivity

    • Meanings are objective with respect to the individual

      • The objectivity is intersubjectivity

    • Facts are absolutely objective but propositions aren’t

    • Classical view (Plato, Aristotle, moderns, etc.): propositions are absolutely objective but facts aren’t

    • Strong relational theories: props are absolutely objective

      • Moderate view would say they are merely objective

    Expressions64 l.jpg


    • Distinguish referring expressions and characterizing expressions

      • ‘red’ and ‘redness’ are different words, but ‘redness’ is a ST or referring expression.

        • ‘red’ is a characterizing expression

      • Perhaps ‘redness’ is the name of the property for which the characterizing expression stands

    • Let’s run them (the adjective and the noun) together for now – later we could fix this

    Individuals l.jpg


    • ‘tall’ is related to a property, the property of being tall or tallness

    • `being tall’, ‘tallness’ are singular terms

      • Use the word ‘individual’ for items referred to by singular terms

    • In the category of individuals, then, distinguish

      • Concrete individuals, call them “particulars”

      • Abstract individuals: tallness, shortness, triangularity, facts, possibilities

    • STs refer to individuals

    Collection then division l.jpg

    Collection then Division

    • Meanings can be in the world in a broad and narrow sense

      • In the narrow sense, for the relational theorists, are facts, qualities and relations (the color of trees, flowers)

      • In the broad sense, are things like the person in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

    • Take seriously, for now, the view that ‘tall’ and ‘tallness’ are only superficially different

    The person in pursuit of the almighty dollar

    Flowers, trees

    Intendables l.jpg


    • Footnote

    • Philosophers speak of “intention”, “intentionality

      • It’s aboutness: about=intends, the character of being about is aboutness=intentionality, it’s up a metalevel (philosophers are seriously confused about these issues) since we add a –ness, -ity or –hood.

    • Intendables are meanables

    • Believables are mental meanables

    Sentences l.jpg


    • The sentence

      • Taking seriously the suggestion that ‘tall’ and ‘tallness’ are superficially different

      • ‘tom is tall’ involves the property of being tall

        • ‘tallness’ and ‘tall’ simply refer to the same property

          • The grammatical difference between referring and characterizing expressions is superficial

    X is the tallness to which ‘tallness’ refers, (a) the referential relation, (b) the relation of having

    Lists l.jpg


    • What’s the difference between:

      • Tom, to be, tall

        • And

      • Tom is tall?

    • Answer:

      • In the sentence ‘tom is tall’ we commit ourselves the existence of a connection between the referents.

    • Philosophers say, we commit ourselves to the idea that Tom exemplifies tallness

    • Or, with Aristotle Tom has tallness, or, with Plato, Tom participates in Tallness

    See tall Tom dunk!

    Metaphors l.jpg


    • The philosopher of language is sensitive enough to notice that “exemplifies”, “participates” and “inheres” or “has” work in similar ways.

    Inventory l.jpg


    • Start with a fact, that Tom is tall with constituents

      • Attribute Tallness and, of course, Tom

      • These are ground floor realities

    Constituents of Fact, F1, are Tom and Tallness

    Having l.jpg


    • Suppose Ludwig apprehends the fact that an item is rectangular.

      • We have R1, rectangularity, the sense datum, S1 that has it.

      • To put it linguistically, Ludwig says, “the item is rectangular” and he means it.

    • Rectangularity was in our ontological box

    • Many items can have a “share” of rectangularity

    F1, the fact Tallness Tom with constituents

    Sharing l.jpg


    • Rectangularity can be had by many things

      • Things have it, share it, participate in it, exemplify it

        • Take your pick

    • Rectangularity is a one over many things

    • Rectangularity is a One over many minds

      • Many people can have beliefs about it

      • Remember, there is a kind of repetition here (between the domain of representables and reality).

    The One over the many, the instances of the one

    Bradley s puzzle l.jpg

    Bradley’s puzzle

    • Our theory avoids Bradley’s puzzle

      • Lycan’s version leads to problems with relations: each substance, A, has its own piece or chunk of green, say, green59

      • The real version does not: there is a thing that is green59 and here is another that is green59 but, there is really one green59 and each thing exemplifies it

        • A numerically identical universal as opposed to qualitative identity – why not? Bradley treated the hunks of green like “things” otherwise the puzzle wouldn’t work

    • Lycan has an annoying habit of ignoring such things for his own dialectical purposes.

    Lycan’s version: each A has its own personal green, so we generate Bradley’s puzzle.

    The real version: there is only one Green

    Theory additions l.jpg

    Theory additions

    • Language is used in many different ways: exhorting, communicating, complaining, in wimpering about difficult situations

      • Our theory will ignore all these uses of language

      • We concentrate on the context in which we are using language to talk to ourselves.

    • Good explanations don’t start by tackling everything at once

      • Start with a simple model and go from there

        • Avoid trying too much (Gibson calls it the insanity of thinking that everything is relevant)

    Elementary theory l.jpg

    Elementary theory

    (a) is juxtaposed with (b)

    • In our elementary theory, two items, a and b, can be juxtaposed, R.

    • In our first attempt, we took this to mean that Jones was representing a fact, F1 that S1 is juxtaposed with S2.

    Jones represents the fact that S1 is next to S2.

    Linguistically speaking l.jpg

    Linguistically speaking

    • Linguistically speaking, Jones knows the meaning of “S1”, “S2” and F1 by the same means: he gets at them via a special act of referring.

    • Instead of Jones getting at the fact, we could do it another way: introduce another class of qualities.

    • Jones would “get at” R1, juxtaposition.

    • Now our theory extends the relational theory to include higher order entities (universals, mass terms) without losing sight of the fact that such terms have meaning: here they are names.

    • The names stand for what we get at the items as.

    As before, Jones gets at R1, juxtaposition, the two items, S1 and S2 stand in the relation

    Stairway to heaven l.jpg

    Stairway to heaven

    • Naturally, these new relations have certain characters.

      • We can get at these characters too.

      • Our relational theory gets extended

    Q, “being a quality” as a higher order quality of triangularity.

    Relations79 l.jpg


    • We can make the same move with respect to relations.

      • We can have higher order characters of relations too.

    Extensions l.jpg


    • Just as we have expressions that stand for 1st order items, we have expressions that stand for 2nd order items.

      • Our terms mean what they mean because of this.

      • Terms can stand for higher order characters.

      • Not exactly a desert landscape

    • Our theory explains by having a very rich conceptual structure.

    Logical words l.jpg

    Logical words

    • Logical words must be added to our vocabulary: ‘and,’ ‘or,’ ‘not,’ ‘if,’ ‘then’, ‘all,’ ‘some.’

      • Parmenides problem:

        • Logical words do not stand for qualities and relations and do not have instances as do qualities and relations.

      • Parmenides starts out by saying there is no “notness” in the world. Socrates (Plato) takes him to mean that there are no logical relations in the world.

        • Content expressions give content to the world, ‘color,’ ‘shape,’ ‘smell.’

        • Logical words only function in language.

          • How do we learn to use them?

    Notness l.jpg


    • We can’t say that we get at notness.

    • Notness isn’t some sort of weather that isn’t sunny.

    (a) is not (b) but we can’t get at notness, c. Parmenides problem.

    Notness isn’t weather that is not sunny.

    And or not if then all some l.jpg

    And, or, not, if, then, all, some

    • Logical words do not stand for qualities and relations

      • They do not have instances as do qualities and relations

    • ‘Not’ is not a meaningless word, yet it is not a quality or relation.

      • We don’t have sensations of not

    Negativity l.jpg


    • Philosophically, speaking, not is not a quality of things, a relation between things.

      • ‘not’ really functions in the context of the whole sentence: ‘Jones is not tall.”

      • We need a way to distinguish between content notions, subject-predicate notions and the logical connections between propositions.

      • Logical words function in language

    Jones said, “I can see his negativity but my metaphysical microscope cannot detect any notness.”

    Kinds of relationalism l.jpg

    Kinds of relationalism

    • The tough relationalist can say: notness is.

      • Plato tries this: notness is part of the content of the world, ‘notness’ names the not, the other as other, otherness.

    • The mild relationalist could say: “OK, logical words do not name elements in the world. Of course, what we experience are differences and agreements and we idealize and form the notion of logical relation.”

      • The mild rationalist can talk in terms of “abstraction” and “idealization.” Why not?

    • Problem: what kind of account can be given of logical terms functioning in a radically different way?

    Mild relationalism l.jpg

    Mild relationalism

    • The “idealization” move doesn’t really explain anything, “handwaving”

      • How does it explain how we get from the “crude” use of words to the kind of logical use that we find in, say, argumentation and inference?

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    • According to Socrates’ Parmenides, we never experience logical entities, therefore, our ability to understand the meaning of logical words cannot be accounted for in terms of our experience.

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    • One move that we can make with respect to logical words is innatism

      • We have the ability to use logical words, so the mind must be born with innate abilities to use logical words

        • Alternately, it could be born with the abilities to acquire the abilities to use logical words.

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    2nd order abilities

    We might argue that we are born with the innate ability, a, to think and talk about the rectangle, b. The ability is actualized by the experience, c, of the rectangular item.

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    Innate abilities

    • We might argue that there are no innate abilities.

      • There are abilities, a, with respect to sensa, b, that are the abilities to acquire the abilities, d, to talk about rectangles.

    • We could invent all sorts of higher order abilities.

      • The sky’s the limit.

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    Central idea

    • Key idea is that we don’t know the meaning by experience, we never really experience a case of notness, of implicature (Grice’s happy phrase for “implicationhood”)

      • One need not grant that we directly “experience” what logical words “stand for”.

        • We never experience something as implying something.

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    What, what?

    • What do we experience, then?

      • The moderate relationalist would say that what we experience is some kind of semantic activity (an argument).

        • We read into the situation the idea of implicature.

    • Philosophical axiom: a reduction in content is immediately accompanied by an increase in abilities.

      • OR, a decrease of internal relations is always followed by an increase in external relations

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    Mild relationalism

    • Go back to the mild relationalist who claimed that relation words stand for relations, 1st and 2nd order and we can get at them.

    • Why would we be tempted to hold such a view?

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    • Philosophical axiom: There is no position so absurd that is has not been warmly embraced by philosophers.

    • But, in this case, mild relationalism has some plausibility.

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    • Consider the following:

    We find a triangle, T1, the character of being three-sided, C1, and the character of having three angles, C2.

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    Everywhen, everywhere, everyhow

    • What’s interesting here is that C1 entails C2, everywhere, everywhen, everyhow.

      • I.e, the meanings of the words are eternally bound up.

        • Descartes refers to this as a “nexus.”

      • Imagine: here the intersubjective domain of meaning spills out into the objective domain of being.

        • Of course, that’s what Pythagoreanism is all about.

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    What’s the point?

    • Talking about experiencing a nexus makes perfectly good sense, in some sense of sense.

      • C1 and C2 are distinct existences but there is a nexus close by and near to them.

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    Implies, entails

    • “implies” and “entails” are not like nonsense sounds like “ooopahpahdo”.

      • How do we account for that?

    • So, you can see why we embrace higher order relations.

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    Holding the line

    • If we know how to use words for what it is to be a quality, a relation or a possibility, let alone, implication, then, since these are 2nd order, or 3rd order characteristics exemplified by abstract entities, we better get friendly with abstracta.

      • Quine’s program of rejecting them is counterintuitive, bizarre but he accepts sets of sets.

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    The Grand Scheme

    • Consider the grand scheme:

    We find the intersubjective domain of meaning and the domain of the absolutely objective. The latter is whatever it is entirely independent of what we say or think. The domain of meanings is a function of what humans do.

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    The independent

    • Can we throw out the absolutely objective?

      • Aren’t some things absolutely objective?

        • Whether we like it or not, not everything is a product of the way we think.

          • Is the way we think a product of the way we think about how we think?

      • There must be something which is independent of how we use language.

        • Problem is, how do we define the notion?

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    Second thoughts

    • We saw that there is something funny about words like ‘not’, ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘all’, ‘some’, ‘if’, ‘then’.

      • We are completely Parmenidean here: we are not tempted to say that they are something absolutely objective.

        • We have a meaning, not. But is there “notness” in the world?

        • There is round, sweet, and green in the world.

      • It makes sense to say that there is no “notness” in the world, that not is something that exists in the domain of meaning and of language. There is no absolutely objective entity called “not.”

      • Our diagram contains the word ‘not’ and the meaning, the character of negation, negativity or denial.

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    Alternatives to Relationalism

    • Let’s go back to the BE.

      • Hume is a good example.

        • We can mine his position to see how we might deal with the fact that logical words have meaning but no reality. Hume’s popularity comes and goes, at the moment, his star is ascendant.

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    Hume on necessity

    • Hume rejected Descartes’ idea of a nexus.

      • Consider the following cases:

    (a) Is the content of a thought, A or B, and (b) is the thinking.

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    Points of convergence

    • Hume and Descartes would agree with this picture when A and B were separate existences.

    • Differences arise when we argue for a nexus between A and B.

    Descartes: a nexus exists between A and B, a tie, or link (vinculum).

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    Historical review

    • We can’t go forward unless we understand where we have been. Hume’s reaction to Descartes makes sense only in context.

    • Consider the basic Cartesian model of representation:

    A thinking with a content: act-content

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    • The basic model of why it is a representation “of”, its “aboutness” is:

    The representation points toward and object, it “intends” it

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    Simple natures

    • In Rule 12, Descartes tells us that we represent simple natures as connected.

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    • To have the concept of a connection among simple natures is to have the ability to represent it.

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    Complex abilities

    • We have the ability to think of simple natures as connected:

    Notice that in the diagram here, the natures are contained in separate contents – unlike the previous diagram

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    • Descartes’ favorite example:

    The sentence ‘God necessarily exists’ is parasitic upon the proposition (meanable with sentential form) that God necessarily exists. The latter exemplifies a connection between perfection, God, and Existence – “knowing” in its finest hour.

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    Internal connections

    • So, Descartes thought of the thought that they are necessarily connected as a connection between contents, an “internal” or “intrinsic” connection (agreement).

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    Hume’s response

    • Hume rejected all internal relations. He wants to say that what was mistakenly thought of as an Internal relation between contents was really an external relation between acts.

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    Hume’s problem

    • Hume faces a major obstacle: how can he sell the view that everybody got it wrong? It’s God, after all, with a capital “G”.

      • Could thoughts of God be wrong?

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    Hume’s solution

    • Hume rejects the view we constructed earlier that holds that we can perceive higher-order relations within contents

    • Hume also rejects the view that we can experience facts involving these qualities.

      • What’s his picture?

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    Sequences 1

    • Suppose that you have an experience of lightning

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    Sequences 2

    • Followed by an experience of thunder:

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    • Hume argues that, after many such experiences, one sweats with the conviction that thunder follows lightning, i.e., that lightning causes thunder.

    • Hume is confused about this.

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    • It was a nice argument: designed to try to talk people out of the idea that they can experience the fact that items are connected (causally or otherwise).

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    • Look more closely at Hume’s notion of association.

      • Hume’s view is based on the idea that necessity in connection with causality is based on a sequence of observings.

        • You and I feel that it is not so much that, as the necessity involved in the idea that “whenever A then B.”

          • That is, we think of a causal law, we think: whenever A then necessarily B.

          • The necessity involved is related to our entitlement to infer something from something.

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    • The entitlement means that we are entitled to believe it because it is part of the notion of implication (i.e., saying that one thing implies another)

      • To say that if you have reason to accept the one, then ipso facto, you have reason to accept the other.

      • The meaning of necessity is “inferential”

        • It might spill over into Hume’s idea of “conviction” but no “feeling”, however abstract, need be involved.

          • No more than if, upon hearing that your friends just left, you say, “oh, then they’ll be here any minute”.

            • The idea may be comforting but the “sense” of comfort isn’t part of the inference.

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    Entitlement and inference

    • Consider the following sentences, each written on the backs of centipede:

      • All containers with moisture inside get moist on the outside if the sides have holes

      • Skin is a fluid container that gets moist on the outside

  • Written on the back of a centipede, these sentences don’t do anything.

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    Semantic activity

    • But, if get these sentences into our heads and we go from two things we knew to something we didn’t know:

      • Skin has holes.

  • And the activity of being able to do arrive at the last sentence is part of what we count as saying someone understands their sentences.

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    • Semantic activity occurs because the last sentence is directly related to the meanings of the sentences.

      • The semantic activity of the symbols is self-contained, it happens “by itself”.

        • Strictly speaking, the active symbols are the interpreted states of an integrated system within which they are automatically manipulated.

        • Semantic activity of this sophisticated kind rivals the power of the familiar “referential core.”

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    • Recall that you and I feel that it is not so much that a nature or essence is involved when we say ‘A is necessarily connected with B’, as it is the necessity involved in the idea that “whenever A then B.”

      • That is, we think of a causal law, we think: whenever A then necessarily B.

      • The necessity involved is related to our entitlement to infer something from something.

    Meaning l.jpg


    • The point: meaning can enter into discourse as a result of the web of entitlements that are activated as a result of a claim.

      • Meaning need not be parasitic upon a referential core

        • other possibilities occur

      • Hume’s mistake was in failing to have a non-emotive account of the “entitlement”.

        • He could not construct a “normative” account of entitlement

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    • Our world is largely normative: when you and I say, ‘I can pay, I have the cash’, we are cashing out an entitlement.

      • It is part of the complex transactional economy within which we operate that we “can” do the things that we can do.

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