Philosophical Studies

, Volume 151, Issue 1, pp 87–113 | Cite as

“Assertion” and intentionality



Robert Stalnaker argues that his causal-pragmatic account of the problem of intentionality commits him to a coarse-grained conception of the contents of mental states, where propositions are represented as sets of possible worlds. Stalnaker also accepts the “direct reference” theory of names, according to which co-referring names have the same content. Stalnaker’s view of content is thus threatened by Frege’s Puzzle. Stalnaker’s classic paper “Assertion” is intended to provide a response to this threat. In this paper, I evaluate Stalnaker’s claim that the causal-pragmatic account of intentionality commits one to a coarse-grained conception of the contents of mental states, and argue that the apparatus laid out in “Assertion” is not sufficiently comprehensive to account for all versions of Frege’s Puzzle.


Robert Stalnaker Intentionality Frege's Puzzle 



Thanks for valuable discussion to Joshua Armstrong, Sam Cumming, Andy Egan, Thony Gillies, Barry Loewer, David Manley, Sarah Moss, Matthew Stone, Eric Swanson, and the audience at MIT’s 30th anniversary birthday party for “Assertion”. Jeffrey King provided comments on the penultimate version, and invaluable input throughout the whole process. The greatest thanks go to Robert Stalnaker. I owe a debt to him for the numerous lengthy conversations about the topics in this paper stretching over many years. He also provided lengthy detailed comments on the penultimate draft that much improved the paper. But the largest debt I owe him is for his body of work. The combination of scope, vision, and argumentative detail it embodies serve as a great inspiration about what one can achieve in philosophy.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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