Semantics for Propositional Attitudes

  • Jaakko Hintikka
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 23)


In the philosophy of logic a distinction is often made between the theory of reference and the theory of meaning.1 In this paper I shall suggest (inter alia) that this distinction, though not without substance, is profoundly misleading. The theory of reference is, I shall argue, the theory of meaning for certain simple types of language. The only entities needed in the so-called theory of meaning are, in many interesting cases and perhaps even in all cases, merely what is required in order for the expressions of our language to be able to refer in certain more complicated situations. Instead of the theory of reference and the theory of meaning we perhaps ought to speak in some cases of the theory of simple and of multiple reference, respectively. Quine has regretted that the term ‘semantics’, which etymologically ought to refer to the theory of meaning, has come to mean the theory of reference.1 I submit that this usage is happier than Quine thinks, and that large parts of the theory of meaning in reality are — or ought to be — but semantical theories for notions transcending the range of certain elementary types of concepts.


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  1. 1.
    Donald Davidson, ‘Truth and Meaning’, Synthese 17 (1967) 304–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Quine, From a Logical Point of View, pp. 130–132Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1969

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  • Jaakko Hintikka

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