Quotational Theories of Propositional Attitudes

  • M. J. Cresswell
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 36)


It is often thought that there are considerable advantages in analyzing propositional attitudes as relations between people and linguistic entities of some kind.1 Some who favour this approach are interested in ontological economy but even those without this objective are sometimes tempted by what has seemed an attractive way out of the problem of hyperintensional contexts.2


Propositional Calculus Predicate Calculus Formal Semantic Propositional Attitude Impossible World 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    E.g., Carnap, 1937, p. 248, and Quine, 1960, p. 212. Quine of course (op. cit., p. 214) regards the whole notion of meaning as suspect and so no doubt would have little interest in the larger enterprise of which this paper is a part. Vide also Montague, 1974, p. 139.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The name `hyperintensional’ was used in Cresswell, 1975b to refer to contexts in which substitution of even logically equivalent sentences need not preserve truth. Propositional attitudes are the typical, and perhaps the only, examples.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Scheffler, 1964, p. 104, and Quine, 1960, p. 213.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    I take this to be the point behind some of Robin Haack’s remarks on p. 315 of Haack, 1973. In an unpublished paper (Bigelow, 1974) John Bigelow argues that for an utterance to have meaning is just for it to be a conventional device used to give expression to a certain thought.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The Haacks, 1970, p. 56, seem to disagree here, for they consider the sentence “`man is a rational animal’ expresses the proposition that man is a rational animal” to be analytic. It is not clear to me what exactly they mean by `analytic’ here but one thing is clear to me, viz. that `man is a rational animal’ might not have meant that man is a rational animal.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    I would like to think that, for reasons of the kind given in Lewis, 1972, p. 188f, I need not take sides on the linguistic problem of the autonomy of syntax.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cresswell, 1973, p. 84ff. Extensive use of)-categorial languages is made in that work and by myself and others elsewhere in analyses of particular phenomena of natural-language semantics. A more general defence of the use of A-categorial languages is given in Cresswell, 1977. Allied work is found in the tradition of `Montague Grammar’ (vide Montague, 1974 and Partee, 1976 ).Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    A good account of the history of this controversy is given in Burge, 1978 with fairly full bibliographical references.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Partee’s nicest example occurs on p. 326 of her 1973: “She giggled that she would feel just too, too liberated if she drank another of those naughty Martinis.” However examples like her (11) on p. 317 do seem to involve a meaning difference. Bigelow’s, 1978 formalization shows how the quotational element can be incorporated into the semantics of what he calls an “augmented” A-categorial language.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Lewis, 1972, pp. 182–186. Lewis’ suggestion is discussed in Cresswell, 1975b and Bigelow, 1978. It obviously has links with Carnap’s metalinguistic notion of intensional isomorphism (Carnap, 1947, p. 59). It forms the basis of the solution defended in Cresswell, 1982 and 1985a.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Celebrated examples are given in Lakoff, 1971 and McCawley, 1968a. Other detailed work has been done by David Dowty, 1972, 1976 and elsewhere.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Vide, e.g., Haack and Haack, 1970.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    This view goes back at least to the middle ages. Geach, 1957 discusses it on p. 101. A recent extensive defence of this view is presented in Fodor, 1975.Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    The point is made explicitly against Davidson in Lycan, 1972, and against Scheffler in Feldman, 1977.Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    In fact it would become formally analogous to a hyperintensional semantics and would be susceptible to objections of the kind mentioned in the discussion of Thomason’s work in section eight of Chapter 1 and in Cresswell, 1975b, p. 25f, and in Bigelow, 1978, p. 105, regarding the interpretation of words like the truth functors. For, e.g., there seem to be no constraints on how we get from the class of all sayings that the earth moves to the class of all sayings that the earth does not move.Google Scholar
  16. 18.
    This solution has been offered by several authors (e.g., Quine, 1956 and Wallace, 1972b) and there is quite a body of literature on it.Google Scholar
  17. 19.
    Thomason, 1977 adapts the argument in Chapter 10 of Montague, 1974 against syntactical (i.e., quotational) treatments of modality.Google Scholar
  18. 20.
    Thomason, 1980. Propositions were also taken as primitive in Cresswell, 1966.Google Scholar
  19. 21.
    It would be a pity if the hyperintensional notion of proposition diverged too far from the idea of a proposition as a set of worlds. For a sentence like `If the predicate calculus had been decidable logic would be a lot less interesting’ does seem to have a semantics in which, after the fashion of Stalnaker, 1968 and Lewis, 1973, we go to the nearest world in which the predicate calculus is decidable and see what it is like. Unfortunately that solution cannot be applied just like that because it would require ‘impossible worlds’, and the trouble here is that since the concept of possibility is itself analysed in terms of worlds, all that the introduction of these extra worlds does is allow us to introduce a new notion of extra strong impossibility, viz. truth at no worlds at all. If we decide to call this notion logical impossibility then there is no way at all that we can get a logically impossible proposition ever being true (vide Cresswell, 1973, p. 41 ).Google Scholar
  20. 24.
    The last paragraph of the text was true in 1979. In Cresswell, 1985a, I defend a structured meaning approach to the semantics of propositional attitudes.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Cresswell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyVictoria University of WellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations