Chapter

The Very Possibility of Language (2001)

Nathan Salmon

in Metaphysics, Mathematics, and Meaning

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780199284719
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603235 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199284717.003.0018
 The Very Possibility of Language (2001)

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Many philosophers have argued that a sentence like ‘Chris believes that the Earth is round’ actually mentions particular words rather than any proposition. Alonzo Church demonstrates that this is incorrect by translating both the original sentence and its proposed paraphrase into another language. Doing so illustrates that the original sentence and its proposed paraphrase contain different information. The latter, at most, merely describes what it is that Chris is supposed to believe — specifying it as the content, whatever that may turn out to be, of such-and-such words — whereas the former identifies what Chris is alleged to believe. Michael Dummett’s failure to appreciate this fundamental point leads to a dramatic collapse of his own theory, which has the preposterous consequence that language as we know it is altogether impossible.

Keywords: Church; description; Dummett; identify; proposition; sense; translation

Chapter.  12720 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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