in The Freedom of the Will

Published in print September 1970 | ISBN: 9780198243434
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680687 | DOI:

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Quotation in full is not the only way of explaining the reference of the phrase ‘this statement’. All we need, for the use of the word ‘this’ not to be meaningless, is that there should be some way whereby we can, if asked, explain what exactly we are referring to. It need not be by quotation in full. Indeed, except for when we are using ‘this’ to refer to statements or tunes, it never could. Ryle's objection is not water-tight because there are three ways, not one, in which we can refer to a statement. These ways are: (i) by describing the statement; (ii) by giving the name of the statement, e.g. Pythagoras' Theorem; and (iii) by quoting it. Of these three ways, the last can be used only for statements tunes etc., and so is peculiar to them. Ryle quite rightly notes that with self-referential statements this way is not open. But he concludes from this, wrongly, that since the referring expressions in self-referential statements cannot refer to their statements by the method which is peculiar to statements and tunes, therefore they cannot refer to them at all. This does not follow. In fact, the statement ‘This statement is false’ can be referred to in a variety of ways.

Keywords: Ryle; statements; reference

Chapter.  1310 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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