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Robbie Williams

Hmmm... I can't quite recall King's discussion, but do you think he needs to think that protopropositions are structured? E.g. Lewis and Stalnaker's stuff on how beliefs and intentions come into play in fixing what language we're using (otherwise very different from each other) both explicitly appeal to unstructured contents. It's not obvious to me what's wrong with positing such coarse-grained proto-attitudes---and if they can do the work, you've got a non-circular route in.

marc moffett

Hi Robbie. Good point! I hadn't really thought this part through completely.

First, a quick point about the Lewis/Stalnaker view. I take it that they allude to propositions and propositional attitudes in their articulation of theory. It is a further and independent question whether or not propositions are as they say they are. Given that I am deeply skeptical of their view of propositions (as, obviously, is Jeff), it is not uncontroversial that they can do what they want to do w/unstructured entities.

Now one of the reasons Jeff gives us for adopting his view of structured propositions is that it makes transparent why propositions are truth-evaluable. So at the very least, it would be a bit perplexing for Jeff to claim that it is nevertheless possible to transparently explain the truth-evaluability of protopropositions if they are unstructured. Second, Jeff claims in the first chapter of the book that the demand that propositions need to be recursively specifiable also gives us a major reason for adopting structured propositions. But I think that protopropositions will also need to be recursively specifiable in more or less the same way. And so, one would think that his prior reasoning would apply to protopropositions as well.

So, in effect, if we spot Jeff his reasons for thinking that propositions are structured, those same considerations will apply mutatis mutandis to protopropositions. Conversely, it is hard to see why any plausible view of unstructured, truth-evaluable protopropositions could not be applied to propositions proper. So I guess I am suggesting a kind of dilemma for Jeff: either he can give a theory of unstructured protopropositions or he can't. If he can, then arguably he can give a theory of unstructured propositions; if he can't then (LOT to one side) he is going to have to give an independent theory of protopropositions which arguably can be applied to propositions. Either way, his own "linguisticky" theory of propositions becomes superfluous.

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