Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy


Millianism and the Problem of Empty Descriptions

Issue: Issue 2 • Author/s: Frederick Kroon
Topics: Philosophy of language

Empty names present Millianism with a well-known problem: it implies that sentences containing such names fail to express (fully determinate) propositions. The present paper argues that empty descriptions present Millianism with another problem. The paper describes this problem, shows why Millians should be worried, and provides a Millian-friendly solution. The concluding section draws some lessons about how all this affects Millianism and the problem of empty names.

Whose Existence? A Deflationist Compromise to the Fregean/Neo-Meinongian Divide

Issue: Issue 3 • Author/s: Giuliano Bacigalupo
Topics: Philosophical logic, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mathematics

The dispute between the Fregean and the Neo-Meinongian approach to existence has become entrenched: it seems that nothing but intuitions may be relied upon to decide the issue. And since contemporary analytic philosophers clearly are inclined towards the intuitions that support Frege’s approach, it looks as if Fregeanism has won the day. In this paper, however, I try to develop a compromise solution. This compromise consists in abandoning the assumption shared by both Fregeanism and Neo-Meinongianism, namely that the notion of existence adds something to the content of a statement.…

Quine, Naturalised Meaning and Empathy

Issue: Issue 3 • Author/s: Maria Baghramian
Topics: Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

Naturalism is the defining feature of the philosophy of Willard van Orman Quine. But there is little clarity in our understanding of naturalism and the role it plays in Quine’s work. The current paper explores one strand of Quine’s naturalist project, the strand that primarily deals with a naturalised account of language. I examine the role that Quine assigns to empathy as the starting point of the process of learning and translating a language and argue that empathy, when going beyond the automatic form of mirroring, has an irreducible normative…

Relativism, Faultlessness and Parity: Why We Should be Pluralists about Truth’s Normative Function

Issue: Issue 3 • Author/s: Filippo Ferrari
Topics: Philosophy of language, Theoretical philosophy

Some philosophers, like Mark Richard and Paul Boghossian, have argued against relativism that it cannot account for the possibility of faultless disagreement. However, I will contend that the objections they moved against relativism do not target its ability to account for the possibility of faultless disagreement per se. Rather, they should be taken to challenge its capacity to account for another element of our folk conception of disagreement in certain areas of discourse—what Crispin Wright has dubbed parity. What parity demands is to account for the possibility of coherently appreciating,…

Wittgenstein on Truth

Issue: Issue 3 • Author/s: Paul Horwich
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophical logic, Philosophy of language

The topic is Wittgenstein’s eventual abandonment of his Tractatus idea that a sentence is true if and only if it depicts a possible fact that obtains, and his coming (in the Investigations) to replace this with a deflationary view of truth. Three objection to the initial idea that will be discussed here are: (i) that its theory of ‘depiction’ relies on an unexplicated concept of word-object reference; (ii) that its notion of a possible fact obtaining (or existing, or being actual, or agreeing with reality) is also left mysterious; and…

Russellian Diagonal Arguments and Other Logico-Mathematical Tools in Metaphysics

Issue: Issue 3 • Author/s: Laureano Luna
Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy, Metaphysics, Philosophical logic, Philosophy of language

In its most general form, a diagonal argument is an argument intending to show that not all objects of a certain class C are in a certain set S, and does so by constructing a diagonal object, that is to say, an object of the class C so defined as to be other than all the objects in S. We revise three arguments inspired by the Russell paradox (an argument against Computationalism, an argument against Physicalism, and a counterargument to the Platonic One Over Many argument), extract its underlying structure,…

Propositions as Truthmaker Conditions [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 4 • Author/s: Mark Jago
Topics: Epistemology, Philosophical logic, Philosophy of language

Propositions are often aligned with truth-conditions. The view is mistaken, since propositions discriminate where truth conditions do not. Propositions are hyperintensional: they are sensitive to necessarily equivalent differences. I investigate an alternative view on which propositions are truthmaker conditions, understood as sets of possible truthmakers. This requires making metaphysical sense of merely possible states of affairs. The theory that emerges illuminates the semantic phenomena of samesaying, subject matter, and aboutness.

Husserlian Intentionality and Contingent Universals [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 4 • Author/s: Nicola Spinelli
Topics: Epistemology, History of Analytic Philosophy, Philosophy of language

Can one hold both that universals exist in the strongest sense (i.e., neither in language nor in thought, nor in their instances) and that they exist contingently—and still make sense? Edmund Husserl thought so. In this paper I present a version of his view regimented in terms of modal logic cum possible-world semantics. Crucial to the picture is the distinction between two accessibility relations with different structural properties. These relations are cashed out in terms of two Husserlian notions of imagination: world-bound and free. After briefly presenting the Husserlian framework—his…

Undermining Defeat and Propositional Justification [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 2 • Author/s: Giacomo Melis
Topics: Epistemology, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mind

I extend the Higher-Order View of Undermining Defeat (HOVUD) defended in Melis (2014) to account for the defeat of propositional justification. In doing so, I also clarify the important notion of higher-order commitment, and I make some considerations concerning the defeat of externalist epistemic warrants.