Topic: HUMAN SEMANTICS
Sententialism and Berkeley's Master Argument
By Zolt?n Gendler Szab?
Sententialism is the view that intensional positions in natural languages occur within clausal complements only. According to proponents of this view, intensional transitive verbs - such as `want', `seek', or `resemble' - are actually propositional attitude verbs in disguise. I argue that `conceive' (and a few other verbs) cannot fit this mold - conceiving-of is not reducible to conceiving-that. The path of the argument is somewhat unusual. I offer a new analysis of where Berkeley's Master Argument goes astray, analyzing what exactly is odd about saying that Hylas conceives a tree which in not conceived. It turns out that a sententialist semantics cannot adequately account for the source of absurdity in attitude ascriptions of this type; to do that, we need to acknowledge irreducibly non-propositional (but nonetheless de dicto) conceiving.
This paper is forthcoming in Philosophical Quarterly.
Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 16 December 2004 03:57 GMT