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Re: [ontolog-forum] what is a proposition?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ingvar Johansson <ingvar.johansson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 25 May 2007 09:14:48 +0200
Message-id: <46568CE8.8090205@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
KCliffer@xxxxxxx schrieb:
> Kathy,
> Yes, that is essentially the core of the main proposition I was trying 
> to assert in my much more long-winded (many-byted?) fashion - so much 
> so that you might have had trouble ascertaining what it was. Your 
> version is well stated.
> Ken
> (Given that you're at GMU, I'm nearby, also in Fairfax.)
> In a message dated 5/24/2007 10:26:12 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, 
> klaskey@xxxxxxx writes:
>>     ... determining the truth of propositions - that is, they have
>>     truth values, but we may have a hard time ascertaining the truth
>>     value of any given proposition.
>     And we may have trouble ascertaining exactly which proposition is
>     being asserted, as any lawyer or diplomat will appreciate.  Or
>     scientist, for that matter.  For example, it is a true art form to
>     insult a person with carefully chosen language that, taken
>     literally, asserts a highly complimentary proposition.
>     Kathy
> Kenneth Cliffer, Ph.D.    (01)

Often, ontological, epistemological, and semantic problems overlap, but 
now and then they can be kept distinct. In my mails I have only tried to 
defend the *philosophical-ontological view* that natural languages 
contain propositions, and that propositions are the primary truth-value 
bearers. This is quite consistent with both your *epistemological view* 
that in empirical matters one can never know with "absolute" certainty 
that a specific proposition is true, and your *semantic view* that in 
actual communication one can never be sure that speaker and hearer have 
apprehended "exactly" the same proposition. Furthermore, I share these 
views with you. But in practice we seem nonetheless to able to improve 
on knowledge and communicate quite a bit. The only reason I can find why 
you bring in epistemology, is that you think that philosophical ontology 
is necessarily tied to a belief in infallible knowledge (as it was among 
the rationalists and the idealists of earlier centuries), but this is 
wrong. Philosophical ontology is quite compatible with fallibillism in 
epistemology. One can give up "the quest for certainty" but nonetheless 
do philosophical ontology.    (02)

My thesis about propositions implies that there are "abstract objects" 
in speech acts and reading acts in natural languages. My view is in 
conflict with Quine's philosophical ontology, according to which there 
is one and only one kind of abstract objects: sets.    (03)

best communicative wishes,
Ingvar    (04)

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