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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology, Information Models and the 'Real World': C

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: KCliffer@xxxxxxx
Date: Mon, 28 May 2007 15:25:18 EDT
Message-id: <cd6.10137b4f.338c869e@xxxxxxx>
Waclaw.Marcin.Kusnierczyk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
KCliffer@xxxxxxx wrote:

> Here, I simply meant that the meaning the proposition had by virtue of
> its actual (erroneous) words was different (varied) from the intended
> meaning it would have had without the error. Variation, as we already
> discussed, can be also due to a difference between the meaning a
> receiver of a proposition "reads" in a proposition" and the meaning the
> proposer intended - the same proposition in words might have different
> meanings for the various players in proposing and receiving it.

Are you not confusing propositions with syntactic statements?
Maybe. If I understand your distinction properly, a proposition is typically (or often) expressed in the form of a syntactic statement. (But there may be implicit or non-verbal elements associated with the intended proposition that aren't fully or adequately expressed in the language of the syntactic statement (previous discussion).) Insofar as the meaning of a proposition can be considered to be represented by the syntactic statement, if that statement contains an error or can be interpreted in different ways by the proposer and various receivers, it's hard to separate the statement in practice from the proposition it's supposed to represent. Therefore, the proposition conveyed may be different from the proposition intended, either due to error, or due to other interpretive factors. In short, the interpreted proposition may vary, given a particular syntactic statement meant to express a given proposition.
(Am I interpreting your terminology correctly? My formal background in philosophy and logic is limited.)
> I agree that the truth or falsity is not its meaning, but is rather a
> degree of correspondence between its meaning and the reality to which
> its meaning refers.

Where there are only two degrees, since we are talking about truth and
This gets into the discussion of degrees of truth and falsity - I happen to think that it is useful to acknowledge degrees other than two - fully true or fully false - for some practical purposes (previous discussions here and see the article on truthlikeness referred to earlier). But I don't think that that distinction is critical to the point here.
> In that sense, its meaning (and also its truth or
> falsity) also would not actually change over time, if one includes a
> temporal referent as part of the (implicit, at least) meaning of the
> proposition - but the meaning interpreted by perceivers over time might
> change as the context of their interpretation changes, just as the
> meaning interpreted by different interpreters (including the proposer)
> might vary at the same time.

> If one allows the actual temporal referent to change with time (e.g. an
> explicit or implicit "now" is always the time at which the proposition
> is interpreted), then the meaning implicitly changes with time, as can
> the truth or falsity.

This encourages me to ask another question:  do propositions involve
indexicals?  (Would there be proposition-indexicals?)  Does the
statement 'he is wise' correspond to a (number of) proposition(s) about
a particular individual at a particular time each, or can it correspond
to a proposition which still does not have the 'he'-part resolved?
Can we talk about the proposition denoted by the 'he is wise' statement
without resolving the indexical first?
I think it's hard to consider any meaning of a proposition like that without considering that it has an intended referent for the indexical - that is, that it refers to a particular individual. I suppose one can consider "open propositions" as having meanings in which some indexical or other is like a variable, to assume its specific meaning when the variable is replaced by a specific value, in this case for "he". In that sense, it's like asking about the proposition "x = 10". One cannot assess the truth of the proposition until one considers what the value of x actually is in a given context. I don't know what the philosophical history is on this type of consideration, but it seems to me that a proposition is not truly a proposition to which one can ascribe a truth value until the context that determines the values of the variables or indexicals is adequately determined to give the proposition a specific meaning.
On the other hand, some propositions can be about relationships between or among variables, and the relationships themselves can have truth values, even if the variables do not have values specified, such as many scientific relationships (e.g. the law of gravity). There are undoubtedly propositions about relationships among "open" indexicals that can be assessed for truth with consideration of a range of values for the indexicals, rather than needing single specific values.
> It's hard for me to imagine a case in which the truth or falsity of a
> proposition that has a clear implicit or explicit time referent in its
> meaning can change without its meaning changing, since its
> correspondence with reality (including a time referent) should not
> change. Reality should not change, except with time, which would be
> covered by the time referent in the meaning of the proposition.

It is not only time that can be referred to by indexicals.  the
statement 'he is wise' may be (correctly interpreted as) true or false
at the same time, depending on whom 'he' refers to.
Agreed, as implied by the considerations above.
Kenneth Cliffer, Ph.D.

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