Propositions on the cheap

Philosophical Studies 176 (12):3159-3178 (2019)
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According to the classical account, propositions are sui generis, abstract, intrinsically-representational entities and our cognitive attitudes, and the token states within us that realize those attitudes, represent as they do in virtue of their propositional objects. In light of a desire to explain how it could be that propositions represent, much of the recent literature on propositions has pressured various aspects of this account. In place of the classical account, revisionists have aimed to understand propositions in terms of more familiar entities such as facts, types of mental or linguistic acts, and even properties. But we think that the metaphysical story about propositions is much simpler than either the classical theorist or the revisionist would have you believe. In what follows, we argue that a proper understanding of the nature of our cognitive relations to propositions shows that the question of whether propositions themselves represent is, at best, a distraction. We will argue that once this distraction is removed, the possibility of a very pleasing, minimalist story of propositions emerges; a story that appeals only to assumptions that are shared by all theorists in the relevant debate.
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