On the Very Idea of a Minimal Proposition

NTU Philosophical Review 53:35-74 (2017)
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Can the idea of a minimal proposition be successfully held? I will first formulate what the minimal proposition is in the minimalist’s mind, taking Emma Borg as the representative. What a minimalist seeks for a minimal proposition is the abstract and skeletal core meaning of a sentence, and this faith is founded on the notion of minimal word meaning—an atomic, code-like, conceptual thing. I show that the problem of this notion of minimal proposition lies in the three features, intuitive read-off, invariantness, and truth-evaluability, that Borg ascribes to it. I shall argue, first, that positing a conceptual-like thing as the invariant minimal content of word cannot support the invariantness of the minimal proposition of a sentence, and second, that the skeletal content, as the minimal proposition of a sentence, is a grammatically analyzed product and thus is hardly truth evaluable. According to the analyses, the idea of a minimal proposition with these three features identified by minimalists cannot be maintained.

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Hsiu-lin Ku
Chinese Culture University


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