Force, content and logic

In Gabriele M. Mras, Paul Weingartner & Bernhard Ritter (eds.), Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics: Contributions of the 41st International Wittgenstein Symposium. pp. 221-223 (2019)
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The Frege point to the effect that e.g. the clauses of conditionals are not asserted and therefore cannot be assertions is often taken to establish a dichotomy between the content of a speech act, which is propositional and belongs to logic and semantics, and its force, which belongs to pragmatics. Recently this dichotomy has been questioned by philosophers such as Peter Hanks and Francois Recanati, who propose act-theoretic accounts of propositions, argue that we can’t account for propositional unity independently of the forceful acts of speakers, and respond to the Frege point by appealing to a notion of force cancellation. I argue that the notion of force cancellation is faced with a dilemma and offer an alternative response to the Frege point, which extends the act-theoretic account to logical acts such as conditionalizing or disjoining. Such higher-level acts allow us to present forceful acts while suspending commitment to them. In connecting them, a subject rather commits to an affirmation function of such acts. In contrast, the Frege point confuses a lack of commitment to what is put forward with a lack of commitment or force in what is put forward.

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Michael Schmitz
University of Vienna


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