Force, content and the varieties of unity

In Gabriele Mras & Michael Schmitz (eds.), Force, content and the unity of the proposition. Routledge (forthcoming)
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Abstract
In this paper I propose three steps to overcome the force-content dichotomy and dispel the Frege point. First, we should ascribe content to force indicators. Through basic assertoric and directive force indicators such as intonation, word order and mood, a subject presents its position of theoretical or practical knowledge of a state of affairs as a fact, as something that is the case, or as a goal, as something to do. Force indicators do not operate on truth- or satisfaction evaluable entities as on the traditional view, but complete and unify them. Second, higher-level acts such as interrogative, logical and fictional acts create higher-level unities that may suspend commitment to the assertions and directions they operate on. But they do not cancel their force, but transfer the meaning of force indicators into the new unities they create. For example, in the context of asking a theoretical or practical question, the assertoric or directive force indicator now presents the kind of knowledge the subject is seeking. Third, the Frege point conflates different varieties of force. We neither need Frege’s assertion sign, nor Hare’s neustic, nor Hanks’s cancellation sign, but only ordinary force indicators and interrogative, logical and fictional markers. Propositions are not forceless contents to which a subject commits by forceful acts, but forceful acts put forward by higher-level acts which may suspend commitment to them.
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Archival date: 2021-07-06
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