Proposition query

Alon Lischinsky alischinsky at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 26 11:39:54 UTC 2009

Hi, Ron.

>> I don't think everyday language has any definite notion of what a
>> proposition is. The concept is hard enough to pin down within the
>> clear limits of a philosophical or linguistic theory.
> You misunderstood me on this. The word proposition is a regular word in English.

There is no doubt that "proposition" is used in non-technical
contexts, although infrequently.

This does not entail, in my book, that people have a precisely
definable, universally shared set of features attached to this
lexeme-- which is what would be required for the kind of clarification
Tahir seeks. It's one thing to use naturally occurring linguistic data
as _evidence_ that this or that process takes place, and an entirely
different one to assume that everyday language is a useful basis for
arriving at theoretical definitions. If we had to be faithful to
everyday language notions of  what a word, a sentence, a text or a
language are, we wouldn't get very far.

But this is an entirely different kettle of fish from what we were
originally discussing. When The Guardian writes today "Sky refuses to
air Gaza aid appeal", there is little doubt that they are asserting
something about Sky (and the content of this assertion would be the
global proposition, in the usual terms), but there is more to the
utterance than that. Unless one accepts the proposition that "Gaza has
appealed for aid" as part of the content as well, there is no way to
make sense (or use) of the statement. More to the point, I think that
grammatical form and propositional status are often, but not
invariably, correlated. But I have nothing resembling a robust theory
of propositions to back this up theoretically.



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