Objects of Thought

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Colleges, School and Institutes


In his book *The Things We Mean*, Stephen Schiffer advances a subtle defence of what he calls the ‘face-value’ analysis of attributions of belief and reports of speech. Under this analysis, ‘Harold believes that there is life on Venus’ expresses a relation between Harold and a certain abstract object, the proposition that there is life on Venus. The present essay first proposes an improvement to Schiffer’s ‘pleonastic’ theory of propositions. It then challenges the face-value analysis. There will be such things as propositions only if they possess conditions of identity and distinctness. By analyzing Frege’s theory of propositions (Gedanken), I argue that such conditions may be found for the special case of beliefs and sayings advanced as premises and conclusions of deductive arguments. These conditions, however, are not applicable to most ordinary beliefs and sayings. Ordinary attributions and reports, then, do not place thinkers and speakers in relations to propositions. A bonus is exposure of the fallacy in the Putnam-Taschek objection to Frege’s theory of sense and reference.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMeaning and Other Things
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on the Philosophy of Stephen Schiffer
EditorsGary Ostertag
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Stephen Schiffer, pleonastic entities, sense and reference, Fregean thoughts, propositions, Gottlob Frege