Recent work in the philosophy of language attempts to elucidate the elusive notion of aboutness (Berto 2018; Lewis 1988; Fine 2017a, b; Hawke 2017; Moltmann 2018; Yablo 2014). A natural question concerning such a project has to do with its motivation: why is the notion of aboutness important? Stephen Yablo (2014) offers an interesting answer: taking into consideration not only the conditions under which a sentence is true, but also what a sentence is about opens the door to a new style of criticism of certain philosophical analyses. We might criticize the analysis of a given notion not because it fails to assign the right truth conditions to a class of sentences, but because it characterizes those sentences as being about something they are not about. In this paper, I apply Yablo’s suggestion to a case study. I consider meta-fictionalism, the view that the content of a mathematical claim S is ‘according to standard mathematics, S’. I argue, following Woodward (2013), that, on certain assumptions, meta-fictionalism assigns the right truth-conditions to typical assertoric utterances of mathematical statements. However, I also argue that meta-fictionalism assigns the wrong aboutness conditions to typical assertoric utterances of mathematical statements.

Why Aboutness Matters: Meta-Fictionalism as a Case Study

Plebani M.
2021

Abstract

Recent work in the philosophy of language attempts to elucidate the elusive notion of aboutness (Berto 2018; Lewis 1988; Fine 2017a, b; Hawke 2017; Moltmann 2018; Yablo 2014). A natural question concerning such a project has to do with its motivation: why is the notion of aboutness important? Stephen Yablo (2014) offers an interesting answer: taking into consideration not only the conditions under which a sentence is true, but also what a sentence is about opens the door to a new style of criticism of certain philosophical analyses. We might criticize the analysis of a given notion not because it fails to assign the right truth conditions to a class of sentences, but because it characterizes those sentences as being about something they are not about. In this paper, I apply Yablo’s suggestion to a case study. I consider meta-fictionalism, the view that the content of a mathematical claim S is ‘according to standard mathematics, S’. I argue, following Woodward (2013), that, on certain assumptions, meta-fictionalism assigns the right truth-conditions to typical assertoric utterances of mathematical statements. However, I also argue that meta-fictionalism assigns the wrong aboutness conditions to typical assertoric utterances of mathematical statements.
49
1177
1186
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-020-00272-9
Aboutness; Fictionalism; Stephen Yablo
Plebani M.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1762269
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