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The diagram reveals a basic distinction between event-like and proposition-like
FROM EVENTS TO PROPOSITIONS
entities. But a closer investigation of the spectrum of world immanence reveals a much more complicated typology. At the next level of detail, we may distinguish between events and states under event-like entities--and then further between states, activities, processes, accomplishments, and achievements. Among the propositionlike entities we have distinguished a group of fact-like entities with causal efficacy and a group of pure proposition entities. Both of these groups have further subdivisions. Here is a summary of the characteristics of the major divisions in natural language metaphysics. Eventualities: Spatiotemporal modification (states and events sharply distinguished by a variety of classifications of spatiotemporal modifiers), causal efficacy, no closure under complementation (states support modified complementation, events support relative complementation). Logical behavior: substitutability of coreferential expressions preserving reference to the same event or state. Limited comprehension principles dictate limited mereological summation properties. Simple Propositions: No spatiotemporal modification, no causal efficacy, highly intensional entities (no substitution of logical equivalents or of coreferential terms to preserve denotation to same proposition). Summation dependent on discourse structure. Projective Propositions: No spatiotemporal modification, no causal efficacy, highly intensional entities (no substitution of logical equivalents or of coreferential terms to preserve denotation to same proposition). Complex anaphoric properties occur among different types of projective propositions. Limited comprehension principles dictate limited summation properties. Facts, Possibilities, States of Affairs: No spatiotemporal modification. Probable causal efficacy. Logical behavior: substitutability of coreferential names, definite descriptions may get an opaque reading, questionable substitution of logical equivalents salva veritate, Sentential Comprehension Principle. My examination of abstract entities in natural language metaphysics has revealed a complex typology but also some puzzles. First, there is the problem of the structure of the domains of these abstract objects. The domains of events, propositions, and facts each seem to possess a rich structure with much as yet unsolved, at least as far as their interaction is concerned. That structure appears to bear some relation to the space of such entities created by a text, but much more needs to be said, especially in the case of propositions. Also, many of these domains are fraught with paradox in natural language metaphysics. This poses a traditional problem that natural language metaphysics cannot solve on its 6wn. How can we have a theory of propositions which admits paradoxical propositions? And how do other abstract domains avoid paradox, if they do? A second raft of difficulties concerns the typology itself. The typology of abstract entities is fluid. We have already seen that anaphoric links can exist between contexts that admit incompatible types of abstract objects--e.g. between
objects of NI perception and objects of propositional attitude. The selectional restrictions determined by various contexts do not appear to always apply. Further one can "relabel" as a possibility or a conjecture what someone believes: (95.a) John is certain that the universe was created in a big explosion, but as far as I know that is only a possibility, a conjecture, not proven fact. (95.b) Fred fears the possibility that Mary may leave John. But as far as John is concerned it is already a fact to be lived with. Of course, one can also disagree about the status of ordinary objects, as (96) attests: (96)
John believes he saw a cat run into the sewer, but I swear it was a rat.
There is, however, a different feel to (96) in comparison with (95.a-b). In (96), the nature of the object is in doubt. In (95.a-b), the content and even the structure of the abstract object at hand is completely determined; the characterization of the abstract entity by the that clause is not in doubt. What is being contested is the type. of abstract entity. A more apt comparison is to recast the discussion in (96) as bemg about the question of whether the cat John believes he saw was real or a figmen~ of his imagination. But unlike imagination and reality; identifying the abstract object type is often a matter of fiat or decision. Another consideration related to the fluidity of this typology is that different sorts of abstract entities like facts and propositions may "agglomerate" together to form uniform wholes that may be picked up by anaphoric pronouns. For instance, consider the following example: (97)
The fact that Sam ran off with his secretary surprised no one. Mary's expectation that he would be unfaithful is also a pretty grim commentary on his character. All of it makes plain the typical, sad state of modem marriages.
This, as well as the data in section 2.2.2 suggests that abstract entities like facts and propositions may not be so different that they cannot merge together to form another proposition. . The fluidity of the typology is revealed in the linguistic forms of sententlal nominalization as well. An unusual feature of my classification is that some sentential nominals, viz., that clauses, and to some extent POSS-ing gerunds, have a polymorphic or chameleon-like quality; like the color of chameleon~, their true nature depends on their surroundings. They may serve to charactenze abstract entities of different and even incompatible types. For instance that clauses may denote several different types of abstract entities: facts, propositions, and possibilities. This suggests that that clauses introduce structures that are ~ot themselves of any particular type in the typology of natural language metaphYSICS but which may serve to characterize many different types of abstract entities. '
The typology for abstract entities differs markedly from a typology for concrete entItles. But the fluidity of the abstract object typology makes sense to a conceptualist. For while the realm of concrete entities appears to have fixed and determinate boundaries, there are no such boundaries that need be respected when categorizing the products of thought. For the conceptualist, the distinctions between abstract entities need not answer to fixed and determinate distinctions in nature or external reality. Abstract objects are our own creations and our categorizations of them answer to our own pragmatic needs; as our needs change, so may our categorizations. Furthermore, our needs for categorization may be local, so the typology may not be complete or altogether worked out. Finally, we may suspend our categorization for certain purposes or when giving another perspective on some abstract object. Natural language metaphysics reflects these conceptualist tenets faithfully. The next chapters will tum to a more careful linguistic analysis of these matters. 1Mental states, however, which relate together propositions and agents, may very well have causal efficacy. More on this later. 2Philosophers like Davidson have claimed that events are concrete individuals. According to Davidson (1967), however, events are to be individuated by their causes and effects (so they are not individuals like rocks, trees, animals, or space shuttles, altJiough they may share some properties with ordinary individuals). 3For unsaturated entities too there is a similar distinction between world-immanent and abstract objects. Natural kinds and event types are examples of world-immanent properties; such properties have causal efficacy, and kinds even have a kind of spatiotemporal extensIOn as in: (1) platypi are found in Australia but nowhere else. (2) dinosaurs lived for about 400 million years. Many predicate nominals, on the other hand, denote abstract properties with no causal efficacy or spatiotemporal extension. So it is odd to say something like: (3) Goodness caused the world to be saved. except in a highly metaphorical sense. But I will not examine predicate nominals or natural kinds here. 41 use the term gerund phrase to refer to the complex construction employing a verbal for like loving or having loved or even the form being about to Jove. This seems to oe standard usage in at least some of the syntactic literature, but there are many variations of terminology in this area. I also made up the term of ing gerund to denote those gerunds in which one argument IS or would be expressed with a prepositional phrase beginning with of. 51 use these somewhat barbaric terms, ACC-ing gerunds and POSS-ing gerunds, because they have become standard in the linguistic literature on sentential nominals. ACC-ing and POSS-ing stand for the different cases of the subject of the gerundized verb. 6See "Unfair to Facts" in Austin (1961). 7Temporal adverbial PPs also hold of perfect nominals, as in Fred's kissing of Mary on Monday. 8For a discussion, see Smith (1991). 9This suggestion is picked up by Bennett (1988). 1°1 differ here from Vendler in my judgments about the acceptability of the container true with yerunds and derived nominals. 1Vendler's arguments for distinguishing these types of eventualities rests on an examination of verb classes, although as Verkuyl (1972) pointed out, verb classes themselves do not uniquely determine the type of eventuality that the sentence will eventually introduce. 12For a detailed discussion of these categories and problems involving them see Dowty (1979), Krifka (1987), Smith (1991). 13See Barwise (1981), Barwise and Perry (1983), Asher and Bonevac (1985a-b), Higginbo'~lam p985a). 4Kaiser introduces two other contexts that I will not here. They consist of verbs of hapJJening and duration-- e.g. begin, stop, and last, and emotive and cognitive verbs-- e.g., infuriate, bOther, anticipate and regret. It seems to me that these classes of verbs do not distinguish between other types of abstract entities; the first group of verbs does playa peculiar role in that they take imperfect nominals like POSS-ing gerund constructions and apply temporal properties to them. More on this in chapter 5.
FROM EVENTS TO PROPOSITIONS
15Barwise (1975) and Barwise and Perry (l?78, 1983) argue.persuasively on these grounds that the objects ofN! perception are not sets ofP9ssIble worlds ..TheIr arguments, ~owever, do not distinguish the naive notion of a proposluon from the objects of N1 percepuon. 16 This argument is given in Asher and Bonevac (1985.a). . 170 [!3/a] is the result of uniformly substituting the term !3 for every occurre~ce. of the term am 0: ·18 For a discussion see for example Asher and Bonevac (1985a, 1985b). Higgmbotham (1985a) IS a defense of the view that NI complements denote events. . 19Consider for instance His desperate situation forced him to gamble all he had on a vel)' nsky plan. 20S ee Asher (1987). 21See Asher (1987) again for a discussion. 22See Bonevac (1984). 23 In Asher (1987) I give a relatively detailed account of these categories. 24The semantics of questions that I have in mind is ~e s~mantics of questions using their direct or correct answers. ThIS view is held by a number of lIngUISts and phIlosophers. See Karttunen (1977), and Groenendijk and Stokhof (1982). 25 Again see Asher (1987) for a discussion and bib~ography. . 26S ee also Gupta and Savion (1987) for confirmauon on the faIlure of the property argument form .. .. . for projective propositional contexts. . 27These differences are too simple when we examme contexts m whIch propOSItIOnal and facUve contexts share arguments. There are highly intensional ~ontexts that appear to take ~acts ?S arguments and they would seem to sugzest that facts mIght also have those sorts of Idenuty conditions'that we have suggested are llie mark ofpropositi~ns. C~nsequently, (I) ~annot ~ used to distinguish between facts and propositions. There IS a readmg, for mstance, on whIch (l.a) IS true while (1.b) is false: (1 a) The fact that Superman was vulnerable interested Lex Luthor. (1:b) The fact that Clark Kent was yuhIerab~e interes~d Lex Lutl!or. . This objection however is not conclUSIve. Denved nommal, POSS-mg and of-1f1g gerund phrases, however, also behave non-extensionally in such contexts. The sa'!le contrast as, m (l.a) an.d. (l.b) obtains if we substitute instead of the pair of complt?x NPs, the parrs Superman s vulnerabilItya.nd. Clark Kent's vulnerability. On their own these nommals apJJear to denote ~e same state, b!lt wIthm the context of a verb like interest, these ~ominals aJJl~ar 19 denot~ somethII)g mu.ch '!lore lIke a proposition. Superman's spurning of LOIS and ClaiK Kent s spurmng .of LOI~, ~hICh m normal contexts would denote events also behave as if they denoted projJoSItIons wIthm the con~xts . described in (27). Names of individuals such as Superrp.!Ifl and Clark Kent al~o behave m the subject position of interest as if they were within s~me propOSIuonal ~ontext. Thus, mterest generates a propositional context, and tJierefore, one mIght argue.. always mvolves some appeal to .mental states, propositions or some other intentional object related m some way to the actual deno~u9n 9f the noun phrase or nominal in subject place. Propositional contexts can even be generated WIth mdIcate. Consider the pair: (2.a) This proof indicates to me that xn + yn = zn has n~ solution in the whole numbers. (2.b) This proof indicates to me that Fermat's theo~em IS true. . . It seems as though the frrst of this pair could be true WIthOUt the second bemg true, If I.am not aware of the contents of Fermat's theorem. Attitude contexts m?y ~orce such an ?ccommoda~on as the data concerning the various types of nominals would seem to mdIcate. The unif~rm beh~vI~r of all . nominals m such contexts makes it plausible that the more complex semantIc analYSIS IS .appropnate and so these sorts of observations do not vitiate the distinction oetween facts and propOSItIOns. 28This reconstruction of Moore's argument is .giv~n in Fine (1981). Note that sho~ and il}dic:ate do not require their object arguments to be facts m thIS sense; maps may show somethmg or mdIcate sometJiing but then they may also be wrong. Thus, such contexts seem to take not on1y facts but possible facts or possibilities as arguments. 29Many philosophers who adopt a corres~ndence theory of truth take this argument to support the view that facts ground the truth of propoSItions. For a discussion, see Hochberg (1978). 30This example is due to Peter Lasersohn in conversation. . 31 There is an interesting question as to whether one can use the argumel!t P!ltterns. m (2~) to make distinctions between BP SItuations and facts. It does seem t~at the substItuuon of mtensIOnally equivalent property descriptions wit~in a fact den~ting nqmm?l preserves the reference of that nominal whereas we have seen that It does not WIth BP SItuatIons. 32 The ~cceptability of events as well as NI complements as objects of NI perception verbs would .. explain why the quantificational test fails.. 33The data in (62) is sensitive to the presence dlscours.e partIcles lIke bur or tOf!. ~ese add considerable complexity to the analysis of abstract enuty anaphora. TheIr role IS dIscussed at length in chapter 8. . . 34Contrast (70) however with the perfectly acceptable VP ellipSIS: John asked [whether he could go
CHAPTER ONE CHAPTER TWO
to the park);. He wants to. Of course here there is no clash in types; the anaphoric construction picks up a concept expressed by the VP in the previous clause. I shall analyze such constructions in chapter 5. 35It was given in a talk by Link at a conference on Discourse Representation Theory, Stuttgart, Gennany, 1987. 36Davidson (1967) states that events are subject to mereological principles. 37For instance, when we create a context in which these two events become thematically connected, then the anaphoric link becomes quite good: Fred and Mary drove into town together. Fred went shopping for a new pair of sneakers. Mary went to her office to prepare some reports. It took a long time. 38 Earth and water when mixed together make mud, but what of hydrogen and nitrogen? The mereological principles for mass tenns work only on quantities of a particular kind of stuff. 390f course one might here distinguish between singUlar events, which is what I have been talking about, and plural groups of events. Events can be summed to fonn a plural group along the usual principles of gn;mp fonnation. Such groups would be referred to witli the complex demonstrative these events as m: John hit Mary. Sam got married. These events would prove momentous in the history of Smallsville. 40rhis approach too is due to Davidson (1967). 41Such appeals to common sense knowledge in text understanding have a long history within the AI commumty-- see for instance Schank & Abelson (1977) or in computational lInguistic analysis Dahlgren (1988). ~2I .w.ill al..yays suppos~ that among the groups of individuals are singleton groups for every mdividual m the domam. 43The detenniner all then forces a distributive reading over this conjunction. I'll return to this curious anaphoric phenomenon later. 44A possible worlds theory of propositions identifies propositions with sets of possible worlds. Proponents of such a view are Stalnaker (1976, 1984), Lewis (1970), Montague (1970). A Russellian view of propositions, defended recently by philosophers like Salmon (1986), Soames (1987) and Barwise ana Perry (1983), claim that propositions are structured com,l'lexes that include individuals, relations that have those individuals as arguments and some sort of' polarity" indicating whether the relation holds or does not hold of the individuals. 45The view that prop()sitions are sets of possible worlds completely describes the al~ebra and gives it a Boolean structure. It also verifies all the Boolean identities. I here do not include Stalnaker's (1976, 1984) suggestions for a semantics in which linguistic facts about what word referred to what object as well as non-linguistic situations would be encoded into the possible worlds structure. For a discussion see Stalnaker (1984). 46See R. van Sandt (forthcoming) for a discussion of this issue. 47With sentential quantifiers, propositional comprehension, which could be written as 3p p =