University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

Richard Anderson PhD Dissertation Defense

Monday, July 29, 2019
3:00pm – 5:00pm

Storrs Campus
Man 227

Richard Anderson will be defending his PhD dissertation in the Philosophy Department.


The Frege–Geach Problem for Normative Propositions


The aim of this dissertation is to argue for the following claim: if Hanks' theory of propositions as act-types is correct, then there exists a plausible extension of this theory that solves the Frege–Geach problem for normative propositions—and, as a consequence, that solves the Frege–Geach problem for semantic expressivism more generally. In the dissertation I assume that Hanks' theory is correct, and in this framework develop an account of semantic expressivism that addresses three versions of the Frege–Geach problem: the embedding, inference and negation problems.

First, I examine in detail one extant attempt to support the claim, due to Hom and Schwartz. I argue that their extension is not plausible for two reasons: it does not satisfy a key expressivist constraint, and it encounters a problem with interrogatives. Then I argue that even if their extension were plausible, it would not solve the embedding problem for conditionals, for two reasons: it does not place suitable constraints on applications of force-indicators, and it encounters a problem with mixed descriptive–normative conditionals.

Second, I investigate the negation problem and use my results to argue in defense of a new extension of Hanks' theory that interprets normative predicates as having the dual semantic function of expressing both a set of admissible force-indicators and a deontic property. I argue that this extension is plausible, and then I further extend it by defining force-indicators that are generalizations of assertion and of normative endorsement (and of denial and anti-endorsement) and by defining logical connectives that apply uniformly to assertive and normative propositions. Finally, I argue that this extension provides a neutral semantic and logical framework that respects the semantic boundary between atomic descriptive and normative sentences, but that still addresses the Frege–Geach problem for normative propositions.


Marcus Rossberg,

Philosophy Department (primary), UConn Logic Group Colloquium, UConn Master Calendar

Control Panel