Logic, Epistemology and Metaphysics Seminar

Logic, Epistemology and Metaphysics Seminar
13 February 2018, 5.30pm - 7.30pm
Room 246, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Two Subject Matter Views in Aboutness Theory


Naomi Osorio-Kupferblum (University of Vienna)


Theories of aboutness in Logic & Language explicate what it is for a piece of text to be about a subject matter. In this talk, I will focus on the last element, subject matter. I will distinguish between two groups of accounts, the objective and the propositional accounts of subject matter. Objective accounts treat subject matters as topics. They can be thin objects, not unlike referents, or thick, i.e. comprising every way the object can be, but what is (or can be) said about them is external to all of them. Examples are “climbing” (Ryle 1933), “Maine” (Goodman 1961) or “the 1680s” (Lewis 1988). Propositional accounts, by contrast, regard subject matter as, or akin to, questions. They are highly substantious, thick subject matters, comprising all that can be said about them. Examples are “The world will end in fire or ice”, “The number of stars give or take ten” (Yablo 2014), “Toby is tall and handsome” (Fine, manuscript), “John is an Englishman living in New York” (Berto 2017). While the propositional accounts have some advantageous features, I will argue that they are better put to other uses, and that aboutness theory should stick to objective accounts of subject matter.


Institute of Philsophy
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