Consider the sentence “It might be dark outside”. Is this a proposition? What sorts of arguments could you make that this sentence isn”t a proposition?
Is it that it is making — potentially — a claim about the states of affairs of other worlds (as opposed to the actual world) and hence can”t be a claim about the actual world and hence can”t be a proposition? (Genuine question here).
Basically, I”m trying to understand the view which states “not all sentences have propositional semantics; indeed, many of them just express properties of attitudes”.
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asked Oct 9 “14 at 19:09
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A proposition is-equal any message that has a “truth value”. Consider this sentence:
“It might be dark outside”.
Does it have a “truth value”? If yes, then it”s a proposition. If no, then it”s not.
The first step is to identify the meaning of John”s message. It”s important to understand that the exact same words can have different meanings depending on context.
Consider this scenario:
Is it dark outside?
It might be dark outside.
whereby John meant:
It might be dark outside. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn”t. I don”t know.
then John is not making a claim regarding the “darkness of outside”. He is claiming that he has no knowledge of the “darkness of outside”. Since that has a truth value —could either be true xor false—, the message is a proposition; not a proposition regarding the “darkness of outside”, but a proposition regarding John”s (own) knowledge.
However, if John meant:
It might be dark outside. There is a chance that it is dark outside. (There is above zero probability that it is dark outside).
then John”s message is a proposition regarding the “darkness of outside”. It has a “truth value”:
It is true if there is above zero probability that it is dark outside.
It is false if there is exactly zero probability —no chance— that it is dark outside.
It must be either true or false.
If we tweak the scenario and change John”s reply to:
It might be dark outside, but so what?
whereby John meant:
I don”t care if it”s dark outside. Why do I need to care?
then John”s message is not proposition because it is a question and it can neither be true nor false.