The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 120, Issue 9, September 2023

Bjørn JespersenOrcid-ID
Pages 484-510

Is Act Theory a Propositional Logic without Logic?

This is a critique of Hanks’s theory of propositions, which identifies propositions with predicative act types imbued with assertoric force. This identification turns propositions into assertoric contexts. Disjunctive propositions obey a fine-grained logic: b asserting A does not entail b asserting the disjunction A or B. Conjunctive propositions obey a coarser-grained logic: b asserting the conjunction A and B entails b asserting A and b asserting B. Distribution of assertion over conjunction inverts the scope distribution of the force operator and the logical operator, whereby the former can also take narrow scope with respect to the latter. Non-conjunctive molecular propositions, however, need to suspend the force of their constituent propositions, but then why identify propositions with assertoric contexts? I show that Hanks’s theory both fails to formally validate distribution over conjunction and to accommodate the divergent behavior of its disjunctive and conjunctive propositions. Also, I argue that distribution is philosophically a bad idea, anyway.