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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 86, Issue 3, Summer 2012

William of Ockham

Catarina Dutilh Novaes
Pages 415-434
DOI: 10.5840/acpq201286338

Ockham on Supposition Theory, Mental Language, and Angelic Communication

In my previous work on Ockham’s theory of supposition, I have argued that it is best understood as a theory of sentential meaning, i.e., as an apparatus for the interpretation of sentences. In this paper, I address the challenge posed to this interpretation of Ockham’s theory by the (presumed) existence of different kinds of supposition in mental language through the lenses of Ockham’s theory of angelic communication. I identify two potentially problematic implications of Ockham’s account of mental language as allowing for different kinds of supposition: the existence of non-significative supposition in mental language; and the possibility of ambiguous mental sentences. I then turn to angelic communication and examine these two issues from that point of view, concluding that there cannot be non-significative supposition in mental language, but also that there may still be room for sentential ambiguity in mental language.

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