Volume 17, 2002
Semantic Theory and Reported Speech
On Representing Content
I consider whether the content of a speech act is best represented by a set of possible worlds or by an ordered set containing the individual and properties the speech act is about. I argue that there is nothing in such contents that an ordered set can represent that a set of worlds cannot. In particular, both can be used to capture what is distinctive about singular propositions. But a set of worlds better represents content in cases where the content concerns individuals that no longer exist. It is also better at representing how content can be expressed in different ways, and how assertion relates to the pursuit of truth. Finally, representing content by a set of worlds allows for a clearer view of the puzzle about logical omniscience, even though it is often taken to founder on that puzzle.