Twin Pleas: Probing Content and Compositionality
So called dual factor theories are proposed in an attempt to provide an explanation of the meaning of our utterances and the content of our mental states in terms that involve two different theories, each one serving separate concerns. One type of theory deals with the causal explanatory aspect of contentful mental states and/or sentences. The other type deals with those contentful mental states and/or sentences as related to propositions, i.e., as objects that can be assigned referential truth-conditions (Cfr. McGinn, 1982; Block, 1986). I take dual component approaches to meaning to be yet another variety of the Fregean tradition. This may seem odd since Frege -but certainly not two-factor theorists- wants a thoroughly non-psychologized account of meaning. So, an explanation of my statement is needed. Because this story is well known, I will be brief. The sense of a sentence is the thought it expresses, where this thought is understood as something objective and fully independent of our ideas in any psychological sense. Its reference is nothing but a truth-value -true or false- (Cfr. Frege, 1892). The concept of truth that arises out of postulating this kingdom of objective thoughts is, Frege believes, the necessary mediating tool between the symbols and the entities of which the world is made. The very possibility of a proper scientific account of the world can be guaranteed only by appealing to objective scientific laws that, like objective thoughts, are immune to relativistic challenges. But, at the same time, for this objective kingdom of thoughts to play the role of a mediating entity between language and world, it is necessary to introduce an essential, but new idea. The idea is that not only can we grasp those thoughts, but, also in this grasping process, their objective content -their sense- remains the same.