Amphithéâtre Maurice Halbwachs, Site Marcelin Berthelot
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A dualism can be characterized as the exaggeration of a distinction, so that it is not intelligible anymore how the opposed entities can function together and play the roles they are naturally thought to have. Recently Peter Hanks and François Recanati have argued that the traditional construal of the force-content distinction makes it unintelligible how propositions can be truth-value bearers: only something that takes a position with regard to how things are and is in that sense forceful can also succeed or fail in representing the world and thus have a truth value. In parallel fashion, we can also say that only something that takes a position regarding what to do can bear a satisfaction value such as being executed.

In my paper I will propose to overcome the force-content dualism by reconceptualizing the distinction. The central claim is that force itself has content, by which I mean that force indicators have representational, or, more precisely, presentational content: they present the subject’s theoretical or practical position vis-à-vis a state of affairs (SOA). A subject may affirm the reality of such a SOA either as a fact from a theoretical, epistemic position in an assertoric act, or as a goal from a practical position in a directive act. It is aware of the position it takes and indicates it in its speech and thought. But this awareness is not introspective. The subject is not directed at its own position as a fact – as from yet another position behind it. It is rather directed at and aware of what is the case, or what to do. But an awareness of its theoretical or practical position is an integral part of such awareness. It is what makes awareness of the relevant SOA awareness of a fact or of a goal. In contrast, a mere representation of a SOA such as “that the door is closed” is not yet, as Wittgenstein put it, “a move in the language game” (PI, §22). “What do you mean?”, we might ask, “are you asserting this or telling me to bring it about?”.

Michael Schmitz

After completing his PhD on the mind-body problem, Michael Schmitz has been a postdoc in Konstanz and an Assistant Professor at the University of Vienna, from which he is about to receive his habilitation. He has also been a visitor at UCL and UC Berkeley and has published several edited volumes and numerous articles in the philosophy of mind, language and society.


Michael Schmitz

Université de Vienne