SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Is there Expressive Denegation?
(Philosophy of Language, English)

According to psychological expressivism (Freitag 2018), avowals -- first-person present tense self-ascriptions of mental states (e.g. 'I hope that it is raining') -- are typically explicit expressive acts. In uttering an avowal of the form 'I ψ that p/o', the speaker expresses the mental state ψ that p/o (see also Wittgenstein 1953; Finkelstein 2003; Bar-On 2004, 2015; Brandl 2018) instead of reporting on her mental state (descriptivism), thereby expressing the belief that she ψs that p/o.

Self-ascriptions of mental states can be negated. Disavowals, such as 'I don't believe that it is raining' and 'I don't love you', are often used in combination with avowals as in 'I don't want to be anybody's prisoner. I want to be a Queen' (Alice, in L. Carroll's Through the Looking Glass). Nevertheless, disavowals are rarely discussed. Here, I will make the case for what I call expressive denegation: I claim that if psychological expressivism gives a correct analysis of avowals, then in uttering a disavowal, a speaker typically expresses, in some sense, the absence of the mental state named. I will also consider the main objection to expressive denegation: While it seems easy to make sense of expressing a mental state, it is difficult to make sense of expressing the absence of a mental state. In response to this problem, I propose that in uttering a disavowal of the form 'I don't ψ that p/o' a speaker expresses the proposition that she does not ψ _that p/o_.


Chair: Aglaia Anna Marlene von Götz
Time: 14:40-15:10, 20 September 2019 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.006

Nadja-Mira Yolcu 
(University of Mannheim, Germany)

Nadja-Mira Yolcu is a research assistant and PhD student at the Chair of Theoretical Philosophy/Philosophy of Language at the University of Mannheim. In 2015 she received a Bachelor's degree in philosophy (minor: psychology) from the University of Heidelberg and in 2017 a BPhil in Philosophy from the University of Oxford. In her dissertation she investigates an expressivist analysis of disavowals.

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