ABSTRACT. David Chalmers’s version of two-dimensional semantics is an attempt at setting up a unified semantic framework that would vindicate both the Fregean and the Kripkean semantic intuitions. I claim that there are three acceptable ways of carrying out such a project, and that Chalmers’s theory does not coherently fit any of the three patterns. I suggest that the theory may be seen as pointing to the possibility of a double reading for many linguistic expressions (a double reading which, however, is not easily identified with straightforward semantic ambiguity).


In spite of the Kripkean paradigm’s1 remarkable success, the Fregean intuitions will not go away. By ‘Fregean intuitions’ I mean the feeling that certain linguistic phenomena require the kind of semantic treatment that a theory of meaning in the Fregean tradition would provide. Such phenomena, on the other hand, are not easily accommodated within a Kripkean framework. Let me briefly recall some of the phenomena in question: • ‘Hesperus is Hesperus’ and ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’ differ in cognitive value; a theory of meaning should account for the difference. • ‘Lois believes that Superman can fly’ and ‘Lois believes that Clark Kent can fly’ differ in truth value; a theory of meaning should account for the difference (such an account is hard to provide if ‘Superman’ and ‘Clark Kent’ are assigned the same semantic value). • It is not plausible that the word ‘Pegasus’ plays no role in our inquiry aiming at establishing that Pegasus does not exist (Quine 1952); a theory of meaning should account for that (if a name’s only semantic value is its reference, this is hard). • Oscar believes that the English sentence ‘Water is drinkable’ is true; Twin Oscar believes that the Twin-English sentence ‘Water is drinkable’ is true. Such beliefs underlie patterns of behaviour that are in systematic correspondence with each other. A theory of meaning should account for the similarity (such an account is not easily
Synthese (2005) 143: 321–349 © Springer 2005



provided if ‘water’ in English and ‘water’ in Twin-English have radically different semantic values). So, in David Chalmers’s words, “There remains an intuition that ‘Hesperus’ and ‘Phosphorus’ (or ‘water’ and ‘H2 O’[. . . ]) differ in at least some dimension of their meaning, corresponding to the difference in their cognitive and rational roles” (2002c, 8; cf. 2002a, 3). There is an aspect of content (or of meaning) that is not captured by the notion of reference. Of course, the Kripkean (or ‘Millian’) intuitions are also here to stay: among others, the intuition that the truth value of ‘Napoleon married Marie-Louise’ does not depend on any non-trivial property of Napoleon, except his having married Marie-Louise; the intuition that the truth conditions of ‘Napoleon was P’ are not identical with the truth conditions of ‘The so-and-so was P’, were ‘the so-and-so’ is any descriptive expression; and the intuition that in the sentence “If Napoleon had been British he wouldn’t have become Emperor of the French” the name ‘Napoleon’ refers to Napoleon, not to some individual more or less closely resembling Napoleon but not identical with him. Thus we have two sets of intuitions, pointing to different semantic theories (or families of theories): the Fregean family and the Kripkean family. Theories in the Fregean family identify an expression’s semantic value with a property (usually called ‘sense’) that is strictly related with the expression’s cognitive content while being distinct from its reference. They account for a number of intuitions, e.g., for the difference in cognitive value between ‘Hesperus is Hesperus’ and ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’, but they run into trouble with several others, such as semantic evaluation in counterfactual circumstances. Kripkean theories, on the other hand, identify semantic value with reference; they are unsatisfactory as accounts of belief ascriptions, differences in cognitive value, empty names, and the explanation of behaviour, though they can successfully deal with counterfactual evaluation, indexicals, and more. In the face of such circumstances, three different attitudes are possible in principle. We can insist that one and only one family of theories is on the right track, and try to accommodate the recalcitrant intuitions: Salmon (1986) was an attempt in this direction from the Kripkean standpoint, while Evans (1982) was in some respects its Fregean analogue. Or, we may search for a radically new theory, that would be free from the limitations of both (in recent years, few have made this attempt, as far as I know). A third option consists in trying to have the best of both worlds, i.e., to preserve the strengths of both approaches by combining them into a unified theory, that would analyse each kind of phenomena pretty much along the lines of the approach that is more successful in dealing with them.



In the late Seventies and early Eighties, many people came out in favour of the third option: they were the proponents of so-called ‘two factor’ or ’dual aspect’ semantic theories (Field 1977; Loar 1981; McGinn 1982; Block 1986; et al.). All such theories suggested that a linguistic expression’s semantic value was twofold: one component was intended to take care of differences of cognitive value and therefore of the connection between content and behaviour, thus playing the role of Fregean sense; the other component was meant to be identical with an expression’s objective, externally individuated content. The first component or factor was characterized as ‘narrow meaning’, narrow content’, ‘inferential role’, ‘functional role’, the second was called ‘wide meaning’ or ‘wide content’. The first component was entirely ‘in the head’, the second was not. The first component of the meaning of ‘water’ ignored the difference between H2 O and XYZ, the second was essentially about the difference. One crucial point of two-factor theories was that neither semantic factor suffices to determine the other (McGinn 1982, 211; Block 1986, 638– 639, 643–644). Hadn’t both factors been fully independent of each other, the theory would have been only superficially a two-factor theory. For example, Frege’s theory of (1892) is not to be regarded as a two-factor semantic theory, as sense is supposed to determine denotation. The independence of both factors from each other was essential to the enterprise of two factor semantics, for its main motivation was exactly that no singlefactor theory could account for all the relevant phenomena, directly or indirectly. There was, however, the risk that such independence, though declared, was not really borne out by the theory. Perhaps the two factors had been so designed that one factor could indirectly determine a value for the other factor; a value that might be incompatible with what had been independently assigned to the other factor by the theory. Thus, against (some versions of) two-factor semantics, Jerry Fodor pointed out that a thought’s functional role did determine a propositional content which was bound to have a truth condition; at the same time, another truth condition was determined by that same thought’s causal connections with the world, and ‘the theory ha[d] no mechanism at all for keeping these two assignments consistent’ (Fodor, 1987, 82; Fodor’s italics). Indeed, for some thoughts they were bound to be inconsistent. Take my thought that water is wet. which supposedly has the same functional role as my Twin-Earthian twin’s thought that water is wet. At the same time, my twin’s thought, being causally connected with XYZ, is determined as being true if and only if XYZ is wet, whereas my own thought is similarly determined as being true iff H2 O is wet (this is the second factor). Now, what about the proposition

unless it is.. we want to distinguish three things: (a) the fact that values of a certain kind are assigned.e. at the same time. for it is by assigning semantic values in a certain way that a theory has explanatory efficacy..2 Suppose that expressions of a given syntactic category are assigned by a certain semantic theory only values of a certain kind or type:3 for example. Then we shall say that the theory acknowledges only one semantic dimension or semantic property (for expressions of that category). the form F of the functions that implement the assignment: for example. showed that the versions of two-factor semantics he examined did not offer a viable solution to the articulation problem: they assigned incompatible values to entities that could not be considered ambiguous (more on this in a while). i.324 DIEGO MARCONI determined by the (common) functional role of our respective thoughts that water is wet? What are its satisfaction conditions? Clearly.e. each expression must be evaluated in conformity with both theories. both the classical and the intuitionistic semantics for the language of propositional logic assign truth values and only truth values to sentences. For example. Let us see how one could think of dealing with the articulation problem in abstracto. suppose that sentences are assigned truth values (and only truth values). values must be assigned so that each theory can display its full explanatory power. Let us call this ‘the Articulation Problem’. (c) the assignments themselves. We shall think of different semantic theories as different ways of assigning semantic values to expressions of a language..g. intuitively.e. but they do it differently (based on different interpretations of the sentential connectives).e. e. a theory that only assigns truth values to sentences acknowledges only one semantic property P of sentences. unless the expression is to be regarded as ambiguous (i. if both factors are not really independent of each other (as Fodor claimed). truth values rather than Fregean senses or Montagovian intensions.. ambiguous).g. the functions fi (all of which share form F ) that assign the appropriate values to expressions e belonging to . two-factor semantics may issue in inconsistent assignments. THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM For people who want to combine two (or more) semantic theories into one. Or a theory may acknowledge more than one property. Fodor’s objection. say. truth value.. In principle. two: intension and extension.. namely. life is not easy. i. e. 2. Semantic values must be assigned in such a way that no expression gets more than one value of the same type. (b) how they are assigned. Thus. they are bound to be inconsistent with either my twin’s or my own thought’s truth condition as determined by the respective causal connections. if sound. i.

whereas indirect reference assigns indirect denotations (i. this is the solution that Frege adopted to account for reference in indirect contexts. i.e. think of the theory of light: there.. each of our two putative theories is the theory of one of the two properties. P1 and P2 (for expressions of the same category). fj 2 . In compositional semantic theories. and suppose we want to combine them into one synthetic theory. however.. of dealing with the Articulation Problem).e. that the two theories do not really account for the same phenomena in different ways: rather. both P and F . In principle. we shall not need to consider individual fi ’s or to distinguish between a semantic property P and the particular way that property is assigned by a particular theory. so there is P2 P1 . the electromagnetic theory and the particle theory: each theory concerns a different property (electromagnetic radiation vs. ordinary reference and indirect reference. Fj = {fj 1 . they account for two disjoint sets of phenomena. a value that could be assigned by the other property (for example. stream of photons) and each property is involved in a distinct set of phenomena. for each e. people sometimes say that we have two theories. In practice. .TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 325 some syntactic category. this is entirely acceptable: every expression is assigned two semantic values. senses) to expressions in indirect contexts. For an analogy from an entirely different field. for the assignment of a sense determines the assignment of a denotation). In semantics. two properties are independent if neither property assigns. There are two properties. in Fregean semantics sense and reference are different. two different families of functions are involved. . the latter may be identified with a family of fI ’s. Correspondingly. . with disjoint domains and disjoint ranges: expression in direct context −→ ordinary denotation expression in indirect context −→ indirect denotation Considered as a solution to the Articulation Problem. Now suppose we have two theories that are different in that they acknowledge different semantic properties. there are three possible ways of doing this (i.. but not independent semantic properties.}. We can say. the fi ’s are partly determined by the syntactic form of e. one (and only one) semantic property is involved. first. even indirectly. A semantic theory specifies both the kind of semantic values that are assigned and how they are assigned. no expression is assigned more than one value in the same context. Ordinary reference assigns ordinary denotations to expressions in ordinary contexts. In each set. Two semantic properties are different if they assign semantic values of different kinds to expressions of the same syntactic category.e.

4 Then. it is crucial that P1 and P2 are independent properties (not just different): i. for it could not deal with some phenomena that were. in a sense. that P1 determines the assignment to e of a value V that is in the range of P2 . either V = P2 (e) or V = P2 (e). expression (in every context) −→ conceptual role −→ truth conditions P2 P1 In this solution. nor do they determine truth conditions. we can say that we are dealing with a single set of phenomena and a single property. one aspect of which has to do with finance while the other is connected with rivers. This may or may not be acceptable in itself (perhaps e is ambiguous).g. In such an account. In the first case.e. it is a function that assigns pairs of values (of the same kind) to the same entity). Context may be said to play a disambiguating role. P2 }. the idea was that the first theory did not suffice. wide meaning. then e is being regarded as ambiguous: it is assigned two distinct sets of entities of the same kind at the same time (for example. or components. This is the solution that was adopted by many proponents of two-factor semantics: every linguistic expression in every context has both a conceptual role (inferential role.) and a referential role (truth conditions. conceptual roles are not truth conditions. etc. Secondly. but anyway corresponds to a different solution to the Articulation Problem. V = P2 (e). However.) P1 assign an entity that determines another entity belonging to the range of P2 . P1 and P2 never assign entities of the same kind to an expression.326 DIEGO MARCONI no risk that unwanted ambiguities may ensue. nor that ‘bank’ has a complex meaning. The property in question is really a pair of properties. each relevant to some of its contexts of occurrence and not to the others. for example. we are saying that the word. P2 is. nor does (e. only one property P is involved. For example. as a lexical item considered in isolation. except that it is a complex property: it has two aspects. For example. Suppose the independence condition is not met: suppose. accounted for by the second theory. or factors. redundant: P1 suffices to assign both semantic values to e. narrow meaning. etc. for it is rather a reduction of the second theory to the first.). two (sets of) truth conditions). The third solution simply consists in treating the phenomena as ambiguous. when we say that the word ‘bank’ is ambiguous – for it means both ‘financial institution’ and ‘bordering elevation’ – we are neither saying that there are two semantic properties of ‘bank’. If on the other hand we are in the second case. except that P is not a function (equivalently.. i. So this is not really a solution to the Articulation Problem. in turn. has .. each of P1 and P2 maps entities in a single domain to distinct ranges.e. P = {P1 .

see Chalmers. but the sentence in itself has both. CHALMERS ’ S THEORY A new semantic framework. not of language: we have no intuitions about a thought or a content being ambiguous. any interpreter in her right mind would read it one way rather than the other). but he could not have claimed that it just made no sense to do so. Had (two-factor) theories of language been at issue. 82). of Frege’s view’ on the notion of sense can be vindicated (2002a. Similarly with de dicto-de re ambiguities (‘The Pope is necessarily a Catholic’) and every other bona fide ambiguity.e. Fodor’s objection against two-factor semantics was perceived as potentially devastating because it was aimed at two-factor theories of thoughts. Clearly. in other words. two-dimensional semantics. perhaps they should come to be perceived as ambiguous by the informed observer.e. that the meaning-function assigns to ‘bank’ two entities of the same kind.. expression (in every context) −→ {sense1. P 3.. would it be true or would it be false?” (Fodor 1987. sense2} Similarly. attributing ambiguity is all right only if the phenomena we are dealing with (say. Fodor’s objection would have had a different import: he could have claimed that it was highly counterintuitive for a theory to make so many sentences ambiguous by assigning them two distinct and possibly incompatible truth conditions. worst of all.5 Of course. It comes in several varieties (for a survey. There may be contexts of use such that one rather than the other form is strongly preferred (i. The phenomena that the theory declares to be ambiguous should exhibit the patterns of behaviour that are typical of ambiguous phenomena: they should pass certain tests. linguistic expressions) are ambiguous. i. 6) and that ’a broadly Fregean account of . has been in the field for a few years. 2002c). “What on Earth would the content of such a thought be? What sentence would one use to express it? And.TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 327 two meanings. ambiguity should not just be an artefact of the theory.6 Chalmers is both a Fregean and a Kripkean: he believes that the spirit. and a theory that makes them ambiguous is a perfectly decent theory. there is nothing inherently wrong with the third solution: it makes perfect sense to regard certain words and sentences as ambiguous. though the most thoroughly worked out is undoubtedly the work of David Chalmers. when we say that the sentence ‘Every boy loves a girl’ is semantically ambiguous we are saying that it has two logical forms. if not the letter.

the solution he offers is ultimately unsatisfactory. 56–65). My presentation of the theory will be based on Chalmers’s recent work. I will try to answer the question whether the theory is a viable solution to the problem. 35) which is meant to capture the Kripkean intuitions concerning counterfactual evaluation. in spite of Chalmers’s theoretical brilliance. In later writings. particularly on 2002c. since it is not my purpose to assess the theory’s effectiveness in grounding Chalmers’s views on consciousness. where it was intended to ground the crucial inference from ‘World W is conceivable’ to ‘World W is possible’. as a semantic theory purporting to account for our semantic intuitions. Chalmers’s theory must face the articulation problem. Thus. In this paper. I will not elaborate on this. As such. technical ability. every linguistic expression has two intensions. I will argue that. if there is one. H2 O). if W has that substance. I will disregard the formulations of (1996) unless they are in substantial agreement with more recent versions of the theory. the subjunctive intension of ‘Water is XYZ’ is the constant function that assigns falsity to every world. Chalmers has radically qualified both the 1996 formulation of the theory and its effectiveness in licensing the inference. the subjunctive intension of ‘Water is H2 O’9 is the constant function that assigns truth to every world. the subjunctive intension of ‘water’ is the function that assigns to each world W the substance that is water in the actual world (supposedly. and generally sound intuitions. Correspondingly. but he also believes that ‘senses should be supplemented by a further semantic value. and some conventional entity or nothing at all otherwise. both Fregean and Kripkean. a subjunctive intension’ (2002a. 35). For example.8 Subjunctive intensions are familiar objects: they are just the usual functions from possible worlds to (appropriate) extensions.7 According to the theory. . Chalmers’s version of two-dimensional semantics was introduced for the first time in his book The Conscious Mind (Chalmers 1996. and the subjunctive intension of ‘the king of France’ assigns to each world W the individual who is the king of France in W.328 DIEGO MARCONI meaning is tenable’ (2002a. that can be seen as ‘capturing two dimensions of meaning’ (2002c. and 2002a. Chalmers’s is a ‘dualist’ semantic framework that aims at accounting for both the Fregean and the Kripkean intuitions by exploiting notions from both the Fregean and the Kripkean family. 2002b. and the subjunctive intension of ‘The king of France is a liar’ is the function that assigns truth or falsity to a world depending on whether whoever is the unique king of France in that world (if there is one) is or is not a liar. I want to examine the theory for its own sake. 4): an epistemic intension and a subjunctive intension.

Or again. it would have been that T’ (2002c. by uttering a statement in the subjunctive mode. and also to ‘govern the cognitive and rational relations among thoughts’ (1996. Intuitively. equivalent examples in 2002c. 57. lakes and rivers are filled with a different. 2). 2002c. lakes and rivers are filled with XYZ: then ‘water’ designates XYZ. 2002b. we are not saying that there is a world where the oceans. empirical facts about the actual world make a difference to how we describe it. 5). Epistemic intensions are said to ‘back a priori truth’ (1996. 24). They govern cognitive. suppose we are in a world where seas. 2002c. 5. Consequently. The connection is not entirely clear (nor is Chalmers explicit about it). they are involved in the semantic evaluation of statements of such forms as ‘It might have been that S’. 65. or ‘If it had been that S.18). more nutritious substance. The immediate Kripkean objection that there are no such worlds (e. because water. 2002c. or rational.. 2002a. For example.TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 329 Subjunctive intensions determine an expression’s extension in worlds ‘considered as counterfactual’. For example. 61. 8–9. They back a priori truth in that ‘If one thought implies another thought a priori. presumably. in saying ‘Water might have been more nutritious than it is’ we are saying that there is a counterfactual world where water – actual water. H2 O – is more nutritious than it happens to be. being H2 O. nothing rules out the possibility that the watery stuff in seas and lakes is XYZ. an expression’s epistemic intension determines its extension in a world considered as actual (1996. 8). as a matter of empirical fact. vice-versa] (2002b. in the evaluation of ’Water might have been more nutritious than it is’ it makes a difference that. For all we know a priori. 9. The underlying idea seems to be that. water might be XYZ (1996.10 Epistemic intensions are less familiar and harder to define. Thus what we mean by ‘water’ in such contexts depends on what the word picks out in the actual world: an expression’s subjunctive intension is what the expression means in such contexts. relations in that an expression’s (or a thought’s) cognitive content is supposed to . suppose we are in a world where the star that is brightest in the evening is the planet Mars: if such is the case. cf. 5. Chalmers says (2002b. 2002a. the epistemic intension associated with the first entails the epistemic intension associated with the second’ [and. 3. in considering a world as actual. 8. Chalmers says that “In considering a world as counterfactual. 15). For example. 2002b.g. they do not” (2002b 10). 62). 39). we are taking the standpoint of the actual world: from that standpoint we assert something concerning worlds that are counterfactual with respect to our standpoint. then ‘Hesperus’ turns out to refer to Mars (1996. 65. has that nature in all possible worlds) is taken care of by Chalmers by insisting that the objection depends on a posteriori knowledge: a priori. water is H2 O.

e. contain XYZ’. 2002c.12 For example.330 DIEGO MARCONI be captured by its epistemic intension: for example. and it is epistemically necessary ’when in some sense. For example. 34). nor do the details of the construction. Formally. Intuitively. S does not ‘leave any possibility open’).. 5. An epistemic possibility is a way the world might turn out to be. 20). the relations between beliefs. He defines two ways in which scenarios might be understood: as centered possible worlds (i. 3. a thought) is said to be epistemically possible when its negation is not epistemically necessary (2002c.).e. and ‘Hesperus has never been visible in the evening sky’ to be .. ‘All bachelors are unmarried’ is said to be epistemically necessary. or as purely epistemic entities that are themselves understood as linguistic constructions. 5–6). 4).e. it is a complete sentence that entails some qualitative description somehow amounting to ‘Oceans. 21). A statement (or. In the centered-worlds interpretation. which represents the perspective of the speaker within the world (2002b. or the similarity between the actions of two people who think I am hungry.. for that matter. the notion of epistemic intension is meant as an explicatum of the dimension of meaning on which ‘Hesperus’ and ‘Phosphorus’ (or ‘water’ and ‘H2O’) differ. 19). even when the beliefs have very different subjunctive content: witness the behaviour that my twin and I produce when we think about twin water and water respectively. ‘Water is XYZ’ is true at a scenario V if V is an XYZ-scenario. scenarios are maximal epistemic possibilities (2002b. possible worlds marked with a ‘center’. Chalmers goes to some length to make these notions precise. ‘corresponding to the difference in their cognitive and rational roles’ (2002c. In short. 2002c. A whole dimension of the explanation of behaviour is hard for subjunctive content to explain. lakes etc. These alternatives need not concern us here. not on their subjunctive intensions: Belief states can produce very similar behaviour for apparently systematic reasons. A sentence S of L is complete if it is epistemically possible and there is no D such that both S&D and S&∼D are epistemically possible (i. if not a full-fledged analytic-synthetic distinction. a sentence’s epistemic intension is a function from scenarios to truth values (2002c. 5)).11 Under no interpretation do scenarios really remove the inherent vagueness of the idea of epistemic possibility. for all we know a priori (2002c. Both notions appear to presuppose some boundary between knowledge of language and factual knowledge. purely qualitative language. (2002b. it rationally must be true’ (ib. In the purely epistemic interpretation. an XYZ-scenario is a world centered on a subject surrounded by XYZ (see 2002b. as equivalence classes of complete sentences in an idealized. it is said to be maximal if it is maximally specific. i. 18). desires and behaviour depend on the involved thoughts’ epistemic intensions.

By contrast. An expression’s two-dimensional intension is intended to ‘capture how its subjunctive intension will vary. 6). depending on which epistemic possibility turns out to be actual’ (2002a. 11. 6–7. thus ‘Water is a liquid’ and ‘Water is drinkable’ should be epistemically necessary. So the notion of epistemic necessity is vague. 23). similarly. few would say that the child doesn’t know the meaning of ‘water’. cf. 62). These examples suggest an interpretation of epistemic necessity (and of aprioricity) in terms of Quine’s ‘humble’ analyticity (Quine. So. then if W had obtained. Chalmers also defines two-dimensional intensions (2002b. at any pair (VH2O . Formally. and a possible world W in which the oceans and seas are filled with H2 O: the sentence ‘Water is H2 O’ is false at (VXYZ . consequently. or ‘Rain is water’. therefore water is XYZ in all possible worlds including W. it is defined as a function from scenarios to subjunctive intensions. would S have been the case?’ (2002c. W) for any W. In addition to epistemic and subjunctive intensions. for suppose VXYZ is actual: then ‘water’ designates XYZ. W) ‘Water is H2 O’ is true.g. whereas it is epistemically possible if it does not contradict minimal semantic competence. 21). world) pairs to extensions. the epistemic intension of water picks out a substance with certain superficial characteristics (e. these are fuzzy notions: what about ‘Oceans are mostly water’. a statement seems to be epistemically necessary if it expresses minimal semantic competence. For example.13 However. This would identify epistemic necessity with constitutivity of semantic competence (Marconi 1997. 38). 38. ‘Water is XYZ’ is true at (VXYZ . By a parallel argument. 2002a. semantic competence is notoriously hard to delimit. 23). We are likewise told that ‘In any given world. 38). To figure out the value of the two-dimensional intension of a sentence S at scenario V for a world W. 78–80): anybody who acquires the word ‘Hesperus’ also comes to believe that Hesperus is visible in the evening sky.TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 331 epistemically impossible (2002c. or equivalently as a mapping from (scenario. W) for any W. 23). 2002a. 2002c. cf. or in terms of canonical descriptions.. 30–31). it is not the case that water is H2 O in W (given that VXYZ is actual). in one formulation (2002c. would it have been the case that S?’ (2002b. then if D2 [= the canonical description of W] had been the case. a clear drinkable liquid)’ (2002b. still. However. while ‘Water is watery stuff’ is (1996. 3. 11. 1973. 2002c. or ‘Water is used to cook food’? These are truths that a child of four might ignore. We are told that ‘Water is H2 O’ is not epistemically necessary. Chalmers suggests that we ask the question: ‘If V is actual. ‘If D1 [= the canonical description of V] is the case. anybody who acquires the word ‘water’ comes to believe that water is a drinkable liquid.14 . take an XYZ-scenario VXYZ.

15–17). Chalmers repeatedly and emphatically rejects the question of which is the content of a thought. Chalmers insists that the two intensions are differentially relevant to different phenomena: for example. so to speak. To take care of all such cases we need epistemic intension. or is it to be interpreted both ways? Or perhaps it is to be interpreted epistemically in some cases (e. or of a linguistic expression (2002b. however. or sentences-in-a-context. in certain syntactic contexts) and subjunctively in others? Is a one-one correspondence presupposed between sentences. 14. for the difference between believing that Superman is across the road and believing that Clark Kent is across the road. This. As we shall shortly see. 39). for Pierre’s predicament with Londres and London. first and foremost. as people have frequently assumed in recent years (2002b. and the phenomena that either intension is intended to explain? After all. 15).332 DIEGO MARCONI Why would one need such a theory. the idea is that every expression has both kinds of content. a twodimensional intension)? Chalmers’s answer is simple and straightforward: we need it because meaning.g. 22). This seems to entail that any sentence has both an epistemic and a subjunctive reading: are such readings always alive. 2002a. or are they differentially alive? Depending on what? There is little doubt that such questions are crucial to the theory’s viability as a semantic theory.. he also hints at the role of subjunctive content in understanding the success ‘of communication and of collective action’ (2002b. 10). For example. synthetically. Chalmers does have answers . to account for all relevant phenomena we must assume that a thought (or a sentence) has both an epistemic and a subjunctive intension. a semantic theory is. In general. or content is indeed twofold. a device for the interpretation of language. 2002c. is ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’ only to be interpreted epistemically. so we need to be told how the theory is to be put to use in the interpretation of real life sentences. does not tell us whether both intensions are also differentially relevant to the interpretation of different linguistic expressions. the epistemic and the subjunctive. and it fares very poorly in the explanation of behaviour (2002b. We cannot get by with just subjunctive content. epistemic intension must be invoked to explain the informativeness of a thought such as Hesperus is Phosphorus or the compatibility of Pierre’s two beliefs (2002b. whereas subjunctive intension is needed to correctly determine the truth conditions of counterfactual conditionals (2002b. 24. 14): subjunctive content does not account for the cognitive difference between ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’ and ‘Hesperus is Hesperus’. assigning to each expression both a subjunctive and an epistemic intension (or.

g. on the other hand.e. it would have been that T’). rather. A sentence is in no sense ambiguous for having both epistemic intensions and subjunctive intensions. if any. So. then T’).. or two-dimensionally depending on its syntactic form. ‘if S. that (e. In epistemic contexts (‘it is a priori that S’. (2002c. is the meaning or content of an expression. The problem with two-dimensional semantics as a solution of this kind is twofold: on the one hand. and it is certainly not ‘combined’.e. it is a combined context. the subjunctive intension will be most relevant. though they are neither perfectly consistent nor entirely convincing. Property 1 assigns epistemic intensions to (expressions in) epistemic contexts. What about (1)? (1) Water is XYZ This is not classified as either an epistemic or a subjunctive context. i. see also 2002a.15 There is no need to settle the question of which of these. this is essentially the first solution: there are three semantic properties. Different aspects of this semantic value will be relevant to the evaluation of the sentence in different contexts. and property 3 assigns twodimensional intensions to combined contexts. a sentence is to be semantically evaluated (‘read’) epistemically. 39. which intension is relevant in the case of (1)? If we want to account for both the Fregean and the Kripkean intuitions (as Chalmers’s theory would like to). we should not choose. mapping different domains (sets of contexts) to different entities. Let us start with the first difficulty. In subjunctive contexts (‘it might have been that S’.e.. one-one correspondence between syntactic structures and intended readings. the epistemic intension will be most relevant. it is doubtful that there is a perfect. the two-dimensional intension will be most relevant. not epistemically). it has a complex semantic value..TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 333 to such questions. or subjunctively. 21–23) Considered as a solution to the Articulation Problem.) all and only syntactically subjunctive contexts are to be read subjunctively and only subjunctively (i. ’if it had been that S. 4. property 2 assigns subjunctive intensions to subjunctive contexts. In combined epistemic-subjunctive contexts. FACING THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM Sometimes. it is not clear that Chalmers’s taxonomy of contexts is exhaustive. but rather assign it both intensions: for the Kripkean would regard (1) as necessarily . Chalmers appears to suggest that each intension is relevant to a definite class of syntactic contexts: i. The domains are disjoint by definition: if a context is both epistemic and subjunctive. ‘it might turn out that S’.

Perhaps Chalmers himself is not entirely at ease with his own characterization of two-dimensional semantics as a type-1 solution. (2).e. it is not true just because water can’t be XYZ). he seems to be leaning towards a type-2 solution. then one could say that S expresses two propositions. Moreover.17 particularly when he insists that.g.. which is meant to be captured by the sentence’s epistemic intension. aside from the difficulty highlighted by (1). Such people are sensitive to Chalmers’s ‘cognitive’ or ‘rational’ role of the antecedent in both (2) and (2 ). even in the case of contexts that are explicitly included in Chalmers’s taxonomy the proposed treatment is unconvincing from the standpoint of the intuitions that motivate the theory. for its antecedent is false at all possible worlds. not subjunctively. e. it would have been discovered long ago. (2) and (2 ) should be read epistemically. et pour cause: either choice would be hard to justify for a theory that will not forsake either the Kripkean or the Fregean intuitions. (2) is on a par with (2 ): (2 ) If water were XYZ. people who feel that. there could be arguments for or against (2) or (2 ). it would never be discovered This may be all right with some people’s intuitions. as it turns out to be if it is evaluated on the basis of its subjunctive intension.. In this respect. is a subjunctive context and ought to be assigned a subjunctive intension. such as a structure of intensions). being a counterfactual conditional.16 Chalmers’s taxonomy is silent about (1). one complex semantic value is assigned to each linguistic expression: If one’s conception of a proposition is a set of possible worlds (or something similar. subjunctive (requiring a subjunctive reading). whereas the Fregean would regard it as only contingently false (so she must have the epistemic intension in mind). So. Contexts cannot be nicely split into epistemic (requiring an epistemic reading). Take (2) If water were XYZ. an . syntactically subjunctive contexts do not invariably elicit Kripkean intuitions.334 DIEGO MARCONI false. part of the point of Chalmers’s theory seemed to consist in vindicating the intuitions of other people. Sometimes.. To do justice to such intuitions. if true. read subjunctively.g. who feel that (2). However. and combined (requiring a two-dimensional reading) without begging the issue against the very intuitions that Chalmers’s theory is intended to vindicate. independently of context. is trivially true. for he does not consistently stick to it throughout his papers. (2). the ‘deep’ reason why Chalmers’s solution cannot be of Type 1 is that the intuitions the theory is supposed to vindicate do not neatly correspond to linguistic contexts: e. is not trivially true (i. Now.

namely {(3 ). Are the two ‘dimensions’ of meaning that twodimensional semantics acknowledges independent semantic properties? Or . Or again. The ambiguity is not avoided simply by regarding two properties. as making up one semantic value. one might suspect ambiguity. But if one’s conception of a proposition is more generally of what remains semantically of S once the arbitrary clothing of a given language is stripped away. Chalmers is stressing that an expression’s semantic value is the complex entity consisting of both the epistemic and the subjunctive intension (‘S expresses a complex proposition with a two-dimensional structure’). However. since ambiguity would involve expressing two propositions in the second sense. then the expression is being regarded as semantically ambiguous even if P1 and P2 are conceived as ‘parts’ or ‘aspects’ of one semantic whole (remember Fodor’s criticism of two-factor theories). Similarly. (3 )} (it would be ambiguous if it had two such complex logical forms). and both properties have the same range. 25) Here. then one could say that S expresses a complex proposition with a two-dimensional structure. (3 ) (3 ) (∀x)(x is a boy ⊃ (∃y)(y is a girl & x loves y)) (∃y)(y is a girl & (∀x)(x is a boy ⊃ x loves y)). financial institution} (whereas ambiguity would involve expressing two such complex notions). although the word ‘bank’ expresses two notions (the notion of bordering elevation and the notion of financial institution). but this is not the way it works. P1 and P2 . it is not really ambiguous for it really expresses the complex notion {bordering elevation. This is why no ambiguity is involved: if two values were assigned. it will not be acceptable to say that the sentence (3) Every boy loves a girl is not ambiguous by virtue of having two readings or logical forms. the fact that an utterance of S expresses two propositions in the first sense in no way entails that the utterance is ambiguous. (2002a. It will not do to say that.TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 335 epistemic proposition and a subjunctive proposition. One should not run these two conceptions together: for example. whether a theory is a type-2 or a type-3 solution to the Articulation Problem does not depend on whether different assignments of semantic values are declared to be packed into a single ‘complex’ assignment: it depends – as we saw – on whether the acknowledged semantic properties are independent. charges of ambiguity are not so easily rejected. for it really has one complex logical form. What matters is the properties’ role in semantic evaluation: if an expression is to be evaluated on the basis of both P1 and P2 .

that ‘water’ is also assigned its epistemic intension: for otherwise there would not be scenarios at which ‘Water is H2 O’ is false. whereas epistemic intensions are functions from scenarios to extensions. Chalmers’s solution to the Articulation Problem would turn out to be a type-2 solution. a form of two-factor semantics. One may say that. and scenarios may or may not be (centered) possible worlds. in the case of Chalmers’s theory we have the following problem. A viable type-2 theory must be such that the factors do not assign entities of the same kind (otherwise. are epistemic intensions and subjunctive intensions entities of a different kind? The answer seems to hinge on how epistemic intensions are defined. if not from the perspective of a type-1 .. the subjunctive reading. that (4) comes out false on the epistemic reading does not just follow from the epistemic interpretation of necessity. therefore. however. however. To avoid this conclusion. how can this move be justified.336 DIEGO MARCONI in other words. 326) that type-2 solutions to the Articulation Problem stand or fall with the actual independence of the semantic factors they identify. given that scenarios are intended to be epistemic possibilities. Notice. Now. there are scenarios at which ‘Water is H2 O’ comes out false. If scenarios are defined as possible worlds. However. for the subjunctive intension of ‘Water is H2 O’ is true at all worlds. then (4) is bound to be false. they are identified with purely epistemic possibilities one is free to maintain that the two intensions are not entities of the same kind. as Chalmers would have it (2002a. (4) must have an epistemic reading alongside a subjunctive one.e. (4) is true. So. then the conclusion that both intensions are entities of the same kind can hardly be escaped. e. an ambiguity-ascribing solution). i.g. Take the sentence (4) Water is necessarily H2 O. Under this interpretation. we saw (p. What about the epistemic reading? No doubt. If. within the context of a type-2 solution. we must force either reading. assigning epistemic truth conditions this way amounts to interpreting the adverb ‘necessarily’ in (4) in terms of aprioricity (truth in every scenario is just a priori truth). if we take the epistemic truth conditions of (4) to be such that (4) is true (at any scenario) just in case ‘Water is H2 O’ is verified by every scenario.18 However. the theory turns into a type-3 solution. the point is that. 22).. It is not surprising that the most natural way of reading (4) epistemically entails that ‘necessarily’ is read epistemically as well. Read subjunctively. Thus. if (4) is allowed to receive both readings it will receive conflicting truth values. However. For subjunctive intensions are functions from possible worlds to the appropriate extensions.

in spite of his occasional insistence to that effect. 1996. So. that it solves the Articulation Problem by making language systematically ambiguous. but rather their combination into the entity that is called a ‘twodimensional intension’. determine incompatible truth values for many sentences. some sentences will turn out to receive incompatible truth values. let us pause to wonder whether another option might be open to us (and to Chalmers): maybe the complex semantic value we need is not just the pairing of the epistemic and the subjunctive intension (as we have assumed). . not without betraying its original inspiration.DIMENSIONAL INTENSION Let us take stock. 51. 5. epistemic intensions and subjunctive intensions are not entities of the same kind. 63). i. We saw that Chalmers’s solution cannot be of type 1. as in (4). This would contradict Chalmers’s explicit pronouncements to the effect that two-dimensional intension is not relevant to the semantic evaluation of every expression: ‘its full structure will be relevant only in rare cases’ (2002a. . In a way. however. The two intensions.20 Perhaps Chalmers’s theory is a type-2 solution after all. cf. 23). TWO . It could be regarded as of type 2. . Before exploring this possibility. this is as it should be: epistemic and subjunctive intensions are meant to yield different truth conditions for the same sentence: We can say that . However. It remains that the theory is a type-3 solution. though not of the same kind (at least under the ‘epistemic possibility’ interpretation of scenarios). except that the complex semantic value that is assigned is just two-dimensional intension. if every sentence is assigned both an epistemic and a subjunctive intension in all contexts. for.e. whereas ‘most of the time we need only appeal to a thought’s epistemic and subjunctive intensions’ (2002b. this is enough to rule out Chalmers’s theory as a type-2 solution to the Articulation Problem. for in type-2 solutions the assigned semantic values must not interfere with each other. and subjunctive truth-conditions (showing how S’s truth varies in counterfactual possibilities) (2002a. S has epistemic truth-conditions (showing how S’s truth depends on how the world turns out). however. if it is so regarded – so that both the epistemic and the subjunctive intension play a role in the evaluation of every expression – then conflicting assignments are determined whenever modal expressions are involved.. strictly.TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 337 solution?19 But we already saw that Chalmers’s theory cannot be a type1 solution to the Articulation Problem.

Let us start with the problematic (1): (1) Water is XYZ. though as a matter of fact it is false. This is as it should be. evaluation by two-dimensional intension fits the intuition that a sentence like (1) might be necessarily true as well as necessarily false. On the contrary. Therefore. is XYZ in every W. the two-dimensional intension of (2) determines a function that assigns T to every world W. whereas in a non-XYZ-scenario (e. two-dimensional intension ’captures how its subjunctive intension will vary. the intuition is not captured by the two-dimensional reading. in an H2 Oscenario) it assigns F to all worlds. which has no room for the simple possibility of (1). depending on which epistemic possibility turns out to be actual’ (2002a. as Chalmers says.e. in a scenario where the oceans. necessarily false. though false.. let us try. not being XYZ in V. in an XYZ-scenario (i.. two-dimensional intension assigns a subjunctive intension which. The possibility that (1) be true is captured by the a-priori consistency of an XYZ-scenario. it would have been discovered long ago. are replete with XYZ) the twodimensional intension of (1) assigns T to all worlds. The two-dimensional intension of (1) is a function that assigns to a scenario V a function that assigns to a possible world W the value True if whatever is water in V is XYZ in W. might be true. it would be necessarily true). being XYZ in V.. indeed.338 DIEGO MARCONI 11. As we saw. In other words. Or is it? Is the Fregean happy with an evaluation on which water might be necessarily XYZ? This is not what she had in mind: what she had in mind was that (1). i.. is not XYZ in any W. so that (1) is necessarily false. This is due to the fact that. To each epistemic possibility. the remark can safely be extended to language). that water might be XYZ (though it isn’t). for sentences like (1). the conditional is trivially . things being as they are. lakes etc. Still. this is captured by the epistemic reading: there is a scenario that verifies (1).e. for water. This is not the Fregean intuition. This appears to fit the intuitions that the theory is trying to preserve: ‘Water is XYZ’ might be true (in that case. contra Chalmers. i. Let us now look at the equally problematic (2): (2) If water were XYZ. and the value False if whatever is water in V is not XYZ in W. in any scenario (1) is either necessarily true or necessarily false.e. whereas its de facto necessary falsity is captured by ours being a non-XYZ-scenario. 23). for water. Consequently. is bound to be either a necessary truth or a necessary falsity.g. In a non-XYZ-scenario.

in such an eventuality. lakes etc. (2) is necessarily and trivially true (for water cant’ be XYZ). i. however. To people who don’t take (2) to be trivially true for ‘Kripkean’ reasons. depending on whether it was long ago discovered in W that water is XYZ.. are filled with H2 O). one may wonder how it could have been discovered that water (that is.. This corresponds to the following picture: As it turns out (a posteriori).g. This would amount to taking both intensions as entities of essentially the same kind. VXYZ-water) is XYZ. 6. is bound to be trivial. By contrast. So. nevertheless. Indeed. Chalmers says that the notion of necessity should be recognized as ambiguous: there is an epistemic variety of necessity and . for all we know a priori it might be true. Such a picture does not seem to fit our intuitions of what (2) means. Even two-dimensional intension doesn’t really help. it might) have been discovered long ago that water is XYZ. by insisting that subjunctive conditionals like (2) are to be read subjunctively (2002c. IS AMBIGUITY THE ANSWER ? If evaluation by two-dimensional intension does not manage to make Chalmers’s theory into a type-2 solution to the Articulation Problem. (2) does not say: Suppose we are in an XYZ-world. so the antecedent of (2) is false in every W and the whole conditional is true everywhere. For XYZ-worlds. as Chalmers himself did in the past and still does occasionally. given a non-XYZ-scenario water is not XYZ in any W. Two-dimensional semantics inherits from the Kripkean treatment of natural identities the inability to deal with non-trivial readings of conditionals like (2). In fact. it would have been discovered long ago. 39) Chalmers is just biting the bullet: we saw that (2).e. or again it might be false. whereas it is true of false. independently of whether the nature of water was long manifest in W. read subjunctively. it is contingent in an XYZ-scenario. this is obvious. depending on W-local discoveries. then it could (or. it remains that the solution is of type 3. For non-XYZ-worlds (e. in worlds relative to an XYZ-scenario. It is not surprising that two-dimensional intension does no better than subjunctive intension with (2) (or other similar counterfactual conditionals): the apparatus of two-dimensional semantics is simply not fit for dealing with non-trivial readings of counterfactuals. (2) is necessarily – and trivially – true given a non-XYZ-scenario. for worlds where the oceans. there is no inconsistency in supposing that it might have.TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 339 true in all worlds W. in an XYZ-scenario the two-dimensional intension of (2) determines a function that assigns T or F to a world W.21 In one of his papers. It says that. in no way can it do justice to ‘Fregean’ intuitions about their truth conditions.

It is then natural to conclude that ‘It might have been that S’ and ’It might not have been that S’ are both ambiguous: it would be surprising if the ambiguity of ’might’ did not carry over to the latter contexts. then many other expressions are bound to be ambiguous as well. self-moving. the ambiguity of the modal notions and idioms carries with . we saw that such a claim does not quite agree with the intuitions that underlie the theory (this is one reason why Chalmers’s solution of the Articulation Problem cannot be considered to be of type 1).. Now. Now suppose that the word ‘cat’ is not ambiguous in any way: it has one and only one intension. it is not possible in the other sense. meowing beings of that world. In other words. So ’It is possible that S’ and ‘It is necessary that S’ are both ambiguous. Consider the statement (5) Cats are Martian robots and suppose we want to say that it is possible in one sense of ‘possible’. But if the notions are ambiguous. (5) is possible in one sense. however. which is a function that assigns to every possible world the species ‘cat’ (or the individuals in that world that have the same nature as actual cats). then there is no world where ‘cat’ picks out a Martian robot and not an animal: so there is no room for (5) to be possible in the former. ‘epistemic’ sense. for it is (usually taken to be) synonymous with ‘It is possible that S’. as such words are taken to express the notions of possibility and necessity.340 DIEGO MARCONI a ‘subjunctive’. 4). for we can imagine – a priori – a world or scenario in which the furry. then (5) is possible in the epistemic sense. Therefore. selfmoving. cats being animals with a certain DNA). then it is natural to assume that the notion of possibility is likewise ambiguous. If so. ‘It might be that S’ is also ambiguous. meowing objects we call ‘cats’ are Martian artefacts. and there is no way we could justifiedly declare it to be impossible. it seems that if the modal notions and the modal idioms are ambiguous. there is no possible world in which something would have a different nature and still be a cat. respectively. then the words ‘possible’ and ‘necessary’ must also be ambiguous. things being as they are (i. If on the other hand we take the intension of ‘cat’ to be a function that assigns to each possible world the furry. or metaphysical variety. consider the statement ‘Cats might be Martian robots’ and suppose we want to say that it is true in one sense of ‘might’ but false in the other). This conclusion appears to conflict with Chalmers’s claim that ‘It might have been that S’ is to be read subjunctively.e. for otherwise the two notions would not be fully interdefinable. though not in the other (or equivalently. for. ‘with two corresponding means of evaluation in possible worlds’ (2002d. If the notion of necessity is ambiguous.

Consider proper names.22 Actually. . then. It may be that every sentence has both an epistemic and a subjunctive reading. we can consult our linguistic intuitions. . but they do no more than that (2002a. independently of any empirical investigation. let us stipulate that the description ‘the Hesperizer’ has the same epistemic intension as ‘Hesperus’ – an intension that is roughly approximated by the intension of ‘the evening star’. and so on. We shall then say that the epistemic intension of ‘Hesperus’ is the function that assigns to each world the Hesperizer of that world (if there is one). the subjunctive intension of a standard token of ‘Hesperus’ is the constant function that assigns the planet Venus to each world (as ’Hesperus’ refers to Venus in the actual world). there may be no description (and certainly no short description) with the same epistemic intension as the term. Second. We know that every proper name has both an epistemic and a subjunctive intension: for example. These descriptions may give one a rough and ready sense of how a term’s epistemic intension functions. have two methodological considerations that can be used to test any alleged ambiguity. or ‘the clear drinkable liquid in the oceans and lakes’ for water. rather than of a word that expresses two distinct and unrelated senses. the alleged ambiguity must stand up to test. 22). . we can ask empirically whether languages are in fact found that contain distinct words expressing the allegedly distinct senses. To bypass this sort of difficulties. if there is one. differing in their inferential potential. I propose to subject Chalmers’s theory (interpreted as a type-3 theory) to a slightly modified version of Kripke’s test: let us see if we can imagine a language in which the alleged ambiguity would be disambiguated. once again this is evidence that a unitary account of the word or phrase in question should be sought (Kripke 1979. Would we be surprised to find languages that used two separate words for the two alleged senses of the given word? If so. . while its epistemic intension is the function that assigns to each scenario (roughly) the evening star of that scenario. We . then. we would expect the ambiguity to be disambiguated by separate and unrelated words in some other languages. . including natural-kind words and proper names. 19). the best one can hope for is a description whose epistemic intension approximates that of the original term: as with ‘justified true belief’ for ‘knowledge’. that ‘Hesperus’ and ‘the evening star’ have the same epistemic intension is not to be taken for granted: For many or most terms. As Saul Kripke says. ] In these cases. As we noticed.TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 341 it the ambiguity of many other expressions. However. Why should the two separate senses be reproduced in languages unrelated to English? First. For example. ‘Bank’ is ambiguous.[. there is nothing inherently wrong in regarding natural language (or fragments of it) as systematically ambiguous. to that extent our linguistic intuitions are really intuitions of a unitary concept. genuine ambiguities are such that one can imagine (and occasionally find) a language in which the ambiguity does not materialize. If no such language is found.

Disenglish has another expression. i. i. his parents. Suppose that a Disenglish-speaking child hears the sentence for the first time and asks the quite legitimate question ‘Who is Napoleon?’. In Disenglish. the proper name ‘Napoleon’ has no epistemic intension: its one and only intension is the constant function that assigns Napoleon to every possible world. Could there be a language in which either proposition would be expressed by a different sentence. Thus the sentence of Disenglish (6 ) Napoleon had dark hair only expresses one proposition.. all sentences in which a proper name occurs are likewise ambiguous. his Kripkean parents will have no difficulty in helping . the subjunctive proposition expressed by (6). that I’ll call ‘Disenglish’ for ‘disambiguated English’. will tell him not to pay any special attention to such an association: the word ‘Napoleon’ – the parents will say – refers to Napoleon.e. it does not determine the truth conditions of sentences in which the word ‘Napoleon’ occurs. ‘Napoleon’ is just a rigid designator: whatever descriptive material may be associated with the word ‘Napoleon’ is not supposed to play any semantic role whatever: emphatically. the sentence (6) Napoleon had dark hair is ambiguous: it expresses two different propositions.e. The epistemic proposition expressed by (6) is expressed in Disenglish by (6 ): (6 ) The Napoleonizer had dark hair Let us now consider the sentence of Disenglish ‘Napoleon had dark hair’. etc. Or in other words. it has two distinct sets of truth conditions. However. (6 ).342 DIEGO MARCONI We are now treating a proper name’s double intension as involving ambiguity. so that no ambiguity would occur? Let us try the following. The child may feel quite confused. Thus the child will associate to the sound ‘Napoleon’ a certain amount of descriptive material. or ‘Whom are you talking about?’. namely ‘the Napoleonizer’. not to the entity that fits such and such a description. as competent speakers of Disenglish. On the other hand. However. Consequently. ‘the Napoleonizer’. whose (one and only) intension is exactly the epistemic intension that the English name ‘Napoleon’ is supposed to have.. It is plausible to suppose that his parents will answer the question by some linguistic characterization that fits Napoleon as closely as their education and patience allows them to provide. For example. Disenglish has another expression. For that entity.

this: as Disenglish speakers learn proper names. as we understand the distinction between a description that determines an expression’s truth conditions. whereas they could never discover that Napoleon was not Napoleon. why shouldn’t it arise in Disenglish as well? It seems that either there really is no such ambiguity in English (against the hypothesis). we have not been entirely successful in imagining a language that would not carry the alleged ambiguity. there is no reason why they should not be constantly aware that such descriptions do not give the meaning of the names and words they are associated with. by associating descriptions with them.23 Consequently. even though speakers of Disenglish may learn proper names and natural kind words by associating them with certain descriptions. Which is exactly the conclusion I think should be drawn from the experiment. though Napoleon did as a matter of fact Napoleonize. on the one hand. there is no reason why we should not attribute the same understanding to speakers of Disenglish. or if there is. but water might not have been H2 O. .TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 343 him sort out his confusion: they will tell him that. The point is. Thus. Thus. it is not the kind of ambiguity that is sensitive to Kripke’s test). But on the other hand – it could be replied – if the ambiguity does (supposedly) arise in English in spite of both our awareness of the descriptions’ double role and the presence of such expressions as ‘the watery stuff’. but water – never. So. Against this argument. he might not have Napoleonized (while still being Napoleon). Thus the ambiguity will arise in Disenglish exactly as it does in English. Then Chalmers’s theory is not a type-3 solution to the Articulation Problem either. and the like. he will say that watery stuff might not have been H2 O. however. and for the same reasons. in many cases. a competent speaker of Disenglish will never assent to (7): (7) Water is H2 O. The invited conclusion is that there is no epistemic/subjunctive ambiguity (or. the norms of Disenglish will not keep it from showing up there as well. the child’s confusion is not the point. and a mere reference-fixing description on the other hand. rather. that it is conceivable that the historians discover that Napoleon did not Napoleonize after all. it could be objected that. they will be able to motivate the existence in Disenglish of two expressions with quite distinct meanings. ‘Napoleon’ and ‘the Napoleonizer’. just like we do in English. In short. couldn’t the epistemic reading arise even with Disenglish sentences such as (6 )? For there is little doubt that it is the steady association of descriptive notions with proper names that motivates the epistemic reading of English sentences in the first place.

two-dimensional) apply to expressions in systematically different contexts cannot really be sustained: if the intuitions on which the theory is based are to be vindicated. and they represent different evaluations. the kind of ambiguity that would turn out to be involved does not behave like standard semantic ambiguity. issuing in different truth values (therefore the theory is not a type-2 solution. the theory is not easily regarded as a type-3 solution. for the contention that the several intensions (epistemic. the theory is not really a type-2 solution either. in a sense. There may be contexts for which one reading is strongly favoured (Chalmers’s theory may . CONCLUSION We saw that Chalmers’s theory cannot be classified as a type-1 solution to the Articulation Problem. So the theory is not a ‘two-factor’ theory. and they materialize wherever certain expressions occur (proper names. Moreover.. there have to be contexts in which an expression can be read both epistemically and subjunctively. The two readings cannot be made to correspond to different syntactic structures (this is why the theory is not a type-1 solution). i. our discussion of the last case (type 3) can perhaps throw some light on what the theory is really about (and on its considerable merits. subjunctive. On the other hand. for the several factors of the alleged complex intension that every expression is assigned do interfere (at least in certain cases) in semantic evaluation. settled: either family of theories is simply an attempt at privileging one reading over the other: an attempt that is bound to fail. a ‘two-factor’ theory). The basic intuition is that many sentences. then the issue between the Fregean theories and the Kripkean theories is. For if the two readings are really there.344 DIEGO MARCONI 7. However. the interesting point is not so much the formal apparatus as the double reading itself. or at any rate. A formal apparatus can be developed systematically to yield the two readings: such an apparatus would borrow heavily from Frege to derive one reading and from Kripke to derive the other. as a theory that treats every linguistic expression as ambiguous. natural-kind names. such as Cats might be Martian robots Cats could not be Martian robots Water is necessarily H2 O It is possible that water is XYZ admit of a double reading. So it seems that the theory is not a viable solution to the Articulation Problem.e. the modal idioms) so that they reappear in any language that has such expressions. However. if seen from the right viewpoint). or anyway not a tenable two-factor theory.

but no context where one reading is definitely ruled out. it may be that the epistemic reading is best interpreted as metasemantic rather than semantic.24 What kind of ambiguity is involved in the double reading? For we saw that it is not an ambiguity of the usual kind. nor is it to say that expressions have different semantic values in different contexts (we saw that both claims can be found in Chalmers). and there are people who think that ‘Water might not have been H2 O’ is all right as it stands (including Kripke himself. However. there would be no room for a unified theory of meaning accounting for both readings at the same time. there could be a disambiguating language. There are people who think that ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’ and ‘Hesperus is Hesperus’ are both a priori true (see Chalmers. as Robert Stalnaker has suggested (2001). We must learn to live with both accounts. possibility and necessity (this would explain why the ambiguity will not go away even in a language that disambiguates the modal idioms: for possibility and necessity would still be involved in the evaluation of non-modal expressions). 2002c. the form of his proposal is. and this possibility will concern any language that has (the equivalents of) such words. misleading to say the least. de re} reading to every expression independently of context. i. There cannot be any such theory. consistent fashion. any more than there could be one for. .e. 70).. the de dicto/de re double reading: there cannot be a theory that definitely and uniquely assigns the de re reading to certain contexts and the de dicto reading to other contexts. To this question I do not have a definite answer. In either case.TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 345 be seen as an attempt at exploiting this difference among contexts). or vice versa. or a theory that assigns one complex {de dicto. this is exactly what Chalmers is suggesting. would explain why the ambiguity will not go away: for the epistemic reading would then express the possibility that a word (such as ‘Hesperus’ or ‘water’) has a different semantic value than it does have. Both formulations betray a yearning for a unified semantic theory that would generate both readings in a clean. Or. a straightforward semantic ambiguity: if it were. This. say. too. before tutoring his own intuitions). To say that many expressions admit of a double reading is not to say that every expression has a ‘complex’ semantic value. This appears to indicate that both the Kripkean and the Fregean intuitions are extremely resilient: there is little hope that the Fregean will succeed in re-educating the Kripkean. In a way. It may be that Chalmers is on the right track when he suggests that the basic ambiguity concerns the modal notions. I believe.

10 However. 6 The earliest formulation of the two-dimensional picture is usually considered to be found in Stalnaker (1978). My label reflects this opposition. we shall suppose that all theories presuppose the same syntactic analysis of the languages they apply to.346 DIEGO MARCONI ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am indebted to discussions with Paolo Casalegno. Fodor and Lepore do not consider the ambiguity option. Tichy (1983) is in some respects closest to Chalmers’s proposal.htm.. I also greatly benefited from an extended exchange with David Chalmers. By that statement. David Chalmers refers to Kripke’s arguments and the intuitions they rely upon as having a prima facie bearing against the Fregean paradigm (see Chalmers 2002a). which are obviously attributed to tokens. Take the statement ‘The prime minister of Italy might have been taller than he is’.j value V ’ in the range of the f2 ’s. 8 In the theory’s first version (1996). for two reasons.unipmn. with non-rigid expressions it doesn’t necessarily work that way. Chris Gauker. Chalmers critically discusses Tichy’s views in 2002c. it may be doubted that Saul Kripke himself is an unqualified Millian. 2 For simplicity’s sake. Carlo Penco. Chalmers uses ‘1-intension’ and ‘2-intension’ as generic names or labels for the pre-theoretical entities that supposedly fit the two sets of intuitions to be captured by a two-dimensional semantic theory (see 2002c. In 2002c. we are supposing that f (e) = V entails that e is (also) assigned a 1. we are not necessarily saying that Mr. and the unabridged version of the present paper at http://www. as it does not seem to make a difference for the purposes of this paper. it was far from the intentions of the two-factor theoreticians whose views they are criticizing. Secondly. if they are functions from the same domain to the same range. Berlusconi – who. and Alberto Voltolini. they had been called ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’. Chalmers admits that an expression’s epistemic intension may vary across its uses (although there may be expressions whose epistemic intension is constant across all its tokens) (2002a. 5 In fact.lett. we might as well be saying that a different and . as a matter of fact. I will disregard the matter. What on earth would it mean?)” (1992. in Fodor and Lepore (1992) the same objection is aimed at two-factor theories of language: “What prevents there being and expression that has an inferential role appropriate to the content 4 is a prime but the truth conditions appropriate to the content water is wet? (We assume that no adequate semantics could allow such an expression. Clearly. NOTES 1 It would perhaps be more appropriate to label the paradigm ‘Millian’. Alfredo Paternoster. 9 In Chalmers’s presentation. 3 Two semantic values are of the same type if they belong to the same ontological domain: e. 7 Readers who are interested in the discussion leading to the recent formulations of Chalmers’s theory are invited to consult Chalmers (2002c). However. First. is the prime minister. Chalmers wants to compare his epistemic intensions with contextual intensions. 170). Among the early versions. Manuel Garcia Carpintero. 6).g.it/docenti/marconid/personale. the bearers of semantic properties are sentence tokens.might have been taller. 4 More precisely. 32).

and will have nothing to do with conflicting 2D semantic values per se” (D. i... 17 Chalmers himself says that “there is no question that [he] intended a type-2 interpretation”.e. 12 Frank Jackson.it/docenti/marconid/personale. etc.). Chalmers also introduces a slightly different definition of twodimensional intension. 11 Epistemic intensions for subsentential expressions are defined in slightly different ways depending on how scenarios are understood. however. we proceed as follows. only the first reading would be admissible. does endorse some form of analytic-synthetic distinction (1998. If they are understood epistemically. 13 Chalmers himself points out the connection between competence with an expression and the ability to know its extension ‘given sufficient information about the world’. then water could not be H O’ 2 (2002a.unipmn. 16 I will separately deal with the suggestion that (1) may be assigned a two-dimensional intension (see Section 5). Then an individual in V is defined as an equivalence class of singular terms (e.htm. but those facts together with the nature of the expression that is being evaluated. if they are equivalence classes of epistemically complete sentences in an idealized language (2002c. 23).g. the ambiguity was first pointed out by Bertrand Russell in (1905). Lycan 2000. Chalmers’s move to that effect is within a generally type-1 setting: see 2002a. For more recent formulations: “There is a robust and natural notion of narrow content such that narrow content has truth conditions of its own” (2002b. In a centered world considered as actual. 45–46). “These two sets of truth conditions yield two propositions associated with any statement” (ib. but I note that here any ambiguity will then be entirely due to an ambiguity in ‘necessarily’ (which can express either epistemic or subjunctive necessity). 15 An example of a combined context is ‘If water is XYZ. 19 In fact. Actually.. 44–45). 25). 21 “There are two sets of truth conditions associated with any statement” (1996. the real point seems to be essentialism: counterfactual water must be H2 O. 7). which is what knowledge of the epistemic intension is about (2002a. 20 This has been suggested in discussion by several people. and that “[he has] no sympathy with type-1 or type-3 interpretations” (personal communication). .g. this is true roughly when the clear. But if Chalmers’s remark applied in this case. see e. Chalmers. The epistemic intension of a general term such as ‘water’ will pick out a class C ‘in’ V such that x is in C iff D implies ‘T is water’ for some T that refers to x (i. whereas the counterfactual prime minister need not be Berlusconi. 43–46. Let D be a canonical description of a scenario V. ‘water is H2 O’. for some T in the equivalence-class that coincides with x ). which. 2). . 18 “If you think that the sentence [‘Water is necessarily H O’] has an epistemic reading 2 on which it is false. 14 In 2002c.TWO-DIMENSIONAL SEMANTICS AND THE ARTICULATION PROBLEM 347 taller man (for example. Rutelli) might have been prime minister (As is well known.lett.e. appears to run into some problems (for a discussion. . personal communication). see the Appendix in the unabridged version of this paper at http://www. 63).. then I am happy to play along. Mr. It doesn’t seem to me that Chalmers is equally explicit on the matter. Phosphorus is |Phosphorus|D ). Here I will be relying upon the definition given above. “. among whom Martine NidaRümelin and Wlodek Rabinowicz. also a proponent of two-dimensional semantics.). Two singular terms T1 and T2 are equivalent under V if D implies ‘T1 = T2’. What ‘makes a difference’ for subjunctive intension are not just the empirical facts about the actual world.

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