Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Philosophy; Philosophy of Language; Frege-Geach Problem; Normative Propositions; Expressivist Semantics

Major Advisor

Marcus Rossberg

Associate Advisor

Lionel Shapiro

Associate Advisor

Keith Simmons

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The aim of this dissertation is to provide support for the following claim: if Hanks' theory of propositions as act-types is correct, then there exists a plausible extension of this theory that solves the Frege-Geach problem for normative propositions. I assume that Hanks' theory is correct, and in this framework develop an account of semantic expressivism that addresses three versions of the Frege-Geach problem: the embedding, inference and negation problems.

First, I examine in detail one existing attempt to support the claim, due to Hom and Schwartz. I argue that their extension is not plausible for two reasons: it does not satisfy a key expressivist constraint, and it encounters a problem with interrogatives. Then I argue that even if their extension were plausible, it would not solve the embedding problem for conditionals, for two reasons: it does not place suitable constraints on applications of force-indicators, and it encounters a problem with mixed descriptive-normative conditionals.

Second, I give a new extension of Hanks' theory for atomic normative sentences, and argue that it is plausible. Then I extend it further by defining force-indicators that are generalizations of assertion and of normative endorsement (and of denial and anti-endorsement) and by defining logical relations that apply uniformly to assertive and normative propositions. I argue that this extension provides a neutral logical framework within which the embedding, inference and negation problems for normative propositions can be more effectively addressed.