With grateful thanks to Oxford University Library Services
And especially Sally Rumsey (ORA Service & Development Manager)

The PDF files listed below were downloaded from which links to:
(This was the first Oxford DPhil Thesis to be digitised for the archive.)

Updated 28 Apr 2016:
I had previously produced text versions of the abstract, preface, table of contents and chapter 1, from which searchable PDF had been derived. Now (April 2016) thanks to much help from a former PhD student, Luc Beaudoin (, the chapters that had not previously been transcribed were re-typed by Hitech because OCR technology seems still to be unable to cope with the very fuzzy scanned carbon copies of the original thesis. Luc has also helped with subsequent proof-reading (still in progress).

Updated 11 Feb 2014:
Split part 2 (preface, contents and chapter 1) into 2a (preface+contents) and 2b (Ch 1) (below).
Updated 10 Feb 2014:
Used OCR (tesseract) to create searchable, selectable plain text versions
of the Abstract, preface, table of contents and Chapter 1 (below).
Updated 9 Feb 2014:
Fixed link to Oxford Research Archive. (They change from time to time, unfortunately.)
Updated 8 Jan 2008:
Added more information about the contents of Appendices III and IV,
including links to some of my more recent work on those topics.

Updated 10 Jun 2007:
Slight reformatting, and added full table of contents copied from the PDF version.

Oxford University Thesis

Aaron Sloman: Knowing and Understanding (1962)

Relations between meaning and truth, meaning and necessary truth,
meaning and synthetic necessary truth

Reference: A. Sloman, (1962). Knowing and understanding. DPhil. University of Oxford.
Citable link to this page:

Title: Knowing and understanding
Subtitle: Relations between meaning and truth, meaning and necessary truth,
meaning and synthetic necessary truth


 Meaning (Philosophy), Vagueness, Truth, Immanuel Kant, Gottlob Frege,
 Synthetic necessary truth, Synthetic apriori knowledge, Logic, Geometry,
 Arithmetic, Functions vs rogators.
The aim of the thesis is to show that there are some synthetic necessary truths, and that synthetic apriori knowledge is possible. This is really a pretext for an investigation into the general connection between meaning and truth, or between understanding and knowing, which, as pointed out in the preface, is really the first stage in a more general enquiry concerning meaning. (Not all kinds of meaning are concerned with truth.) After the preliminaries (chapter one), in which the problem is stated and some methodological remarks made, the investigation proceeds in two stages. First there is a detailed inquiry into the manner in which the meanings or functions of words occurring in a statement help to determine the conditions in which that statement would be true (or false). This prepares the way for the second stage, which is an inquiry concerning the connection between meaning and necessary truth (between understanding and knowing apriori). The first stage occupies Part Two of the thesis, the second stage Part Three. In all this, only a restricted class of statements is discussed, namely those which contain nothing but logical words and descriptive words, such as "Not all round tables are scarlet" and "Every three-sided figure is three-angled". (The reasons for not discussing proper names and other singular definite referring expressions are given in Appendix I.)

Information from Oxford Web site

    Digital Origin:  Digitized other analog
                         Type of Award:      DPhil
                         Level of Award:     Doctoral
                         Awarding Institution:   University of Oxford

  About The Authors
     A. Sloman           More by this author on ORA site
    institution          University of Oxford
    faculty              Faculty of Literae Humaniores
    oxford College       St Antony's College

    Current institution  University of Birmingham

        Mr D.F. Pears
        Role    Supervisor

    Bibliographic Details
        Issue Date: 1962
            Urn: uuid:cda7c325-e49f-485a-aa1d-7ea8ae692877

    Item Description
        Type:       thesis;
        Language:   en
        Keywords (expanded above):
                    Meaning (Philosophy)

            Member of collection :  ora:thesis

        Copyright Holder:   Aaron Sloman

        Terms of Use:  Click here for ORA Terms of Use
This web page is loosely based on the corresponding ORA web page, though I have added a table of contents, which would otherwise be available only in one of the PDF files.

I have also added additional information about the contents, since the PDF files are not searchable.

Feb 2014:
The abstract, preface, table of contents and chapter 1 were translated by the tesseract OCR package, with post editing, into plain text files, whose contents are now searchable.

For more convenient printing, the text files were then converted to PDF (using Firefox 'print to file')

I previously wrote: "If anyone is able to automate the conversion to text of the remaining chapters I shall be very grateful!". As of April 2016, this has been done by manual typing, by an agency in India. Links to the newly provided PDF files are included for Chapters 3 to 8, Appendices and bibliography, alongside links to the original scanned images (also PDF).

At a later stage, a single document combining all the new text will be available, possibly in PDF and HTML formats.

(Sizes of PDF files are given below.
Most have not yet been converted to searchable text.)

Title page,
Abstract Scanned PDF
TXT Plain Text version (Most OCR errors corrected). (PDF of TXT)

Preface and Table of Contents, scanned PDF
TXT Plain Text version (Most OCR errors corrected). (PDF of TXT)

Part or Chapter Title Page Links to PDF files
----------------------------- -------- ---------------------
Chapter one: Introduction . . 1 PDF, TXT (PDF of TXT)
..... 1.A. The problems . . 1
..... 1.B. Methodological remarks . . 5
..... 1.C. The programme . 13
Chapter two: Propositions and meanings . 18 PDF
..... 2.A. Criteria of identity . 18
..... 2.B. General facts about language . 24
..... 2.C. Universals and strict criteria . 38
..... 2.D. The independence of universals . 50
Chapter three: Semantic rules . 63 PDF
..... Introduction . 63
..... 3.A. F-words . 64
..... 3.B. Logical syntheses . 70
..... 3.C. How properties explain . 83
..... 3.D. Non-logical syntheses . 93
..... 3.E. Concluding remarks and qualifications 102
Chapter four: Semantic rules and living languages 107 PDF
..... 4.A. Indefiniteness 107
..... 4.B. Ordinary language works 117
..... 4.C. Purely verbal rules 125
Chapter five: Logical form and logical truth 129 PDF
..... Introduction 129
..... 5.A. Logic and syntax 130
..... 5.B. Logical techniques 144
..... 5.C. Logical Truth 166
..... 5.D. Some generalisations 176
..... 5.E. Conclusions and qualifications 181
Chapter six: Analytic propositions 194 PDF
(NEW Ch6 PDF[still being corrected])
..... 6.A. Introduction 194
..... 6.B. Some unsatisfactory accounts of the distinction 199
..... 6.C. Identifying relations between meanings 217
..... 6.D. Indefiniteness of meaning 229
..... 6.E. Knowledge of analytic truth 236
..... 6.F. Concluding remarks 249
Chapter seven: Kinds of necessary truth 260 PDF
..... Introduction 260
..... 7.A. Possibility 261
..... 7.B. Necessity 272
..... 7.C. Synthetic necessary connections 283
..... 7.D. Informal proofs 294
..... 7.E. Additional remarks 319
Chapter eight: Concluding summary 329 PDF
(NEW Apps PDF)
..... . . I. Singular referring expressions 335
..... .. II. Confusions of formal logicians 340
This appendix presents arguments against the view that a natural language must include a formal system, and that logic is just a matter of syntax. One of the key points, also made by Frege, is that semantics cannot emerge from syntax alone: we also need to take account of the functions of the symbols used, not just their form.
..... . III. Implicit knowledge 357
This appendix gives examples of several kinds of implicit knowledge, including allowing for the deployment of implicit knowledge to be unreliable sometimes (Compare Chomsky's Competence/Performance distinction, 1965). The ability to do logic and mathematics, as well as many other kinds of things, depends on the use of implicit knowledge, which can be very difficult to make explicit. (At that point I knew nothing about the young science of AI which was beginning to provide new techniques for articulating implicit knowledge.)
..... . IV. Philosophical analysis 372
The ideas about implicit knowledge in Appendix III are used in Appendix IV to explain some of the puzzling features of the activity of conceptual analysis (disagreeing with R.M. Hare's explanation). This leads to further discussion of the nature of philosophical analysis and the claim that it cannot be concerned merely with properties of concepts: it must also be concerned with the world those concepts are used to describe, which may support different sets of concepts. This theme was taken up again many years later in my paper distinguishing logical topography from logical geography in
..... .. V. Further examples 381
..... . VI. Apriori knowledge 386
..... Bibliography 389 PDF
(NEW Bibliography PDF)

Summary of Downloadable Chapters
The PDF files on left
are original scanned images

Label Size Format(New PDF files, searchable
and much compressed)
Title page and abstract - sloman.pdf 1.9 MB (TXT version.) (Derived PDF)
Preface, TOC and Ch 1 - sloman.pdf 3.7 MB (TXT version.) (Derived PDF)
Ch 2 - sloman.pdf 8.7 MB (NEW Ch2 PDF)
Ch 3 sloman.pdf 7.2 MB (NEW Ch3 PDF)
Ch 4 - sloman.pdf 3.9 MB (NEW Ch4 PDF)
Ch 5 - sloman.pdf 12.2 MB (NEW Ch5 PDF)
Ch 6 - sloman.pdf 12.5 MB (NEW Ch6 PDF
(Still being corrected)
Ch 7 - Sloman.pdf 13 MB (NEW Ch7 PDF)
Ch 8 - sloman.pdf 1 MB (NEW Ch8 PDF)
Appendices - sloman.pdf 9.7 MB (NEW Apps PDF)
Bibliography - sloman.pdf 374.4 kB (NEW Bibliography PDF)

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Oxford University Research Archive (including theses).


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