Suppose a sentence of the following form is true in a certain context: ‘Necessarily, whenever one believes that the F is uniquely F if anything is, and x is the F, one believes that x is uniquely F if anything is’. I argue that almost always, in such a case, the sentences that result when both occurrences of ‘believes’ are replaced with ‘has justification to believe’, ‘knows’, or ‘knows a priori’ will also be true in the same context. I also (...) argue that many sentences of the relevant form are true in ordinary contexts, and conclude that a priori knowledge of contingent de re propositions is a common and unmysterious phenomenon. However, because of the pervasive context-sensitivity of propositional attitude ascriptions, the question what it is possible to know a priori concerning a given object will have very different answers in different contexts. (shrink)
We advocate and develop a states-based semantics for both nominal and adjectival confidence reports, as in "Ann is confident/has confidence that it's raining", and their comparatives "Ann is more confident/has more confidence that it's raining than that it's snowing". Other examples of adjectives that can report confidence include "sure" and "certain". Our account adapts Wellwood's account of adjectival comparatives in which the adjectives denote properties of states, and measure functions are introduced compositionally. We further explore the prospects of applying these (...) tools to the semantics of probability operators. We emphasize three desirable and novel features of our semantics: (i) probability claims only exploit qualitative resources unless there is explicit compositional pressure for quantitative resources; (ii) the semantics applies to both probabilistic adjectives (e.g., "likely") and probabilistic nouns (e.g., "probability"); (iii) the semantics can be combined with an account of belief reports that allows thinkers to have incoherent probabilistic beliefs (e.g. thinking that A & B is more likely than A) even while validating the relevant purely probabilistic claims (e.g. validating the claim that A & B is never more likely than A). Finally, we explore the interaction between confidence-reporting discourse (e.g., "I am confident that...") and belief-reports about probabilistic discourse (e.g.,"I think it's likely that.."). (shrink)
Propositions are the things we believe, intend, desire, and so on, but discussions are often less precise than they could be and an important driver of this deficiency has been a focus on the objects but a neglect of the attitudinal relations we bear to them. In what follows, we will offer some thoughts on what it means for a proposition to be the object of an attitude and we will argue that an important part of the story lies with (...) the attitude relations rather than the propositions. As we will see there are infinitely many relations we might bear to a proposition, but the propositional attitude relations are special amongst them. Accounting for what makes them special will be an important component in the discussion that follows. We will argue that once one appreciates certain facts about propositional attitude relations, various claims that metaphysicians often make regarding propositions themselves begin to look undermotivated. In fact, many views on the metaphysical nature of propositions come to look like plausible candidates for being that to which our propositional attitudes relate us. As will emerge, we will see that the principle role of propositions in the theory of mind is simply to keep track of how our attitudinal states represent things as being. But, we argue, in order to do this work, very few constraints must be placed on the nature of propositions themselves. In particular, contra much of the recent work on the metaphysics of propositions, they need not represent nor must they be structured. In light of these observations, we conclude by sketching our own favored minimalist view of propositions. (shrink)
To understand what non-propositional content is and whether there are any such contents, we first need to know what propositional content is. That issue will be the focus of the first section of this essay. In the second section, with an understanding of propositional content in hand, we will consider representations that fail to have propositional content. In contrast to recent literature, it will be argued that metaphysical considerations concerning what's represented, rather than linguistic considerations, are a more promising way (...) of establishing non-propositional contents. To keep the discussion containable, focus will be on representational mental states, though many of the considerations can be extended to other forms of representation. (shrink)
Book synopsis: Our mental lives are entwined with the world. There are worldly things that we have beliefs about and things in the world we desire to have happen. We find some things fearsome and others likable. The puzzle of intentionality — how it is that our minds make contact with the world — is one of the oldest and most vexed issues facing philosophers. Many contemporary philosophers and cognitive scientists have been attracted to the idea that our minds represent (...) the world. This book explores an important assumption about representation, namely, that when we represent things in the world, we represent them as having properties, and in this way our representations have "propositional" structure. The contributors examine what the commitment to propositionalism amounts to; illuminate why one might find the thesis attractive ; and consider ways in which one might depart from propositionalism. The hope is that this will lead towards a more complete understanding of how the mind and world are connected. (shrink)
I call 'empathetic attitude reports' attitude reports such as 'I believe you that you will come back' and 'I understand you that you are not in the mood'. I will argue that such attitude reports cannot be analysed in terms of two-place attitudinal relations but involve an essential interpersonal relation of trust or understanding.
I present a puzzle for the standard, propositional semantic account of belief reports by considering novel inferences which it incorrectly predicts to be invalid under assumptions that are plausible by its advocates’ own lights. In response, I propose a conservative departure from the standard view on which certain ‘that’-clauses designate novel devices of semantic type that I call open propositions. After outlining some desiderata for a theory of open propositions, I provide some reasons for advocates of the standard view to (...) treat them as properties of a certain kind. Then I give a bridge principle between the core notions of belief and belief-about before showing how the resulting view can be implemented in accordance with formal theories of syntax and semantics. I bring out some of the consequences this investigation has beyond our semantic theorizing and conclude, more generally, that any response to the puzzle requires paying some surprising cost or another. (shrink)
A semantic universal, which we here dub the Veridical Uniformity Universal, has recently been argued to hold of responsive verbs (those that take both declarative and interrogative complements). This paper offers a preliminary explanation of this universal: verbs satisfying it are easier to learn than those that do not. This claim is supported by a computational experiment using artificial neural networks, mirroring a recent proposal for explaining semantic universals of quantifiers. This preliminary study opens up many avenues for future work (...) on explaining semantic universals more generally, which are discussed in the conclusion. (shrink)
If Amelia utters ‘Brad ate a salad in 2005’ assertorically, and she is speaking literally and sincerely, then I can infer that Amelia believes that Brad ate a salad in 2005. This paper discusses what makes this kind of inference truth-preserving. According to the baseline picture, my inference is truth-preserving because, if Amelia is a competent speaker, she believes that the sentence she uttered means that Brad ate a salad in 2005; thus, if Amelia believes that that sentence is true, (...) then she must believe that Brad ate a salad in 2005. I argue that this view is not correct; on pain of irrationality, normal speakers can’t have specific beliefs about the meaning of the sentences they utter. I propose a new account, relying on the view that epistemically responsible speakers utter sentences assertorically only if they believe all the propositions which they think those sentences might mean. (shrink)
Prior’s puzzle is standardly taken to be the puzzle of why, given the assumption that that-clauses denote propositions, substitution of “the proposition that P” for “that P” within the complements of many propositional attitude verbs is invalid. I show that Prior’s puzzle is much more general than is ordinarily supposed. There are two variants on the substitutional form of the puzzle—a quantificational variant and a pronominal variant—and all three forms of the puzzle arise in a wide range of grammatical positions, (...) rather than merely in the complements of propositional attitude verbs. The generalized puzzle shows that a range of proposed solutions to the original puzzle fail, or are radically incomplete, and also reveals the connections between Prior’s puzzle and debates over the nature of semantic types and higher-order quantification. I go on to develop a novel, higher-order solution to the generalized form of the puzzle, and I argue that this higher-approach is superior to its first-order alternatives. (shrink)
The verb 'imagine' admits of perspectival modification: we can imagine things from above, from a distant point of view, or from the point of view of a Russian. But in such cases, there need be no person, either real or imagined, who is above or distant from what is imagined, or who has the point of view of a Russian. We call this the puzzle of perspectival displacement. This paper sets out the puzzle, shows how it does not just concern (...) language, but also states of imagining themselves, and then presents a solution. The solution draws on the idea that many reports of imagining conceal a distinctive kind of question, and such concealed questions have an extra argument place for (what we will call) an experiencer from whose perspective things are imagined. This solution has a range of advantages over other proposals in the literature, and helps to advance two debates concerning perspectival engagement with fiction. (shrink)
Holton has drawn attention to a new semantic universal, according to which no natural language has contrafactive attitude verbs. Because factives are universal across natural languages, Holton’s universal is part of a major asymmetry between factive and contrafactive attitude verbs. We previously proposed that this asymmetry arises partly because the meaning of contrafactives is significantly harder to learn than that of factives. Here we extend our work by describing an additional computational experiment that further supports our hypothesis.
The notion of belief appears frequently in cognitive science. Yet it has resisted definition of the sort that could clarify inquiry. How then might a cognitive science of belief proceed? Here we propose a form of pluralism about believing. According to this view, there are importantly different ways to "believe" an idea. These distinct psychological kinds occur within a multi-dimensional property space, with different property clusters within that space constituting distinct varieties of believing. We propose that discovering such property clusters (...) is empirically tractable, and that this approach can help sidestep merely verbal disputes about what constitutes “belief.”. (shrink)
It is natural to suppose the following three: factivity of knowledge, alda-know synonymy, and the univocity of alda. However, rago-knowledge attribution, expressed by “rago alda” sentences, seems to defeat to hold them at once. In this paper, I try to dissolve this predicament, analyzing “rago alda” sentence as a kind of hybrid language expression. And the theoretical advantages, which my analysis has over other possible, alternative approaches, are to be shown.
The problem of closure for the traditional unstructured possible worlds model of attitudinal content is that it treats belief and other cognitive states as closed under entailment, despite apparent counterexamples showing that this is not a necessary property of such states. One solution to this problem, which has been proposed recently by several authors (Schaffer 2005; Yalcin 2018; Hoek forthcoming), is to restrict closure in an unstructured setting by treating propositional attitudes as question-sensitive. Here I argue that this line of (...) response is unsatisfying as it stands because the problem of closure is more general than is typically discussed. A version of the problem recurs for attitudes like wondering, entertaining, considering, and so on, which are directed at questions rather than propositions. For such questioning attitudes, the appeal to question-sensitivity is much less convincing as a solution to the problem of closure. (shrink)
Richard Holton has drawn attention to a new semantic universal, according to which (almost) no natural language has contrafactive attitude verbs. This semantic universal is part of an asymmetry between factive and contrafactive attitude verbs. Whilst factives are abundant, contrafactives are scarce. We propose that this asymmetry is partly due to a difference in learnability. The meaning of contrafactives is significantly harder to learn than that of factives. We tested our hypothesis by conducting a computational experiment using an artificial neural (...) network. The results of this experiment support our hypothesis. (shrink)
An overview of hyperintensionality is provided. Hyperintensional languages have expressions with meanings that are more fine-grained than necessary equivalence. That is, the expressions may necessarily co-apply and yet be distinct in meaning. Adequately accounting for theories cast in hyperintensional languages is important in the philosophy of language; the philosophy of mind; metaphysics; and elsewhere. This entry presents a number of areas in which hyperintensionality is important; a range of approaches to theorising about hyperintensional matters; and a range of debates that (...) attention to hyperintensional constructions has generated. (shrink)
Akratic belief, or belief one believes one should not have, has often been thought to be impossible. I argue that the possibility of akratic belief should be accepted as a pre-theoretical datum. I distinguish intuitive, defensive, systematic, and diagnostic ways of arguing for this view, and offer an argument that combines them. After offering intuitive examples of akratic belief, I defend those examples against a common argument against the possibility of akratic belief, which I call the Nullification Argument. I then (...) offer an Argument from Belief Attribution, using a discussion of the marks by which we typically attribute belief to defend attributions of akratic belief. I conclude by offering a way to explain what is puzzling about akratic belief, while allowing that it is possible. (shrink)
The many-property problem has traditionally been taken to show that the adverbial theory of perception is untenable. This paper first shows that several widely accepted views concerning the nature of perception---including both representational and non-representational views---likewise face the many-property problem. It then presents a solution to the many-property problem for these views, but goes on to show how this solution can be adapted to provide a novel, fully compositional solution to the many-property problem for adverbialism. Thus, with respect to the (...) many-property problem, adverbialism and several widely accepted views in the philosophy of perception are on a par, and the problem is solved. (shrink)
Vendler’s :161–173, 1979) puzzle about imagination is that the sentences ‘Imagine swimming in that water’ and ‘Imagine yourself swimming in that water’ seem at once semantically different and semantically the same. They seem semantically different, since the first requires you to imagine ’from the inside’, while the second allows you to imagine ’from the outside.’ They seem semantically the same, since despite superficial dissimilarity, there is good reason to think that they are syntactically and lexically identical. This paper sets out (...) the puzzle and offers a novel solution. Our proposal is that, just as there is knowledge-wh, there is also imagining-wh and that the inside/outside distinction Vendler points to is properly understood as a distinction within imagining-wh. In particular, to imagine swimming from the inside is to imagine what it feels like to swim, while to imagine swimming from the outside is to imagine what it looks like to swim. We show that this proposal is well grounded in both the semantics and syntax of ‘imagine.’ We also argue it makes better sense than its rivals of the data Vendler found so puzzling. (shrink)
This paper disputes the widespread assumption that beliefs and desires may be attributed as theoretical entities in the service of the explanation and predic- tion of human behavior. The literature contains no clear account of how beliefs and desires might generate actions, and there is good reason to deny that principles of rationality generate a choice on the basis of an agent’s beliefs and desires. An alter- native conception of beliefs and desires is here introduced, according to which an attribution (...) of belief is, in a certain sense, an assertion on the believer’s behalf and an attribution of desire is, in a certain sense, a command on the desirer’s behalf. In terms of this conception of the attribution of beliefs and desires, we can begin to understand how attributions of beliefs and desires can be explanatory, although we still cannot expect the attribution of beliefs and desires to generate predictions based on an assumption of rationality. Finally, the reality of beliefs and desires is likened to the reality of money; it is the reality of things governed by objective norms. (shrink)
Consider the sentence “Lois knows that Superman flies, but she doesn’t know that Clark flies”. In this paper we defend a Millian contextualist semantics for propositional attitude ascriptions, according to which ordinary uses of this sentence are true but involve a mid-sentence shift in context. Absent any constraints on the relevant parameters of context sensitivity, such a semantics would be untenable: it would undermine the good standing of systematic theorizing about the propositional attitudes, trivializing many of the central questions of (...) epistemology, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of action. In response to this problem, we prove a series of tenability results. We show that, given certain constraints on the parameters of context sensitivity, there is a broad class of principles of propositional attitude psychology whose good standing follows from corresponding claims about people’s mental representations. But these constraints also have some surprising consequences: they are jointly incompatible with coarse-grained theories of propositions, and they are in tension with a natural picture of how speakers and hearers coordinate on the interpretation of attitude ascriptions. In light of these consequences we explore different ways in which the contextualist picture might be developed, and argue that our preferred way compares favorably with Fregeanism and neo-Russellianism. (shrink)
I observe that the “concept-generator” theory of Percus and Sauerland (2003), Anand (2006), and Charlow and Sharvit (2014) does not predict an intuitive true interpretation of the sentence “Plato did not believe that Hesperus was Phosphorus”. In response, I present a simple theory of attitude reports which employs a fine-grained semantics for names, according to which names which intuitively name the same thing may have distinct compositional semantic values. This simple theory solves the problem with the concept-generator theory, but, as (...) I go on to show, it has problems of its own. I present three examples which the concept-generator theory can accommodate, but the simple fine-grained theory cannot. These examples motivate the full theory of the paper, which combines the basic ideas behind the concept-generator theory with a fine-grained semantics for names. The examples themselves are of interest independently of my theory: two of them constrain the original concept-generator theory more tightly than previously discussed examples had. (shrink)
I generalize the notion of a conditional attitude by bringing together two topics of inquiry. One is the ordinary inquiry into conditional attitudes. The other topic is the inquiry into the attitude of thinking that a proposition is likely, or having a high credence in a proposition. For instance, what is it to intend to go to the game if it is likely that Kershaw pitches? Being likely that Kershaw pitches is the condition of the attitude. Given a natural position (...) about statements like “It is likely that Kershaw pitches,” the target attitude looks different from ordinary conditional attitudes. (shrink)
Belief fragments and mental files are based on the same idea: that information in people’s minds is compartmentalized rather than lumped all together. Philosophers mostly use the two notions differently, though the exact relationship between fragments and files has yet to be examined in detail. This chapter has three main goals. The first is to argue that fragments and files, properly understood, play distinct yet complementary explanatory roles; the second is to defend a model of belief that includes them both; (...) and the third is to raise and address a shared dilemma that confronts them: that they threaten to be either explanatorily lightweight or empirically refuted. This chapter contends that it is better to embrace the horn of this dilemma that opens up files and fragments to empirical refutation or confirmation, by adopting a psychofunctionalist approach. (shrink)
Imagine you are casually browsing an online bookstore, looking for an interesting novel. Suppose the store predicts you will want to buy a particular novel: the one most chosen by people of your same age, gender, location, and occupational status. The store recommends the book, it appeals to you, and so you choose it. Central to this scenario is an automated prediction of what you desire. This article raises moral concerns about such predictions. More generally, this article examines the ethics (...) of artificial social cognition—the ethical dimensions of attribution of mental states to humans by artificial systems. The focus is presumptuous aim attributions, which are defined here as aim attributions based crucially on the premise that the person in question will have aims like superficially similar people. Several everyday examples demonstrate that this sort of presumptuousness is already a familiar moral concern. The scope of this moral concern is extended by new technologies. In particular, recommender systems based on collaborative filtering are now commonly used to automatically recommend products and information to humans. Examination of these systems demonstrates that they naturally attribute aims presumptuously. This article presents two reservations about the widespread adoption of such systems. First, the severity of our antecedent moral concern about presumptuousness increases when aim attribution processes are automated and accelerated. Second, a foreseeable consequence of reliance on these systems is an unwarranted inducement of interpersonal conformity. (shrink)
I argue that uniquely human forms of ‘Theory of Mind’ are a product of cultural evolution. Specifically, propositional attitude psychology is a linguistically constructed folk model of the human mind, invented by our ancestors for a range of tasks and refined over successive generations of users. The construction of these folk models gave humans new tools for thinking and reasoning about mental states—and so imbued us with abilities not shared by non-linguistic species. I also argue that uniquely human forms of (...) ToM are not required for language development, such that an account of the cultural origins of ToM does not jeopardise the explanation of language development. Finally, I sketch a historical model of the cultural evolution of mental state talk. (shrink)
Following Russell, philosophers like Moltmann, Jubien, Boër, and Newman analyse ‘John believes that Mary is French’ as ‘R ’, instead of analysing it as ‘R ’. Thus, for these philosophers, instead of relations holding between agents and truth-bearing entities, propositional attitude verbs, like ‘belief’, express relations holding between agents and the properties and objects our thoughts and speech acts are about. This is also known as the Multiple Relation Theory. In this paper, I will discuss the Multiple Relation Theory primarily (...) in connection with a problem known as Schiffer’s puzzle. Schiffer first presented the puzzle to argue against the so called direct-reference theory of belief reports advocated, among others, by Salmon and Braun. I will argue that, unlike the direct-reference theory of belief reports, the Multiple Relation Theory does not provide a solution to Schiffer’s puzzle. In this connection, I will also discuss a slight modification of the Multiple Relation Theory according to which the ways the properties and objects our thoughts and speech acts are about are presented to us are part of the truth-conditions of sentences like ‘John believes that Mary is French’. We will see that prima facie such a contextualist version of the Multiple Relation Theory provides a solution to Schiffer’s puzzle. However, concluding, I will argue with new Schiffer cases that, ultimately, also a contextualist version of the Multiple Relation Theory cannot explain all instances of Schiffer’s puzzle. This will undermine the Multiple Relation Theory in general. (shrink)
Hartry Field has proposed a fundamental division of theories of linguistic and mental content into those that do, and those that don’t, give a central role to ‘that’-clause ascriptions. Here I investigate the commitments of theories that (in accord with Field’s position) deny ‘that’-clause ascriptions a central role, but (in contrast to Field’s position) give truth conditions a central role. Such non-oblique truth-conditionalism promises significant advantages. However, the stance is costlier than it may appear. Non-oblique truth-conditionalists, I argue, must renounce (...) a priori entitlement to schemas of disquotation that are presupposed when theories of content are put to metaphysical or epistemological use. As case studies, I discuss two theories that might seem to exemplify non-oblique truth-conditionalism: David Chalmers’s two-dimensionalist theory of content and Ruth Millikan’s teleosemantics. (shrink)
It is a consequence of both Kennedy and McNally’s typology of the scale structures of gradable adjectives and Kennedy’s :1–45, 2007) economy principle that an object is clean just in case its degree of cleanness is maximal. So they jointly predict that the sentence ‘Both towels are clean, but the red one is cleaner than the blue one’ :259–288, 2004) is a contradiction. Surely, one can account for the sentence’s assertability by saying that the first instance of ‘clean’ is used (...) loosely: since ‘clean’ pragmatically conveys the property of being close to maximally clean rather than the property of being maximally clean, the sentence as a whole conveys a consistent proposition. I challenge this semantics–pragmatics package by considering the sentence ‘Mary believes that both towels are clean but that the red one is cleaner than the blue one’. We can certainly use this sentence to attribute a coherent belief to Mary: One of its readings says that she believes that the towels are clean by a contextually salient standard ; the other says that she believes that the towels are clean by her own standard. I argue that Kennedy’s semantics–pragmatics package can’t deliver those readings, and propose that we drop the economy principle and account for those readings semantically by assigning to the belief sentence two distinct truth conditions. I consider two ways to deliver those truth-conditions. The first one posits world-variables in the sentence’s logical form and analyzes those truth-conditions as resulting from two binding possibilities of those variables. The second one proposes that the threshold function introduced by the phonologically null morpheme pos is shiftable in belief contexts. (shrink)
The view that dominates the literature on intentional attitudes holds that beliefs and desires both have propositional content. A commitment to what I call “content uniformity” underlies this view. According to content uniformity, beliefs and desires are but different psychological modes having a uniform kind of content. Prima facie, the modes don’t place any constraint on the kinds of content the attitude can have. I challenge this consensus by pointing out an asymmetry between belief contents and desire contents which shows (...) content uniformity to be mistaken. I do this by revisiting the arguments of Richard (Philosophical Studies, 39(1): 1–13, 1981), and show that arguments which purport to show the temporal specificity of belief contents yield the opposite results for desire contents. I defend this preliminary conclusion from various strategies to neutralize the asymmetry claim. My defense provides occasions to respond to objections by Brogaard (2012) and Recanati (2007) to the Richard argument, and to get clearer on the role of temporal adjuncts in desire ascriptions. Finally, I consider whether the construal of attitude content as centered propositions (as in Lewis Philosophical Review, 88(4): 513–543, 1979) can be invoked to vindicate content uniformity. My conclusion is that while the framework itself doesn’t vindicate content uniformity, it could, but only if it availed itself of a further, substantive thesis about desire, which itself is in need of defense. (shrink)
This paper presents a puzzle involving embedded attitude reports. We resolve the puzzle by arguing that attitude verbs take restricted readings: in some environments the denotation of attitude verbs can be restricted by a given proposition. For example, when these verbs are embedded in the consequent of a conditional, they can be restricted by the proposition expressed by the conditional’s antecedent. We formulate and motivate two conditions on the availability of verb restrictions: a constraint that ties the content of restrictions (...) to the “dynamic effects” of sentential connectives and a constraint that limits the availability of restriction effects to present tense verbs with first-person subjects. However, we also present some cases that make trouble for these conditions, and outline some possible ways of modifying the view to account for the recalcitrant data. We conclude with a brief discussion of some of the connections between our semantics for attitude verbs and issues concerning epistemic modals and theories of knowledge. (shrink)
There are two broad approaches to theorizing about ontological categories. Quineans use first-order quantifiers to generalize over entities of each category, whereas type theorists use quantification on variables of different semantic types to generalize over different categories. Does anything of import turn on the difference between these approaches? If so, are there good reasons to go type-theoretic? I argue for positive answers to both questions concerning the category of propositions. I also discuss two prominent arguments for a Quinean conception of (...) propositions, concerning their role in natural language semantics and apparent quantification over propositions within natural language. It will emerge that even if these arguments are sound, there need be no deep question about Quinean propositions’ true nature, contrary to much recent work on the metaphysics of propositions. (shrink)
In this paper, I raise a problem for standard precisifications of the Relational Analysis of attitude reports. The problem I raise involves counterfactual attitude verbs. such as ‘wish’. In short, the trouble is this: there are true attitude reports ‘ S wishes that P ’ but there is no suitable referent for the term ‘that P ’. The problematic reports illustrate that the content of a subject’s wish is intimately related to the content of their beliefs. I capture this fact (...) by moving to a framework in which ‘wish’ relates subjects to sets of pairs of worlds, or paired propositions, rather than—as is standardly assumed—sets of worlds. Although other types of counterfactual attitude reports, for example those involving ‘imagine’, may be similarly problematic, at this stage it is unclear whether they can be handled the same way. (shrink)
This volume addresses the intriguing issue of indirect reports from an interdisciplinary perspective. The contributors include philosophers, theoretical linguists, socio-pragmaticians, and cognitive scientists. The book is divided into four sections following the provenance of the authors. Combining the voices from leading and emerging authors in the field, it offers a detailed picture of indirect reports in the world’s languages and their significance for theoretical linguistics. Building on the previous book on indirect reports in this series, this volume adds an empirical (...) and cross-linguistic approach that covers an impressive range of languages, such as Cantonese, Japanese, Hebrew, Persian, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Armenian, Italian, English, Hungarian, German, Rumanian, and Basque. (shrink)
This book explores how our minds represent things in the world, asking whether these representations necessarily have the structure of propositions about the world. The hope is that this will lead towards a more complete understanding of the puzzle of intentionality -- how it is that our minds make contact with the world.
I explore some of the reasons why, under specific circumstances, it may be rational to make-believe or imagine certain religious beliefs. Adopting a jargon familiar to certain contemporary philosophers, my main concern here is to assess what reasons can be given for adopting a fictionalist stance towards some religious beliefs. My understanding of fictionalism does not involve solely a propositional attitude but a broader stance, which may include certain acts of pretence. I also argue that a plausible reason to be (...) fictionalist about a specific set of religious beliefs and practices has to do with the value of some artistic creations; namely, those that require the adoption of a religious point of view for their understanding. (shrink)
This paper is about conjunctions and disjunctions in the scope of non-doxastic atti- tude verbs. These constructions generate a certain type of ignorance implicature. I argue that the best way to account for these implicatures is by appealing to a notion of contex- tual redundancy (Schlenker, 2008; Fox, 2008; Mayr and Romoli, 2016). This pragmatic approach to ignorance implicatures is contrasted with a semantic account of disjunctions under `wonder' that appeals to exhausti cation (Roelofsen and Uegaki, 2016). I argue that (...) exhausti cation-based theories cannot handle embedded conjunctions, so a pragmatic account of ignorance implicatures is superior. (shrink)
We accomplish three things in this paper. First, we provide evidence that the motivational internalism/externalism debate in moral psychology could be a false dichotomy born of ambiguity. Second, we provide further evidence for a crucial distinction between two different categories of belief in folk psychology: thick belief and thin belief. Third, we demonstrate how careful attention to deep features of folk psychology can help diagnose and defuse seemingly intractable philosophical disagreement in metaethics.
The paper attempts to pose a problem for theories claiming that intentional attributions are essentially normative. Firstly, I argue that the claim is ambiguous. Secondly, that three possible interpretations of the claim can be distinguished: one that appeals to normative impositions put on agents of intentional states, another that exploits the fact that one can normatively assess the states in question and a further one that locates normativity in the domain of special intentional explanations. Thirdly, it is argued that each (...) interpretation faces serious difficulties: they either fail to provide a justification for the claim they intend to make or they contradict certain justified observations about intentional attributions. (shrink)
This dissertation lays the foundation for a new theory of non-relational intentionality. The thesis is divided into an introduction and three main chapters, each of which serves as an essential part of an overarching argument. The argument yields, as its conclusion, a new account of how language and thought can exhibit intentionality intrinsically, so that representation can occur in the absence of some thing that is represented. The overarching argument has two components: first, that intentionality can be profi tably studied (...) through examination of the semantics of intensional transitive verbs (ITVs), and second, that providing intensional transitive verbs with a nonrelational semantics will serve to provide us with (at least the beginnings of) a non-relational theory of intentionality. This approach is a generalization of Anscombe's views on perception. Anscombe held that perceptual verbs such as "see" and "perceive" were ITVs, and that understanding the semantics of their object positions could help us to solve the problems of hallucination and illusion, and provide a theory of perception more generally. I propose to apply this strategy to intentional states and the puzzles of intentionality more generally, and so Anscombe's influence will be felt all through the dissertation. -/- In the first chapter, titled "Semantic Verbs are Intensional Transitives", I argue that semantic verbs such as "refers to", "applies to", and "is true of" have all of the features of intensional transitive verbs, and discuss the consequences of this claim for semantic theory and the philosophy of language. One theoretically enriching consequence of this view is that it allows us to perspicuously express, and partially reconcile two opposing views on the nature and subject-matter of semantics: the Chomskian view, on which semantics is an internalistic enterprise concerning speakers' psychologies, and the Lewisian view, on which semantics is a fully externalistic enterprise issuing in theorems about how the world must look for our natural language sentences to be true. Intensional Transitive Verbs have two readings: a de dicto reading and a de re reading; the de dicto reading of ITVs is plausibly a nonrelational reading, and the intensional features peculiar to this reading make it suitable for expressing a Chomskian, internalist semantic program. On the other hand, the de re reading is fully relational, and make it suitable for expressing the kinds of word-world relations essential to the Lewisian conception of semantics. And since the de dicto and de re readings are plausibly related as two distinct scopal readings of the very same semantic postulates, we can see these two conceptions of semantics as related by two scopal readings of the very same semantic postulates. -/- In chapter two, titled "Hallucination and the New Problem of Empty Names", I argue that the problem of hallucination and the problem of empty names are, at bottom, the same problem. I argue for this by reconstructing the problem of empty names in way that is novel, but implicit in much of the discussion on empty names. I then show how, once recast in this light, the two problems are structurally identical down to an extremely fine level of granularity, and also substantially overlap in terms of their content. If the problems are identical in the way I propose, then we should expect that their spaces of solutions are also identical, and there is signi cant support for this conclusion. However, there are some proposed solutions to the problem of hallucination that have been overlooked as potential solutions to the problem of empty names, and this realization opens new non-relational approaches to the problem of empty names, and to the nature of meaning more generally. -/- In chapter three, titled "Intensionality is Additional Phrasal Unity", I argue for a novel approach to the semantics of intensional contexts. At the heart of my proposal is the Quinean view that intensional contexts should, from the perspective of the semantics, be treated as units, with the material in them contributing to the formation of a single predicate. However, this proposal is subject to a number of objections, including the criticism that taken at face value, this would render intensional contexts, which seem to be fully productive, non-compositional. I begin by discussing the concept of the unity of the phrase, and pointing to various ways that phrases can gain additional unity. I then proposes that the intensionality of intensional transitive verbs is best construed as a form of semantic incorporation; ITVs, on their intensional readings, meet all of the criteria for qualifying as incorporating the nominals in their object positions. I then give a semantics for ITVs that builds on existing views of the semantics of incorporation structures, and gesture at how this can be extended to intensional clausal verbs, including the so-called propositional attitude verbs. (shrink)
Frege begins his discussion of factives in ‘On Sense and Reference’ with an example of a purported contrafactive, that is, a verb that entails, or presupposes, the falsity of the complement sentence. But the verb he cites, ‘wähnen’, is now obsolete, and native speakers are sceptical about whether it really was a contrafactive. Despite the profusion of factive verbs, there are no clear examples of contrafactive propositional attitude verbs in English, French or German. This paper attempts to give an explanation (...) of this, and to use this to shed light on the behaviour of factives more generally. The suggestion is that factive propositional attitude verbs take facts, not propositions, as the referents of their complement sentences; and that as there are no contra-facts, there can be no contra-factives. This claim is also used to help explain Timothy Williamson's observation that there is no stative propositional attitude factive that requires only belief. Various conclusions are drawn within a broadly ‘knowledge first’ approach. (shrink)
We outline a novel theory of natural language meaning, Rich Situated Semantics [RSS], on which the content of sentential utterances is semantically rich and informationally situated. In virtue of its situatedness, an utterance’s rich situated content varies with the informational situation of the cognitive agent interpreting the utterance. In virtue of its richness, this content contains information beyond the utterance’s lexically encoded information. The agent-dependence of rich situated content solves a number of problems in semantics and the philosophy of language (...) (cf. [14, 20, 25]). In particular, since RSS varies the granularity of utterance contents with the interpreting agent’s informational situation, it solves the problem of finding suitably fine- or coarse-grained objects for the content of propositional attitudes. In virtue of this variation, a layman will reason with more propositions than an expert. (shrink)
This paper outlines a semantic account of attitude reports and deontic modals based on cognitive and illocutionary products, mental states, and modal products, as opposed to the notion of an abstract proposition or a cognitive act.
Ever since Frege, propositions have played a central role in philosophy of language. Propositions are generally conceived as abstract objects that have truth conditions essentially and fulfill both the role of the meaning of sentences and of the objects or content of propositional attitudes. More recently, the abstract conception of propositions has given rise to serious dissatisfaction among a number of philosophers, who have instead proposed a conception of propositional content based on cognitive acts (Hanks, Moltmann, Soames). This approach is (...) not entirely new, though, but has important precedents in early analytic philosophy and phenomenology. The aim of this volume is bring together some of the most important texts from the relevant historical literature and new contributions from contemporary proponents of act-based conceptions of propositional content. (shrink)
According to the Relational View of Propositional Attitude Reports (‘Relational View of Reports’, for short), attitude reports report thinkers as standing in cognitive relations to propositions. One difficult question for the view is: What is the nature of the cognitive relation(s) thinkers stand in to propositions in having propositional attitudes? One promise of The Measure Theory of Mind (sometimes, ‘The Measure Theory’ or ‘Measure Theory’ for short) is that it can avoid having to answer this question by allowing attitude reports (...) to be relational in form without taking the atti- tudes themselves to be relational, and a fortiori without taking propositional attitudes to involve any cognitive relation to propositions. This paper argues that if the propositional attitudes are conceived of in a robust way that emphasizes their normative and perspectival aspects, then this promise of The Measure Theory cannot be realized. If there is a viable Measure Theory for mind conceived of in these robust terms, it must incorporate, rather than dismiss, the notion of a cognitive relation to a proposition. (shrink)