Hopes, Fears, and Other Grammatical Scarecrows

Philosophical Review 128 (1):63-105 (2019)
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Abstract

The standard view of "believes" and other propositional attitude verbs is that such verbs express relations between agents and propositions. A sentence of the form “S believes that p” is true just in case S stands in the belief-relation to the proposition that p; this proposition is the referent of the complement clause "that p." On this view, we would expect the clausal complements of propositional attitude verbs to be freely intersubstitutable with their corresponding proposition descriptions—e.g., "the proposition that p"—as they are in the case of "believes." In many cases, however, intersubstitution of that-clauses and proposition descriptions fails to preserve truth value or even grammaticality. These substitution failures lead some philosophers to reject the standard view of propositional attitude reports. Others conclude that propositional attitude verbs are systematically ambiguous. I reject both these views. On my view, the that-clause complements of propositional attitude verbs denote propositions, but proposition descriptions do not.

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Jake Nebel
Princeton University

Citations of this work

Higher‐order metaphysics.Lukas Skiba - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (10):1-11.
The Attitudes We Can Have.Daniel Drucker - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (4):591-642.
Propositions.Matthew McGrath - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Prior's puzzle generalized.Justin D'Ambrosio - 2023 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 106 (1):196-220.

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References found in this work

Semantics in generative grammar.Irene Heim & Angelika Kratzer - 1998 - Malden, MA: Blackwell. Edited by Angelika Kratzer.
The nature and structure of content.Jeffrey C. King - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The things we mean.Stephen R. Schiffer - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Conceptions of truth.Wolfgang Künne - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Objects of thought.Arthur Norman Prior - 1971 - Oxford,: Clarendon Press. Edited by P. T. Geach & Anthony Kenny.

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