Bringing Belief Down to Earth: Part I

Howard Wettstein

in The Magic Prism

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780195160529
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835072 | DOI:
 Bringing Belief Down to Earth: Part I

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The subject of this chapter is belief and other propositional attitudes, which the approach of Frege and Russell has been thought to handle well. Frege can seemingly make good sense of the fact that the substitution of one proper name by another with which it co-refers in a belief-report can turn a true report into a false one, something that is highly problematic for the direct reference theorist. It is argued that Frege’s account faces two difficulties: substitution of co-referring terms often is truth-preserving; and his account makes it mysterious how we ordinarily correctly report the sayings and beliefs of another. Counterexamples from ordinary linguistic practice are adduced in support of the notion that a core Fregean idea, the relational conception of belief sentences, is mistaken. Two strategies for incorporating context sensitivity into the Fregean picture – a pragmatic theory and an approach that semanticizes collateral information – are discussed and it is argued that both face difficulties.

Keywords: belief; co-reference; Frege; propositional attitudes; relational conception of belief; substitution

Chapter.  12553 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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