Bringing Belief Down to Earth: Part II

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 II

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Building on the negative results of the previous chapter, the author sets out a positive account of the semantics of sentences that ascribe belief. Desiderata of such an account are said to be Davidsonian semantic innocence (linguistic expressions embedded in the belief-ascribing sentence should function as they normally do), an accord with the truth values provided by ordinary intuitive judgments, and context sensitivity. It is suggested that the views of Quine on direct and indirect discourse provide the key to providing such an account; his theories are extended to provide a semantic account of belief that makes no use of Fregean senses or modes of presentation. It is claimed that the account accommodates the data in a natural way and that the dissolution of the puzzle about substitutivity emerges legitimately from the theory. The implication of the semantic account of belief reports and the author’s overall outlook for the phenomenon of believing are discussed.

Keywords: belief; context sensitivity; Davidson; indirect discourse; Quine; semantic innocence

Chapter.  10278 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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