Studies in belief and belief attribution
Author(s)Hernando, Miguel (Miguel Angel Hernando Cupido), 1970-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy.
MetadataShow full item record
My dissertation is about Frege's classic problem of the morning and the evening star. I distinguish two aspects of the problem. One aspect I call it psychological, and it consists in describing the content of the beliefs of people who are willing to assent to pairs like (1) 'Hesperus is nice' and (2) 'Phosphorus is not nice.' I assume an interpretivist account of belief content, according to which an agent has the beliefs that best explain her behavior, and I propose certain principles of interpretation to substantiate this view. I use this account to argue that the person who assents to (1) and (2) is not incoherent, but simply mistaken about the proposition expressed by those sentences. In my view, the subject who assents to (1) and (2) takes them to express propositions about different planets, but at least one of those planets cannot be a real planet. I propose that it is a fictional one, and appeal to Kendall Walton's account of prop-oriented make-believe to explain how to use propositions that are about fictional entities to describe the belief state of people who are confused about some identity. The other aspect of the problem I call it semantical, and it consists in explaining how pairs of attributions like 'Charles believes that Hesperus is nice' and 'Charles does not believe that Phosphorus is nice' can be true at the same time. I offer a semantics based on the idea that, when we describe the belief state of people who are confused about some identity, we have to put ourselves in their shoes. We put ourselves in someone else's shoes by modifying our belief state to resemble the belief state of the other person; when we change our beliefs in this way, we acquire the beliefs necessary to talk of a single object as if it were two different ones. I argue that this Simulation Semantics can offer a satisfactory treatment of certain examples of belief attribution that cannot be handled by contemporary theories (examples in which the subject of the attribution is both confused about an identity, and is not familiar with the words that we use to attribute a belief to her). I also argue that this semantics has interesting applications to other problems in the philosophy of language, like for example the problem of the informativeness of identity statements. 7102 M
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, 2001.Includes bibliographical references (p. 207-209).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linguistics and Philosophy.