Comments on Erin Eaker's

Eaker argues that there is no genuine ambiguity to be found between de re and de dicto readings or interpretations of belief sentences. She considers two ways characterizing the distinction: 1. Psychological characterization (a) De re belief sentences attribute de re belief to subjects (b) De dicto belief sentences attribute de dicto belief to subjects 2. Truth-conditional characterization (a) The preservation of subjects’ “ways of thinking” of objects is not required for the truth of de re belief sentences (b) The preservation of subjects’ “ways of thinking” of objects is required for the truth of de dicto belief sentences And she suggests either way, the distinction is usually taken to be encoded in linguistic theory by means of the notion of scope: 3. Scope encoding (a) In de re belief sentences, expressions referring to objects of belief have wide scope (b) In de dicto belief sentences, expressions referring to objects of belief have narrow scope Eaker criticizes both characterizations of the ambiguity, as well as the claim that it can be understood as a scope ambiguity. First, Eaker’s presents the following argument against the psychological characterization: (i) even if the distinction between de re and de dicto belief can be drawn, this distinction does not map on to the putative distinction between de re and de dicto belief sentences: de re belief sentences can be used to report de dicto beliefs, e.g.
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Erin L. Eaker (2009). A New Starting Place for the Semantics of Belief Sentences. In Joseph Almog & Paolo Leonardi (eds.), The Philosophy of David Kaplan. Oxford University Press 208--232.
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