Attitudes without psychology

Facta Philosophica 5 (2):239-56 (2003)
Many philosophers hold that beliefs and desires are theoretical entities postulated for the sake of predicting and explaining people's behaviors. This paper offers a very different perspective on the nature of beliefs and desires. According to this, the first step is to understand the nature of assertion and command. Then, to understand the nature of belief and desire, what one must do is extend one's understanding of assertion and commandto assertions and commands on behalf of others; for to attribute a belief is to make an assertion on someone's behalf, and to attribute a desire is to make a command on someone's behalf. From this perspective we can recognize that explanation and prediction are not the primary rationale for attributions of beliefs and desires. A number of foundational issues will also be addressed, having to do with cognition, semantics and ontology.
Keywords Belief  Desire  Epistemology  Explanation  Folk Psychology  Postulation  Prediction
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