Lajos L. Brons
Lakeland University
In “Real Patterns” Daniel Dennett developed an argument about the reality of beliefs on the basis of an analogy with patterns and noise. Here I develop Dennett’s analogy into an argument for descriptivism, the view that belief reports do no specify belief contents but merely describe what someone believes, and show that this view is also supported by empirical evidence. No description can do justice to the richness and specificity or “noisiness” of what someone believes, and the same belief can be described by different sentences or propositions (which is illustrated by Dennett’s analogy, some Gettier cases, and Frege’s puzzle), but in some contexts some of these competing descriptions are misleading or even false. Faithful (or truthful) description must be guided by a principle (or principles) related to the principle of charity: belief descriptions should not attribute irrationality to the believer or have other kinds of “deviant” implications.
Keywords belief reports  beliefs  Frege's puzzle  mental content  charity  propositional attitudes
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5007/1808-1711.2019v23n1p19
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Brainstorms.Daniel C. Dennett - 1978 - MIT Press.
Zettel.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1967 - Berkeley and Los Angeles: Blackwell.

View all 37 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Berg’s Answer to Frege’s Puzzle.Wayne Davis - 2017 - Philosophia 45 (1):19-34.
Spurning Charity.Paul Saka - 2007 - Axiomathes 17 (2):197-208.
Arguing for Frege's Fundamental Principle.Bryan Frances - 1998 - Mind and Language 13 (3):341–346.
Belief-That and Belief-In: Which Reductive Analysis?Uriah Kriegel - 2018 - In Alex Gzrankowski & Michelle Montague (eds.), Non-Propositional Intentionality. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 192-213.
Belief Content and Belief State.Alexei Cherniak - 2015 - Epistemology and Philosophy of Science 45 (3):98-117.
Speaking About Oneself.Isidora Stojanovic - 2015 - In Stephan Torre & Manuel Garcia-Carpintero (eds.), About Oneself: De Se Thought and Communication. Oxford University Press. pp. 200-219.
Do Belief Reports Report Beliefs?Kent Bach - 1997 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (3):215-241.
A Model of the Structure of Belief.Lydia Sanchez - 1998 - Dissertation, Stanford University
Intuitive and Reflective Beliefs.Dan Sperber - 1997 - Mind and Language 12 (1):67-83.
Donnellan on a Puzzle About Belief.Graeme Forbes - 1994 - Philosophical Studies 73 (2-3):169 - 180.


Added to PP index

Total views
216 ( #53,745 of 2,520,893 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
26 ( #33,873 of 2,520,893 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes