Content and Theme in Attitude Ascriptions

In Alex Grzankowski and Michelle Montague & Alex and Michelle Montague Grzankowski (eds.), Non-propositional Intentionality. Oxford: OUP. pp. 114-133 (2018)


This paper is about a substitution-failure in attitude ascriptions, but not the one you think. A standard view about the semantic shape of ‘that’-clause attitude ascriptions is that they are fundamentally relational. The attitude verb expresses a binary relation whose extension, if not empty, is a collection of pairs each of which consists in an individual and a proposition, while the ‘that’-clause is a term for a proposition. One interesting problem this view faces is that, within the scope of many attitude verbs, ‘that’-clauses are not interchange able with certain other terms which stand for the same propositions as the clauses are supposed to. For example, (1a) below may be true, but (1c) is probably not: (1) a. Holmes {fears/suspects} that Moriarty has returned. b. That Moriarty has returned is the proposition that Moriarty has re turned. c. Holmes {fears/suspects} the proposition that Moriarty has returned. For only the exceptionally timorous fear propositions, and, excluding contexts in which we speak of a ‘suspect premise’, only the unusually paranoid suspect them. The truth-conditional change eVected by substituting propositional descrip tion for ‘that’- clause illustrated in (1) occurs with a wide range of attitude verbs. If you understand that the window of opportunity is closing, perhaps you should act before it is too late, but if you mere-.

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