Belief, knowledge, and the origins of content

Dialectica 48 (3-4):287-305 (1994)

Samuel Guttenplan
Birkbeck College
Virtually all discussions of the propositional attitudes center around belief. I suggest that, when one takes a broad look at the kinds of constraint which affect our attributions of attitude, this is a mistake. Not only is belief not properly representative of the propositional attitudes generally, but, more seriously, taking it to be representative can be positively distorting. In this paper I offer reasons why we should give knowledge a more central role in discussions of the propositional attitudes and suggest that its almost complete neglect in current philosophy of mind is unjustified. In essence, I argue that we should consider knowledge to be the central attitude and think of belief as a later and special development of the attitude scheme. In place of the usual explanation of knowledge as belief plus something, we should think of belief as knowledge minus something. The final sections choose Kripke's puzzle about belief as an example of where the conventional wisdom leads us astray
Keywords Belief  Content  Epistemology  Knowledge  Language
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DOI 10.1111/j.1746-8361.1994.tb00151.x
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