The many uses of 'belief' in AI

Minds and Machines 1 (1):55-74 (1991)
  Within AI and the cognitively related disciplines, there exist a multiplicity of uses of belief. On the face of it, these differing uses reflect differing views about the nature of an objective phenomenon called belief. In this paper I distinguish six distinct ways in which belief is used in AI. I shall argue that not all these uses reflect a difference of opinion about an objective feature of reality. Rather, in some cases, the differing uses reflect differing concerns with special AI applications. In other cases, however, genuine differences exist about the nature of what we pre-theoretically call belief. To an extent the multiplicity of opinions about, and uses of belief, echoes the discrepant motivations of AI researchers. The relevance of this discussion for cognitive scientists and philosophers arises from the fact that (a) many regard theoretical research within AI as a branch of cognitive science, and (b) even if theoretical AI is not cognitive science, trends within AI influence theories developed within cognitive science. It should be beneficial, therefore, to unravel the distinct uses and motivations surrounding belief, in order to discover which usages merely reflect differing pragmatic concerns, and which usages genuinely reflect divergent views about reality
Keywords Belief  syntax  propositions  meaning  information  tractability  degrees of confidence  dispositions
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