Belief about the self: A defense of the property theory of content * by Neil Feit

Analysis 69 (3):570-572 (2009)
In this short, clear and engaging book, Neil Feit defends the unorthodox view that the contents of beliefs and other cognitive attitudes are properties, and not, as is usually held, propositions. The core of his argument has to do with de se beliefs, beliefs about the self. Based on examples and arguments due to Perry , Lewis and Chisholm , along with considerations about internalism and physicalism, Feit offers a battery of arguments for the conclusion that the contents of de se beliefs cannot be propositions and therefore must be properties. For reasons of uniformity and simplicity Feit then extends this conclusion to all beliefs. So, according to Feit, the content of the de se belief that I am a philosopher is the property of being a philosopher, and my having this belief consists in my self-ascribing this property. For de dicto beliefs, believing that p is self-ascribing the property of being such that p, and for de re beliefs, believing that x is F is self-ascribing the property of bearing some relation of acquaintance R to something that is F. For example, to have the de dicto belief that …
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DOI 10.1093/analys/anp057
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