Henry Jackman
York University
A belief ascription such as “Oedipus believes that his mother is the queen of Thebes” can be understood in two ways, one in which it seems true, and another in which it seems false. It can seem true because the woman who was, in fact, Oedipus’ mother was believed by him to be the queen of Thebes. It can seem false because Oedipus himself would have sincerely denied that Jocasta could be correctly characterized as “Oedipus’s mother.” Belief ascriptions thus seem to admit of two interpretations, and this has suggested to many that belief predicates such as “________ believes that his mother is the queen of Thebes” are ambiguous between a de dicto and a de re reading.1 However, the impression of ambiguity is a function of the narrow ranges of examples that philosophers focus on. When we consider our ascriptional practices as a whole, the suggestion that belief predicates are ambiguous is neither plausible nor needed to explain the de dicto/de re distinction. The following will argue that understanding paradigmatic de dicto and de re ascriptions in terms of disavowals from a more basic sort of ascription is preferable to positing a simple ambiguity in which each of the two sorts of ascription are conceptually primitive.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,291
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

Quantifying In.David Kaplan - 1968 - Synthese 19 (1-2):178-214.
Belief D E Re.Tyler Burge - 1977 - Journal of Philosophy 74 (6):338-362.
Intentionality.Nancy J. Holland - 1986 - Noûs 20 (1):103-108.
Studies in the Way of Words.Robert J. Fogelin - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):213-219.
Beyond Belief.Daniel C. Dennett - 1983 - In Andrew Woodfield (ed.), Thought and Object. Oxford University Press.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Which Immunity to Error?Joel Smith - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 130 (2):273-83.
A Simple Solution to the Problem of De Se Belief Ascriptions.Ari Maunu - 2000 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 33 (3-4):199-226.
Stich againstde dicto‐de reambiguity.Dale Jacquette - 1989 - Philosophical Psychology 2 (2):223-230.


Added to PP index

Total views
56 ( #192,421 of 2,456,035 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #303,388 of 2,456,035 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes