Truth, rationality, and humanity

When we interpret someone in terms of their beliefs and desires, we are doing something other than merely describing them, but it is far from clear what this something else is. As Dennett puts it, while there is a growing consensus about the "not-purely-descriptive nature of intentional attribution," there remains considerable disagreement over which norms govern the play of this "dramatic interpretation game." This paper will discuss three candidates for specifying the content of these norms, truth, rationality and humanity. It will argue that while truth has frequently been taken to be the least plausible candidate, once the regulative rather than constitutive status of these norms are recognized, it turns out to be the best one. It will then close with a discussion of the 'indirect' role that rationality constraints can still be seen to play in a theory of belief.
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