Singular beliefs and their ascriptions

In Reference and the Rational Mind. CSLI Publications (2003)
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This essay defends three interlocking claims about singular beliefs and their ascriptions. The first is a claim about the nature of such beliefs; the second is a claim about the semantic contents of ascriptions of such beliefs; the third is a claim about the pragmatic significance of such ascriptions. With respect to the nature of singular belief, I claim that the contents of our singular beliefs are a joint product of mind and world, with neither mind nor world enjoying any peculiar priority over the other in the constitution of content. This view amounts to a rejection of the priority of so-called narrow or notional content over wide or referential content for singular beliefs. About the semantics of ascriptions of singular belief, I claim that such ascriptions ascribe what I call predicative doxastic commitments and nothing more. In particular, I will argue that to ascribe a predicative commitment is merely to say what property is being predicated by she who undertakes the relevant commitment to what object. My view has the consequence that ascriptions of singular beliefs typically do not either semantically specify or pragmatically implicate the modes of presentations, notions, or conceptions via which the ascribee cognizes the objects and properties relative to which she undertakes predicative commitments. To be sure, many maintain that at least one class of belief ascriptions -- so called de dicto ascriptions



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Kenneth Taylor
PhD: University of Chicago; Last affiliation: Stanford University

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