propositional attitudes n.
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Propositional Attitudes. Facts and states of affairs. Common Three-Way Equivalence:. Sentence meanings The objects of the attitudes The referents of ‘that’-clauses. Propositional Attitudes. Agent + Attitude + Content Attitudes = belief, knowledge, desire, hope, etc.

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Propositional Attitudes

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common three way equivalence
Common Three-Way Equivalence:

Sentence meanings

The objects of the attitudes

The referents of ‘that’-clauses

propositional attitudes1
Propositional Attitudes

Agent + Attitude + Content

Attitudes = belief, knowledge, desire, hope, etc.

The functionalist consensus

What are the objects of the attitudes (contents)?

propositional attitude ascriptions
Propositional Attitude Ascriptions

Subject + Attitude Verb + ‘that’-Clause

Attitude Verbs = “believe,” “know,” “desire,” “hope,” etc.

Attitudes distinct from their ascriptions

Contents of ‘that’-clauses objects of attitudes?

evidence for equivalence
Evidence for Equivalence


“Today is Tuesday but John doesn’t know it.”

Conjunction Reduction:

“It’s true that it’s raining and John believes that it’s raining.”

“It’s true that, and John knows that, it’s raining.”

correspondence theory
Correspondence Theory

Truth as ‘correspondence with the facts.’

Sentences/ statements are true/ false

No semantically evaluable semantic entities


Sentences mean facts?


Objects, properties, and relations

“Going together in the world”


The Unity of the Fact (problem thereof)

plato s third man
Plato’s Third Man

a is F

a instantiates F-ness

<a, F-ness> instantiate instantiation

<<a, F-ness>, instantiation> instantiate instantiation



“We note that when a detective says ‘Let's look at the facts’ he does not crawl round the carpet, but proceeds to utter a string of statements.” (Austin, “Truth”)

the multiple relations theory
The Multiple Relations Theory

No such thing as false facts.

What do we believe when we believe something false?

Belief is a relation to “semantically unjoined” objects, properties, and relations.

Problem of unity: order.

states of affairs
States of Affairs

Like facts, but don’t need to actually exist, only possibly exist.

problems for sofa
Problems for SofA

Problems for SofA = Meanings

No impossible states of affairs

(“going together” again)

Problems for SofA = Objects of Attitudes

Coarse-grainedness of SofA

Problems for SofA = Referents of ‘That’-Clauses


truth evaluable

Sentences are true vs. sentence meanings are true

What I believe is true vs. my belief is true

(You can believe what I believe, but you can’t have my belief)

“John believes something true” vs. “John’s belief is true.”


Maintain equivalence

Propositions fine-grained, truth-evaluable– more language-like

Still mind-independent

A new type of “going together”

mind independence

a proposition (“gedanke”) “is like a planet which, already before anyone has seen it, has been in interaction with other planets.”

“when one apprehends or thinks a [proposition] one does not create it but only comes to stand in a certain relation… to what already existed beforehand.”

ordinary language scruples
Ordinary Language Scruples

“I imagined [F: the proposition] that a purple donkey was nibbling on lettuce.”

“I was surprised [*the proposition/ F: at the proposition] that John never came to the party.”

possible worlds semantics
Possible Worlds Semantics

Possible worlds: Lewis and Stalnaker

Possible worlds semantics: Carnap and Montague

Analysis of necessity and possibility

Meanings as “truth-conditions”

Functions from worlds to truth-values

Sets and characteristic functions


The deduction problem

The “aboutness” problem

Directly referential expressions collapsed into rigid expressions


Even less coarse-grained than SofA: all necessities equivalent, all impossibilities equivalent.

Going diagonal (or metalinguistic)

Still get all provable truths equivalent, for those who accept the axioms.

lewis s two gods
Lewis’s Two Gods

“Consider the case of the two gods. They inhabit a certain possible world, and they know exactly which world it is. Therefore they know every proposition that is true at their world. Insofar as knowledge is a propositional attitude, they are omniscient…”

lewis s two gods1
Lewis’s Two Gods

“…Still I can imagine them to suffer ignorance: neither one knows which of the two he is. They are not exactly alike. One lives on top of the tallest mountain and throws down manna; the other lives on top of the coldest mountain and throws down thunderbolts. Neither one knows whether he lives on the tallest mountain or the coldest mountain; nor whether he throws manna or thunderbolts.”

de se exceptionalism
De SeExceptionalism
  • The manna god knows exactly which world she inhabits.
  • She does not know that *I am the manna god.*
  • Therefore, *I am the manna god* is not solely about which world she inhabits.
  • Therefore, the de se is special and subject to special semantic treatment.
structured propositions1
Structured Propositions

Like SofAs: objects, properties, relations

Structural isomorphism w/ sentences

New kind of “going together”

Limits: articulated non-constituents

“John is a tall ballet dancer”

Limits: unarticulated constituents


Systematicity: if you can think aRb, you can think bRa

Reverse compositionality

Conflating contexts: ‘watch’ + PAST vs. ‘watch’ + PROG + PAST


SPs strictly more fine grained than SofAs

SPs determine sets of possible worlds, not vice versa (composition post-linguistic)

No logical omniscience, deduction, aboutness problems

Too much grain? A & B vs. B & A

Names and natural kind terms, a = b vs. a = a


Which set-theoretic objects? (order arbitrariness)

Why do some set-theoretic objects have truth-conditions and others (regular ones) not?

Is the “going together” really not set-theoretic? If not, then what is it?

overly linguistic y
Overly Linguistic-y?

If propositions have a largely linguistic structure… do they get it from language?

If so, are they really mind/ language dependent?

If so, did the proposition that dinosaurs exist not exist until we did?

And can animals think?

interpreted logical forms1
Interpreted Logical Forms

Linguistic syntax

LFs vs. surface structure (not particularly important)

Interpreted LFs

No new “going together”


Strictly greater grain the SPs

(Hence same or worse grainedness problems, same or better benefits)

Names and natural kind terms, a = b vs. a = a

Meaningful sentences with empty names?

Sensible why they have truth-conditions



Speakers of different languages no longer expressing the same proposition, believing the same things

Data: “I believed that even when I was a monolingual French speaker!”

Attitudes, propositions dependent on language

Pierre and “Londresestjolie”