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fred dretske

Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


There are various ways of classifying mental activities and states. One useful distinction is that between the propositional attitudes and everything else. A propositional attitude is one whose description takes a sentence as complement of the verb. Belief is a propositional attitude: one believes (truly or falsely as the case may be) that there are cookies in the jar. That there are cookies in the jar is the proposition expressed by the sentence following the verb. Knowing, judging, inferring, concluding and doubting are also propositional attitudes: one knows, judges, infers, concludes or doubts that a certain proposition (the one expressed by the sentential complement) is true. Though the propositions are not always explicit, hope, fear, expectation, intention and a great many other terms are also (usually) taken to describe propositional attitudes: one hopes that (is afraid that, etc.) there are cookies in the jar. Wanting a cookie is, or can be construed as, a propositional attitude: wanting that one have (or eat or whatever) a cookie. Intending to eat a cookie is intending that one will eat a cookie. Propositional attitudes involve the possession and use of concepts and are, in this sense, representational. One must have some knowledge or understanding of what Xs are in order to think, believe or hope that something is X. In order to want a cookie, intend to eat ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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