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Abstract: This article aims to vindicate the commonsensical view that what we think affects what we do. In order to show that mental properties like believing, desiring and intending are causally explanatory, I propose a nonreductive, materialistic account that identifies beliefs and desires by their content, and that shows how differences in the contents of beliefs and desires can make causal differences in what we do
Abstract: Recent work in philosophy of language has raised significant problems for the traditional theory of propositions, engendering serious skepticism about its general workability. These problems are, I believe, tied to fundamental misconceptions about how the theory should be developed. The goal of this paper is to show how to develop the traditional theory in a way which solves the problems and puts this skepticism to rest. The problems fall into two groups. The first has to do with reductionism, specifically attempts to reduce propositions to extensional entities-either extensional functions or sets. The second group concerns problems of fine grained content-both traditional 'Cicero'/'Tully' puzzles and recent variations on them which confront scientific essentialism. After characterizing the problems, I outline a non-reductionist approach-the algebraic approach-which avoids the problems associated with reductionism. I then go on to show how the theory can incorporate non-Platonic (as well as Platonic) modes of presentation. When these are implemented nondescriptively, they yield the sort of fine-grained distinctions which have been eluding us. The paper closes by applying the theory to a cluster of remaining puzzles, including a pair of new puzzles facing scientific essentialism
Abstract: Suppose we admit for the sake of argument that "folk" explanations of human behavior--explanations in terms of beliefs and desires--sometimes succeed. They sometimes enable us to understand and predict patterns of motion that otherwise would remain unintelligible and unanticipated. Is the only explanation for such success that folk psychology is a viable proto-scientific theory of human psychology? I shall describe an analysis which yields a negative answer to that question. It was suggested by an observation and an analogy, both of which may initially seem remote from the topic at hand
Abstract: The relation between two systems of attitude ascription that capture all the empirically significant aspects of an agents thought and speech may be analogous to that between two systems of magnitude ascription that are equivalent relative to a transformation of scale. If so, just as an objects weighing eight pounds doesnt relate that object to the number eight (for a different but equally good scale would use a different number), similarly an agents believing that P need not relate her to P (for a different but equally adequate interpretive scheme could use a different proposition). In either case the only reality picked out by any system of ascription is what is common to all equivalent rivals. By emphasizing some contrasts between decision theory and belief-desire psychology, it is argued that if attitude ascription is appropriately analogous to measurement then not only is being related to a proposition an artifact of the system of representation chosen, so are belief and desire
Abstract: I hope to show that, although belief is subject to two quite robust forms of agency, "believing at will" is impossible; one cannot believe in the way one ordinarily acts. Further, the same is true of intention: although intention is subject to two quite robust forms of agency, the features of belief that render believing less than voluntary are present for intention, as well. It turns out, perhaps surprisingly, that you can no more intend at will than believe at will
Abstract: 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
Abstract: Verbs such as know, believe, hope, fear, regret and desire are commonly taken to express an attitude that one may bear towards a proposition and are therefore called verbs of propositional attitude. Thus in (1) below the agent Cathy is reported to have a certain attitude
Abstract: It is generally assumed that if it is possible to believe that p without believing that q, then there is some difference between the object of the thought that p and the object of the thought that q. This assumption is challenged in the present paper, opening the way to an account of epistemic opacity that improves on existing accounts, not least because it casts doubt on various arguments that attempt to derive startling ontological conclusions from seemingly innocent epistemic premises