propositional attitude
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A propositional attitude is a mental state held by an agent toward a
proposition In logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence (linguistics), sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood to be a non-linguistic entity which is shared by all sentences with the same me ...
. Linguistically, propositional attitudes are denoted by a
verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax generally conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). In the usual descrip ...
(e.g. "believed") governing an embedded "that" clause, for example, 'Sally believed that she had won'. Propositional attitudes are often assumed to be the fundamental units of thought and their contents, being propositions, are true or false from the perspective of the person. An agent can have different propositional attitudes toward the same proposition (e.g., "S believes that her ice-cream is cold," and "S fears that her ice-cream is cold"). Propositional attitudes have directions of fit: some are meant to reflect the world, others to influence it. One topic of central concern is the relation between the modalities of assertion and belief, perhaps with intention thrown in for good measure. For example, we frequently find ourselves faced with the question of whether or not a person's assertions conform to his or her beliefs. Discrepancies here can occur for many reasons, but when the departure of assertion from belief is intentional, we usually call that a ''
lie A lie is an assertion that is believed to be false, typically used with the purpose of deception, deceiving or Deception, misleading someone. The practice of communicating lies is called lying. A person who communicates a lie may be termed a l ...
''. Other comparisons of multiple modalities that frequently arise are the relationships between belief and knowledge and the discrepancies that occur among observations, expectations, and intentions. Deviations of observations from expectations are commonly perceived as '' surprises'', phenomena that call for ''
explanation An explanation is a set of Statement (logic), statements usually constructed to description, describe a set of facts which clarifies the causality, causes, wiktionary:context, context, and Logical consequence, consequences of those facts. It may ...
s'' to reduce the shock of amazement.


Issues

In
logic Logic is the study of correct reasoning. It includes both Mathematical logic, formal and informal logic. Formal logic is the science of Validity (logic), deductively valid inferences or of logical truths. It is a formal science investigating h ...
, the formal properties of verbs like ''assert'', ''believe'', ''command'', ''consider'', ''deny'', ''doubt'', ''imagine'', ''judge'', ''know'', ''want'', ''wish'', and a host of others that involve attitudes or intentions toward propositions are notorious for their recalcitrance to analysis. (Quine 1956).


Indiscernibility of identicals

One of the fundamental principles governing identity is that of ''substitutivity'', also known as fungibility — or, as it might well be called, that of '' indiscernibility of identicals''. It provides that, ''given a true statement of identity, one of its two terms may be substituted for the other in any true statement and the result will be true''. It is easy to find cases contrary to this principle. For example, the statements: :(1) Giorgione = Barbarelli, :(2) Giorgione was so called because of his size. are true; however, replacement of the name 'Giorgione' by the name 'Barbarelli' turns (2) into the falsehood: :(3) Barbarelli was so called because of his size. W. V. O. Quine, ''Quintessence, extensions, Reference and Modality'', p. 361
Quine's example here refers to Giorgio Barbarelli's
sobriquet A sobriquet ( ), or soubriquet, is a nickname, sometimes assumed, but often given by another, that is descriptive. A sobriquet is distinct from a pseudonym, as it is typically a familiar name used in place of a real name, without the need of expla ...
"Giorgione", an Italian name roughly glossed as "Big George." The basis of the paradox here is that while the two names signify the same individual (the meaning of the first statement), the names are not themselves identical; the second statement refers to an attribute (origin) that they do not share.See "
Who's on First? "Who's on First?" is a sketch comedy, comedy routine made famous by American Double act, comedy duo Abbott and Costello. The premise of the sketch is that Bud Abbott, Abbott is identifying the players on a baseball team for Lou Costello, Costel ...
."


Overview

What sort of name shall we give to verbs like 'believe' and 'wish' and so forth? I should be inclined to call them 'propositional verbs'. This is merely a suggested name for convenience, because they are verbs which have the ''form'' of relating an object to a proposition. As I have been explaining, that is not what they really do, but it is convenient to call them propositional verbs. Of course you might call them 'attitudes', but I should not like that because it is a psychological term, and although all the instances in our experience are psychological, there is no reason to suppose that all the verbs I am talking of are psychological. There is never any reason to suppose that sort of thing. (Russell 1918, 227).
What a proposition is, is one thing. How we feel about it, or how we regard it, is another. We can accept it, assert it, believe it, command it, contest it, declare it, deny it, doubt it, enjoin it, exclaim it, expect it. Different attitudes toward propositions are called ''propositional attitudes'', and they are also discussed under the headings of ''
intentionality ''Intentionality'' is the power of minds to be about something: to represent or to stand for things, properties and states of affairs. Intentionality is primarily ascribed to mental states, like perceptions, beliefs or desires, which is why it ha ...
'' and ''
linguistic modality In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature a ...
''. Many problematic situations in real life arise from the circumstance that many different propositions in many different modalities are in the air at once. In order to compare propositions of different colours and flavours, as it were, we have no basis for comparison but to examine the underlying propositions themselves. Thus we are brought back to matters of language and logic. Despite the name, propositional attitudes are not regarded as psychological attitudes proper, since the formal disciplines of linguistics and logic are concerned with nothing more concrete than what can be said in general about their formal properties and their patterns of interaction.


See also

* Accessibility relation *
Affect (linguistics) In linguistics, affect is an attitude or emotion that a speaker brings to an utterance. Affects such as sarcasm, contempt, dismissal, distaste, disgust, disbelief, exasperation, boredom, anger, joy, respect or disrespect, sympathy, pity, gratitu ...
*
Attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology), an individual's predisposed state of mind regarding a value * Metaphysics of presence * Propositional attitude, a relational mental state connecting a person to a propo ...
*
Belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the world which can be either truth value, true o ...
*
Disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit, a preparation, a state of readiness, or a tendency to act in a specified way. The terms dispositional belief and occurrent belief refer, in the former case, to a belief that is held in the mind bu ...
*
Embedded clause A subordinate clause, dependent clause, subclause, or embedded clause is a clause that is embedded within a complex sentence. For instance, in the English sentence "I know that Bette is a dolphin", the clause "that Bette is a dolphin" occurs as th ...
*
Habit A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.
*
Intensionality In any of several fields of study that treat the use of signs — for example, in linguistics, logic, mathematics, semantics, semiotics, and philosophy of language — an intension is any Property (philosophy), property or Quality (philosophy), ...
*
Knowledge Knowledge can be defined as Descriptive knowledge, awareness of facts or as Procedural knowledge, practical skills, and may also refer to Knowledge by acquaintance, familiarity with objects or situations. Knowledge of facts, also called pro ...
*
Responsive predicate In formal semantics (natural language), formal semantics a responsive predicate is an embedding predicate which can take either a Declarative sentence, declarative or an interrogative embedded clause, complement. For instance, the English language, ...
*
Qualia In philosophy of mind, qualia ( or ; singular form: quale) are defined as individual instances of Subjectivity, subjective, consciousness, conscious experience. The term ''qualia'' derives from the Latin neuter plural form (''qualia'') of the Lati ...
*
Self-fulfilling prophecy A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that comes true at least in part as a result of a person's or group of persons' belief or Expectation (epistemic), expectation that said prediction would come true. This suggests that people's beliefs in ...
*
Truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth is typically ascribed to things that aim to represent reality or otherwise correspond to it, such as beliefs, ...


Footnotes


Notes


Bibliography

* Awbrey, J. and Awbrey, S.(1995), "Interpretation as Action: The Risk of Inquiry", Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines 15, 40–52. * Cresswell, M.J. (1985), ''Structured meanings. The semantics of propositional attitudes''. MIT Press, Cambridge & London 1985. * Quine, W.V. (1956), "Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes", ''Journal of Philosophy'' 53 (1956). Reprinted, pp. 185–196 in Quine (1976), ''Ways of Paradox''. * Quine, W.V. (1976), ''The Ways of Paradox, and Other Essays'', 1st edition, 1966. Revised and enlarged edition, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1976. * Quine, W.V. (1980 a), ''From a Logical Point of View, Logico-Philosophical Essays'', 2nd edition, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. * Quine, W.V. (1980 b), "Reference and Modality", pp. 139–159 in Quine (1980 a), ''From a Logical Point of View''. * Ramsey, F.P. (1927), "Facts and Propositions", ''Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 7'', 153–170. Reprinted, pp. 34–51 in F.P. Ramsey, ''Philosophical Papers'', David Hugh Mellor (ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1990. * Ramsey, F.P. (1990), ''Philosophical Papers'', David Hugh Mellor (ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. * Runes, Dagobert D. (ed.), ''Dictionary of Philosophy'', Littlefield, Adams, and Company, Totowa, NJ, 1962. * Russell, Bertrand (1912), ''The Problems of Philosophy'', 1st published 1912. Reprinted, Galaxy Book, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 1959. Reprinted, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1988. * Russell, Bertrand (1918), "The Philosophy of Logical Atomism", ''The Monist'', 1918. Reprinted, pp. 177–281 in ''Logic and Knowledge: Essays 1901–1950'', Robert Charles Marsh (ed.), Unwin Hyman, London, UK, 1956. Reprinted, pp. 35–155 in ''The Philosophy of Logical Atomism'', David Pears (ed.), Open Court, La Salle, IL, 1985. * Russell, Bertrand (1956), ''Logic and Knowledge: Essays 1901–1950'', Robert Charles Marsh (ed.), Unwin Hyman, London, UK, 1956. Reprinted, Routledge, London, UK, 1992. * Russell, Bertrand (1985), ''The Philosophy of Logical Atomism'', David Pears (ed.), Open Court, La Salle, IL.


External links

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Propositional Attitudes
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Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy The ''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' (''IEP'') is a scholarly online encyclopedia, dealing with philosophy, Philosophy, philosophical topics, and philosophers. The IEP combines open access publication with peer reviewed publication of ori ...
'' {{Formal semantics Psycholinguistics Psychological attitude Concepts in epistemology Formal semantics (natural language)