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Direct reference and belief attributions Bryans, Joan Douglas


The aim of this dissertation is to provide a non-Fregean account of the functioning of belief attributions (BA's), specifically those of the form 'B believes that Fa' where 'a' is a proper name, which provides a satisfactory account of the phenomena associated with the substitution of co-referential names and with the use of vacuous names. After an intitial study of non-Fregean theories of reference, specifically those of Kripke, Kaplan and Donnellan in which Kaplan's introduction of content, of the singular proposition, is found to be necessary, an examination of certain proposed solutions for BA's, compatable with direct reference, is carried out. These proposals, namely those of Quine, Perry and Nathan Salmon, are all found wanting, the latter two due to their being, ultimately, Fregean. A non-Fregean approach is initiated beginning with an examination of our actual practices in using BA's. It is found that very different information can be conveyed by the use of the same sentence in the same context. While this differing information cannot be captured by means of the proposition expressed, it can be captured by treating the BA as an answer to a question. Belnap's logic of questions and answers is then developed to encompass vacuous terms and, with this in place, two distinct uses of BA's emerge. In one, the BA is used to provide a direct answer to the question; in the other it is used in order to modify the claim to truth of the embedded proposition, to provide a tentative answer. Problematic cases of BA's are then examined. It is found that substitution in all cases is permissible. Supposed difficulties with this position in the area of belief itself and with the explanation of action are discussed and resolved, the latter partly by means of the development and application of an account of 'why' questions and answers. The use of vacuous names is then investigated and a difference noted between cases in which the BA is used to provide a tentative answer and those in which it constitutes a direct answer. In the former case, the use of a vacuous name results in no answer being given. However, given the nature of tentative answers, no problems specific to belief attributions are generated in such cases. In order to deal with cases where the vacuous name occurs in a BA asserted as a direct answer, Evans' account of pretend games is invoked, though modified to permit a possible world account of counterfactuals.

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