Trying To Think
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Week 4 (24th March)
Belief =
1. an epistemic state.
2. an intentional state. pictures and words are also intentional.
3. a propositional attitude. ie. an attitude towards a proposition (proposition = something that expresses content that can be true or false). Other propositional attitudess are desire, hope and fear, but only belief can be true or false. The others also have an affect, or phenomenal content.

Even though beliefs can influence perceptions ("theory laden theory of perception"), perception must in general be prior to belief, in order to form beliefs. Perception is of course inferential, with inference being made on the basis of expectations and beliefs.

Unconcious beliefs. Not enough room in consciousness for all our beliefs. If we stop being conscious of a belief, do we stop having it?

Dispositional Account of Belief.
Are beliefs just dispositions to act (or talk)? (disposition = tendency, inherent in the object, to behave a certain way in certain conditions). Do all beliefs -> actions? Depends on strength of belief, + action is not always directly or simply related (belief -> a cluster of dispositions). Can we eliminate talk of beliefs? (= doxastic eliminativism).

How are beliefs related?
Beliefs are inferentially promiscuous. Obviously the promiscuousness has limits, otherwise learning something would lead to learning all its ramifications. Also, we can hold inconsistent beliefs (but can we believe them if we know they are inconsistent?)
Doxastic holism: our beliefs and concepts are anchored in other beliefs and concepts
sub-doxastic states: encaspsulated beliefs, not ingerentially pomiscuous (eg. illusions. Even though we know the illusion, we still believe one line is longer, and cannot stop that perception).

doxastic eliminativism.
= no such thing as beliefs. Just a convenient, folk psych fiction. Should really talk about states in the brain, neuro-psych, etc.
Is this self-defeating? Can doxastic eliminativism be believed? Supporters would say "we predict doxastic eliminativism will be true", instead of "believe".

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