Wishing, Decision Theory, and Two-Dimensional Content

Journal of Philosophy 120 (2):61-93 (2023)
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Abstract

This paper is about two requirements on wish reports whose interaction motivates a novel semantics for these ascriptions. The first requirement concerns the ambiguities that arise when determiner phrases, such as definite descriptions, interact with ‘wish’. More specifically, several theorists have recently argued that attitude ascriptions featuring counterfactual attitude verbs license interpretations on which the determiner phrase is interpreted relative to the subject’s beliefs. The second requirement involves the fact that desire reports in general require decision-theoretic notions for their analysis. The current study is motivated by the fact that no existing account captures both of these aspects of wishing. I develop a semantics for wish reports that makes available belief-relative readings but also allows decision-theoretic notions to play a role in shaping the truth conditions of these ascriptions. The general idea is that we can analyze wishing in terms of a two-dimensional notion of expected utility.

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Kyle H. Blumberg
University of Melbourne

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