On Product‐based Accounts of Propositional Attitudes

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (4):302-313 (2014)
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Abstract
Propositional attitude sentences, such as John believes that snow is white, are traditionally taken to express the holding of a relation between a subject and what ‘that’-clauses like ‘that snow is white’ denote, i.e. propositions. On the traditional account, propositions are abstract, mind- and language-independent entities. Recently, some have raised some serious worries for the traditional account and thought that we were mistaken about the kind of entities propositions are. Over the last ten years there has then been a boom of accounts of propositions in terms of mental acts . But Friederike Moltmann has recently suggested that in accounting for attitudes we should forget about mind- and language-independent entities and acts and follow Twardowski in focusing instead on attitudinal objects, which are the products of our mental life. In this paper, I will focus on some semantic problems that any product-based account seems to face. Moreover, I will show that product-based accounts may be also criticised on ontological grounds. My conclusion will be that we lack a reason to think that in accounting for propositional attitudes we should focus on the alleged products of our mental lives
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