Belief, content, and cause

European Review of Philosophy 2:159-171 (1997)
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In some important papers, and especially in his 'The Problem of the Essential Indexical', John Perry has argued that we should draw a clear distinction between two aspects of belief: its causal role in action, on the one hand, and its semantic content (the proposition that is believed), on the other. According to Perry, beliefs with the same semantic content (with the same truth conditions) may have a very different causal influence on the subject¿s action. In this paper, we show that Perry's arguments in favor of this thesis are not sound and defend, against him, the common sense intuition according to which what leads us to act as we do is what we believe (the semantic content of our belief), or, in other words, that there is no schism between the semantic content and the causal role of our beliefs.

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