Factive and nonfactive mental state attribution

Mind and Language 32 (5):525-544 (2017)
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Abstract

Factive mental states, such as knowing or being aware, can only link an agent to the truth; by contrast, nonfactive states, such as believing or thinking, can link an agent to either truths or falsehoods. Researchers of mental state attribution often draw a sharp line between the capacity to attribute accurate states of mind and the capacity to attribute inaccurate or “reality-incongruent” states of mind, such as false belief. This article argues that the contrast that really matters for mental state attribution does not divide accurate from inaccurate states, but factive from nonfactive ones.

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Jennifer Nagel
University of Toronto, Mississauga

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