De Se Beliefs, Self-Ascription, and Primitiveness

Disputatio 9 (46):401-422 (2017)
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Abstract

De se beliefs typically pose a problem for propositional theories of content. The Property Theory of content tries to overcome the problem of de se beliefs by taking properties to be the objects of our beliefs. I argue that the concept of self-ascription plays a crucial role in the Property Theory while being virtually unexplained. I then offer different possibilities of illuminating that concept and argue that the most common ones are either circular, question-begging, or epistemically problematic. Finally, I argue that only a primitive understanding of self-ascription is viable. Self-ascription is the relation that subjects stand in with respect to the properties that they believe themselves to have. As such, self-ascription has to be primitive if it is supposed to do justice to the characteristic features of de se beliefs.

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Florian Wüstholz
Université de Fribourg

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