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Publication Detail
Belief about Belief
Abstract
This thesis is concerned with the self-ascription of belief. It raises the possibility that one can have a higher-order belief that she believes that p without having the lower-order belief that p. This possibility not only poses a challenge to accounts of self-ascription that model self-ascription in terms of a constitutive relation between higher-order and lower-order belief, it also raises the puzzling question as to how a subject from a first-person point of view is able to distinguish whether in believing that she believes that p, she is forming a view about the world or forming a view about her own mental state. In Chapter 1, I bring to light a commonly endorsed assumption that there is a lower-order state embedded in self-ascription. In Chapter 2, I introduce possible cases and draw on the phenomenology of surprise to show how it is possible for a higher-order belief and a lower-order belief to come apart. In Chapter 3, I discuss the questions such a possibility raise for us and focus especially on its impact on the transparency account. Chapter 4 builds on preceding discussions to show the absurdity about self-ascriptions of belief that Moore’s paradox reveals, and suggest that any attempts to solve Moore’s paradox should first recognise that both conjuncts in Moorean sentences rest at the higher-order level.
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