Article/Publication Details

Notional Attitudes (On Wishing, Seeking and Finding)

(Original title: Notional Attitudes (On Wishing, Seeking and Finding))
Organon F, 2003, vol. 10, No 3, pp. 237-260.
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Our knowledge, beliefs, doubts, etc., concern primarily logical constructions of propositions. If we assume that iterating ‘belief attitudes’ is valid, i.e., that the agent is perfectly introspective, he knows what he knows, believes, etc., then the so-called propositional attitudes are actually hyperintensional attitudes, i.e., they are relations of an agent to the construction–concept (of a proposition) expressed by the embedded clause. Their implicit counterparts, relations of an agent to the proposition denoted by the embedded clause, are just idealised cases of an agent with unlimited inferential abilities. On the other hand, our wishes, intentions, seeking, (attempts at) finding, etc., concern (in empirical cases) particular intensions (offices, properties, propositions), and the so-called notional attitudes (to empirical notions) are (despite calling them notional) not hyperintensional. In the paper we formulate some criteria for notional attitudes and examine basic categories of them. In general, notional attitudes are relations-in-intension between an agent and an object to which the agent is intentionally related. Even relations of an agent to a proposition can be notional ones, in case there is no salient constructional counterpart, the attitude is not influenced by agent’s inferential abilities. Another problem we meet is the ambiguity of sentences expressing notional attitudes. These statements can often be read both in the de dicto and in the de re way. Yet, a common feature that characterizes notional attitudes is using the construction of the respective intension in the de dicto way. The respective intension is mentioned; referring on such a situation, the reporter may use any of the equivalent constructions (concepts) of the intension, but not just a co-referring notion of another intension. Still, unlike the cases of relations of an agent to an individual when the respective individual office serves just as a pointer to the individual, when referring on notional attitudes the use of the respective notion of the intension is indispensable, which might perhaps justify calling such attitudes notional, though they actually are intensional. We also show that a passive form of a sentence cannot be usually read in the de dicto way (unless an idiom is used). Thus a common belief at the equivalence of the active and passive form of a statement is generally not justified.

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