• Sam26
    2.6k
    There's ill will in some circles towards this sort of analysis. Think of this as setting up a basic structure or grammar for belief. A belief is a relation between an individual and a proposition.Banno

    There's definitely a relation between individuals and beliefs, this seems obvious. However, I would go further, viz., beliefs are relations between individuals and certain types of actions. Individuals show their beliefs by what they do (actions). So I can express that I believe that an object X is a car by using a proposition. I can also show my belief in cars without using language, by getting into the car, working on the car, changing a tire, etc. It's the conscious individual that gives life to a belief in relation to the world.

    Many intentional states come in whole propositions, and for that reason those that do are often described by philosophers as "propositional attitudes." This is a bad terminology because it suggests that my intentional state is an attitude to a proposition. In general, beliefs, desires, and so on are not attitudes to propositions. If I believe that Washington was the first president, my attitude is to Washington and not to the proposition. Very few of our intentional states are directed at propositions. Most are directed at objects and states of affairs in the world independent of any proposition. Sometimes an intentional state might be directed at a proposition. If, for example, I believe that Bernoulli's principle is trivial, then the object of my belief is a proposition, namely, Bernoulli's principle. In the sentence "John believes that Washington was the first president," it looks like the proposition that Washington was the first president is the object of the belief. But that is a grammatical illusion. The proposition is the content of the belief, not the object of the belief. In this case, the object of the belief is Washington. It is impossible to exaggerate the damage done to philosophy and cognitive science by the mistaken view that "believe" and other intentional verbs name relations between believers and propositions. — Searle, my bolding

    I agree with much of this. I never liked the phrase "propositional attitudes," it never struck me as correct. I also agree with - "Very few of our intentional states are directed at propositions. Most are directed at objects and states of affairs in the world independent of any proposition...The proposition is the content of the belief, not the object of the belief.(Searle)." So the proposition expresses the content of what I believe, but it's definitely not the object of my belief. The object is the world of facts.
  • PhilosophyRunner
    302
    There's definitely a relation between individuals and beliefs, this seems obvious. However, I would go further, viz., beliefs are relations between individuals and certain types of actions. Individuals show their beliefs by what they do (actions). So I can express that I believe that an object X is a car by using a proposition. I can also show my belief in cars without using language, by getting into the car, working on the car, changing a tire, etc. It's the conscious individual that gives life to a belief in relation to the world.Sam26

    How would you explain belief where there is no action? If I take a trek into the Amazon rain forest, where I perform no actions relating to cars (don't speak about cars, don't get into cars, don't see cars, etc) I do not stop believing in cars.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    How would you explain belief where there is no action? If I take a trek into the Amazon rain forest, where I perform no actions relating to cars (don't speak about cars, don't get into cars, don't see cars, etc) I do not stop believing in cars.PhilosophyRunner

    Where did your beliefs about cars come from? You didn't develop your beliefs in a vacuum. At some point you saw a car, or were told about cars, or interacted with cars.
  • sime
    1k
    In AI , the word "belief" is principally used to denote an agent's understanding of cause and effect in terms of his "Cartesian" mental model of the world. Here, a "belief" can be identified as map involving the following types which comprise the agent's internal epistemic state.

    Belief : (History of Observations x Set of Possible Actions) --> Power Set of Observations

    "History of Observations" comprises the agent's understanding of his external world, and refers to his memory of observations up to and including his present observations. Conditioned on his observation history, he infers the consequences of performing a possible action. In order to accommodate causal and epistemic uncertainty, the agent will in general map a possible action to a set of potential observations, hence the use of the power set on the right hand side.

    Nowhere in the above definition is the world, as we outsiders understand it, referred to by the agent's beliefs, for the agent's beliefs are understood purely in terms of the agent's mental functioning and stimulus responses. It should also be understood that from the point of view of the agent, his observation history is his "external world".

    It makes no sense for onlookers to interpret an agent as referring to anything other than his memories and sensory surface. As far as an onlooker is concerned who is trying to understand the agent's beliefs, the world that is external to the agent is only relevant and useful to the onlooker in so far as the onlooker lacks knowledge of the agent's mental functioning - in which case the onlooker can infer the agent's mental disposition bu observing the agent's behavioural reactions to external stimuli originating in the world of the onlooker. But if an onlooker were to possess perfect knowledge of the agent's mentation, then as far as that onlooker is concerned, the state of the external world would be irrelevant with regards to understanding what the agent believes.

    No matter how much a community of agents might appear to agree (or disagree) that "such and such is true of "the" real world", as far as linguistic designation is concerned they are merely talking past one another and gesticulating towards different and unsharable private worlds corresponding to their individuated mental processes.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    4.7k
    No matter how much a community of agents might appear to agree (or disagree) that "such and such is true of "the" real world", as far as linguistic designation is concerned they are merely talking past one another and gesticulating towards different and unsharable private worlds corresponding to their individuated mental processes.sime

    You said, "in AI", but this is supposed to apply to the psychology of animals as well, right?

    You talk about your model and I talk about my model, but we're never actually talking about the same things.

    as far as linguistic designation is concernedsime

    Can you explain why this qualifier? Is there some other way in which agents do share a world?
  • PhilosophyRunner
    302
    Where did your beliefs about cars come from? You didn't develop your beliefs in a vacuum. At some point you saw a car, or were told about cars, or interacted with cars.Sam26

    Or imagined it or dreamed it?

    Yes my belief in this specific example would be because of actions, but I don;t think it is necessarily so.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    Goodness, a resurrection from five years ago. This thread was an analytic response to the vast amount of rubbish written about belief on these fora. As such the OP is a summary of what I take as the standard understanding of belief found in recent literature.Banno

    Thanks for the welcome. Yes, I have been doing a lot of resurrecting. :blush: I find that some of the older threads are more interesting than the newer ones.

    It makes sense that the OP is based on more recent literature. I tend to read older philosophers and therefore some reorientation is often required, but I think Kit Fine’s distinction between modal and essential properties is lurking in the background of this topic, and he is himself resurrecting a much older notion.

    Thanks for the interesting quote from Searle. It’s curious how strong he is in that last sentence. Often when I read Searle I find myself agreeing with him almost entirely, but with some remainder, like a single puzzle piece that is missing. In this case I think that an undue abstraction occurs when the emphasis is placed on the relational quality between proposition and believer. I think Searle believes that an undue abstraction occurs when the proposition is reified, which is apparently a common occurrence in contemporary philosophy. The more concrete and less abstract alternatives would be, respectively, an emphasis on assent, and designating the content of the belief as “objects and states of affairs in the world independent of any proposition.”

    While I think Searle is right to resist an overly abstract notion of belief, I can’t agree with his claims about propositions. Searle seems to think it would make sense to say that propositions could be the object of belief. I mostly agree with that propositions point to content, not to a reified designator. Or as Aquinas says, “Now the act of the believer does not terminate in a proposition, but in a thing. For as in science we do not form propositions, except in order to have knowledge about things through their means, so is it in belief.”* But if Searle is responding to contemporaries who do reify propositions in this strange way, then what he says would make sense.

    This struck me not as something novel, but as a clarification. In particular it relates to a conversation with @Sam26 and @creativesoul as to whether beliefs can all be expressed in words, or somethign like that. I had not expressed this clearly enough.Banno

    Perhaps it is only a difference of words, but your OP is quite emphatic that belief is propositional, whereas Searle is claiming that it is (usually) not. More specifically, Searle seems to think that propositions can capture the content of beliefs, but that the object of belief itself is usually not a proposition. Would you agree with Searle that beliefs are usually non-propositional?

    Stipulating definitions is treacherous, as I've shown elsewhere, and this thread should be read as analysing belief rather than providing a definition.Banno

    This is a longer conversation, but as a throwaway comment I will just say that I’m not sure we can talk about a thing without a definition, stated or unstated.

    If I were to choose the aspect of belief that is, as it were, most central, it would be that beliefs explain actions. Given that, while "to think with assent" has its merits, it is insufficient in that sometimes we act without thinking - that is, not all our beliefs are explicit.Banno

    Okay, that’s an interesting argument. For clarity’s sake:

    1. Beliefs explain actions
    2. Some actions are taken without thinking
    3. Therefore belief is not a species of thinking

    First I want to note that in your OP you claim that belief explains but does not determine action, such that we can act contrary to our beliefs (and I agree—I do not believe that every action requires a belief which explains it, e.g. akrasia). That was years ago, but if you still hold such a view then apparently not all actions are explained by belief, which is what your argument would require.

    Second, while I agree that beliefs often explain actions, I should also think that beliefs often do not explain actions. Searle’s example, “John believes that Washington was the first president,” has no apparent impact on action, and yet it is surely a belief. John might believe any number of trivial propositions about things like history or astronomy that have no impact on his actions. Thus it seems that the aspect of belief you have identified does not cover all belief. Furthermore, in general I don’t understand the rationale for making belief orbit around action.

    Third, I am not convinced there are non-propositional beliefs, although perhaps I should read your exchange with Sam26 and creativesoul. I tend to think that implicit beliefs are propositional. For example, if I am driving and I brake when a child runs into the street, I am acting on the belief that, “If I brake I will not hit this child,” even though this belief is not explicit or formulated or conscious. Admittedly the thinking would not need to be discursive or consciously carried out. It is fast thinking, but it nevertheless involves a mental act.

    But maybe the English word "thinking" is too narrow for this broad notion of belief. Certainly there is a mental or cognitive act occurring. Perhaps a different genus for the definition is preferable, such as 'propositional attitude', or Searle's, 'intentional state'.

    You believe, arguably, that I am not writing this while floating in space in the orbit of Jupiter, yet until now that belief had not been explicated.Banno

    This is a bit tricky. I would want to say that it is something I do not believe, but not something I do believe. Or rather, it was. Now that you have brought it to my attention I have assented to it and I believe it. That I believe you are sitting at a computer on Earth explains why I would assent to any entailed propositions that are brought to my attention, or which become generally relevant.


    * Summa Theologiae, II.II.Q1.A2
  • LuckyR
    451
    Where did your beliefs about cars come from? You didn't develop your beliefs in a vacuum. At some point you saw a car, or were told about cars, or interacted with cars.


    Not necessarily. If I see lightning, I can develop a belief that lightning is caused by my ancestors being angry, in the complete absence of experience with my ancestors being angry causing lightning. I can synthesize my belief de novo from individual experience with lightning, stories that my ancestors existed and personal feelings of anger.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    There's definitely a relation between individuals and beliefs, this seems obvious. However, I would go further, viz., beliefs are relations between individuals and certain types of actions. Individuals show their beliefs by what they do (actions). So I can express that I believe that an object X is a car by using a proposition. I can also show my belief in cars without using language, by getting into the car, working on the car, changing a tire, etc. It's the conscious individual that gives life to a belief in relation to the world.Sam26

    I think you might be confusing a belief with the revelation of a belief. Beliefs don't need to be shown or "given life." They still exist even when they are not shown or given life.

    Where did your beliefs about cars come from? You didn't develop your beliefs in a vacuum. At some point you saw a car, or were told about cars, or interacted with cars.Sam26

    Beliefs may arise from experiences or actions, but it does not follow that they are a relation between individuals and actions.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    How would you know if someone has a belief if there is no evidence of that belief? That's the question that interests me. How are belief states exhibited in the world, not do they exist when there is no evidence for them. It's about those things that demonstrate that one has a belief.
  • Leontiskos
    2k


    Perhaps that is the question that interests you, but it seems to me that the thread is about belief, not about how we come to know about the beliefs of others.

    An easier example is tattoos. If there were a thread on tattoos, we wouldn't want to all of the sudden start talking about how we come to know about the tattoos of others, and think that we are still talking about tattoos in themselves. The two topics are quite different, no? One is, "What is a tattoo?" The other is, "How do we come to know about the tattoos of others?"
  • Ludwig V
    1.2k
    If I may comment on some of these issues....

    There seems to be some disagreement and confusion about beliefs and actions. Surely we can confidently say that if X believes that p, X will normally act, on occasions when p is relevant, on p. In other words, and in perhaps old-fashioned language, if X believes p, X can be expected to act on p, when X believes that p is relevant, and conversely. Note, speaking includes speaking to oneself and both are actions, so X can be expected to assert that p when X believes that it is appropriate to do so.

    This give a context in which the use of "believes" might be helpfully explained. When we explain actions, we do so by explaining the reasons for them. But one very quickly finds that there are difficulties about this. First, It is not enough for p to be true for it to be correctly posited as a reason for X's action. If p is to count as a reason for what X does, it must be known by X. Second, there are occasions when X carries out an action which is best explained by p, but p is not true. The way to express this, is to say that X believes that p.

    Whether it is appropriate to call such an explanation of the use of a word as a definition, I do not presume to say.

    The question of the object of belief has always bothered me. I'm no fan of propositions. The idea that the object of knowledge is the world, the facts, the way things are makes sense to me. But it doesn't work for belief, because belief can be false. I always thought that was the reason for the invention of the concept of "intentional" objects. Perhaps it can be said that belief aims to have a relation to the world, etc. but may fail. Is that intolerably mysterious, or, rather, is that any more mysterious that the concepts of a proposition or an intentional object?

    I see two more posts have arrived while I was writing this, so I had better stop at that.
  • frank
    14.9k
    How would you know if someone has a belief if there is no evidence of that belief? That's the question that interests me. How are belief states exhibited in the world, not do they exist when there is no evidence for them. It's about those things that demonstrate that one has a belief.Sam26

    I don't think you could be certain. You start with the conviction that humans have the faculty of thought which gives rise to beliefs. You don't believe that about bacteria or clouds. It's just humans.

    So you assume others have beliefs, right?
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    What you are unaware of is the ongoing discussion that some of us been having about beliefs. This discussion goes back 7 or 8 years. It started with the subject of pre-linguistic beliefs.

    It's actually interesting how far back some of us have been discussing philosophy. My first philosophy forum was Ephilosopher. I became a member of that forum around 2005. My first introduction to academic philosophy was around 1975. Just a little bit of background.
  • Leontiskos
    2k


    That's interesting. I was thinking about starting a philosophy forum myself. But if you've been thinking about this for 7 or 8 years, and you're now at a point where you are claiming that a belief is a relation between an individual and a certain type of action, then I can only conclude that you must have taken a wrong turn at some point.

    Feel free to link me to a post where you defend that claim. It's tricky to search this thread because the search returns results from any thread with 'belief' in the title.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    Do you usually draw conclusions without seeing the arguments? It started with a thread I created years ago in another forum. The thread started as an exegesis of Wittgenstein's On Certainty? The discussion proceeded from there to bedrock beliefs or bedrock propositions and what those could be, but I'm not going to get into it in this thread. Some of the argument is in this thread... https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/7230/some-remarks-on-bedrock-beliefs/p1
  • Janus
    15.9k
    I think we can be confident that people believe many things; beliefs which do not make themselves evident in their actions.

    For example do not many people believe in evolution, that the Sun is at the centre of the Solar System, that the Earth revolves around it, that the Moon is smaller than the Earth and revolves around it, that there are distant galaxies containing stars and planets, that the Earth is roughly spherical, that there was life on Earth prior to human life...the examples of beliefs which do not show themselves in actions seem to be countless.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    Methinks that the Anglo bias towards empiricism is rearing its head and conflating beliefs themselves with the ways in which we empirically detect beliefs in others, even to the point that a belief is re-defined to be the detection of a belief (or the relation containing the conspicuous action). It's strange, but I've seen the exact same thing on another forum.

    Alternatively, there is the idea that "actions speak louder than words," such that one's actions may more accurately reflect beliefs than self-reporting would. Still, this remains at the epistemic level, inquiring into how others' beliefs come to be known. It remains a step away from the topic: beliefs in themselves.
  • Ludwig V
    1.2k
    the examples of beliefs which do not show themselves in actions seem to be countless.Janus

    That's true. But is it absurd to go counter-factual and say that a belief would show in action (where thinking counts as an action) if appropriate circumstances arise? Or are you saying that there is no necessary relation between belief and action?

    Your examples don't include bedrock beliefs, and I'm inclined to think that my belief that I have a hand or two shows every time I pick something up, so they couldn't occur on this list. Is that right?

    The examples on your list all seem to be things that I have learnt or at least thought about, at some point. Would that be a necessary condition?

    Methinks that the Anglo bias towards empiricism is rearing its head and conflating beliefs themselves with the ways in which we empirically detect beliefs in others, even to the point that a belief is re-defined to be the detection of a beliefLeontiskos

    You are, I think, picking up on the lingering traces of logical positivism in that philosophical tradition. But isn't it legitimate to describe what belief does, as a way of describing what belief is? I have in mind the role of belief in our language, which is not reducing it to the question how we know what people believe. Perhaps I'm just fooling myself.
  • Sam26
    2.6k
    I think we can be confident that people believe many things; beliefs which do not make themselves evident in their actions.Janus

    I'm not saying that people don't have beliefs that are not readily known to others. I'm saying that if we're to say that Mary has a belief, then for us to know that Mary believes X it must be expressed in some action (linguistic or nonlinguistic).
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    But is it absurd to go counter-factual and say that a belief would show in action...Ludwig V

    But this is to talk about an effect of the belief, not the belief in itself. It is a conflation of effect with cause. Further, mere thinking is not an empirical effect, and is therefore not what Sam26 is talking about.

    But isn't it legitimate to describe what belief does, as a way of describing what belief is?Ludwig V

    It is legitimate to describe what belief does as a way of understanding what belief is. To describe an effect is not to describe the cause. That's the problem: says "beliefs are..." What he ought to say is, "the effects of beliefs are..." He is not talking about beliefs; he is talking about their effects.

    I have in mind the role of belief in our language, which is not reducing it to the question how we know what people believe. Perhaps I'm just fooling myself.Ludwig V

    Belief has an effect on our thinking and our language as well. These are more subtle than empirical effects, but they are effects nonetheless. We know this because one belief can cause multiple effects, and therefore a belief and its effect are not the same thing (even when it comes to thinking).
  • Ludwig V
    1.2k
    I'm saying that if we're to say that Mary has a belief, then for us to know that Mary believes X it must be expressed in some action (linguistic or nonlinguistic).Sam26

    I wouldn't object to saying that a given belief may never be expressed in action, only that it would be if circumstances were right. Though I would look for an episode of acquiring the belief. Just what that might amount to, I'm not sure about.

    It is legitimate to describe what belief does as a way of understanding what belief is.Leontiskos

    That's enough for me.

    one belief can cause multiple effects, and therefore a belief and its effect are not the same thing (even when it comes to thinking).Leontiskos

    I agree that a cause is distinct from its effect, though how far that's an accurate description of science is another question. Since Hume, we establish a cause/effect relationship by observing correlation and contiguity between them. There is no more than that to it. We cannot observe beliefs independently of their effects, (any more than we can observe electrons and their effects independently - or the wind and its effects), so we cannot establish a cause/effect relationship between a belief and its effects.

    Unless you are using "cause" (or possibly "belief") in a way different from the way it is understood in orthodox philosophy.

    I'm sorry to be difficult. But the idea that belief causes appropriate actions seems perfectly commonsensical. I wouldn't deny that there must be something right about it. All I'm saying is that on the orthodox philosophical view of causation, it doesn't make sense. Maybe it makes sense in some other way.
  • Banno
    23.8k
    Let's do some clarification before proceeding.

    Relations, in first order logic, have a form such as f(a,b); where "f" is the relation and "a" and "b" are individuals. When I, and I think also Searle, talk of believe not being a relation, it's this we have in mind.

    Now it should be clear that belief is not a relation of this sort, since we may not substitute in to a belief salva veritate.

    So here's a breakdown of what Searle is about, in the quote above. We might be tempted to analyse beliefs as standing over a proposition and a person, so: "Louis Lane believes that Kent wears glasses" may be parsed as "Believe (Lane, "Kent wears glasses"), which is reminiscent of the form above, f(a,b). But it would be wrong to suppose that this surface similarity shows beliefs to be first order relations. In particular, what the belief is about is not shown by this analysis, since what the belief is about sits within the range of the believed proposition, "Kent wears glasses", which this analysis treats as an individual.

    That is, Clark Kent. And not Superman.

    This is not a rejection by Searle of the analysis of beliefs as ranging over propositions.

    Anyway, more to say, later.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    All I'm saying is that on the orthodox philosophical view of causation, it doesn't make sense.Ludwig V

    Now you are bringing up Hume, which is a new topic. In short, I do not agree that Hume's view is philosophical orthodoxy; and no one in this recent discussion accepts the Humean claim that there is no causal relationship between a belief and actions. If there is one thing we all agree on, it's that beliefs and actions are related in an explanatory or causal manner.

    But it seems like we are in general agreement, and that's good. If you want to run with the Humean devil's advocate you will need a different interlocutor. That's not the sort of thing I would want to discuss in this thread.
  • Janus
    15.9k
    I have no argument whatsoever with that.

    That's true. But is it absurd to go counter-factual and say that a belief would show in action (where thinking counts as an action) if appropriate circumstances arise? Or are you saying that there is no necessary relation between belief and action?

    Your examples don't include bedrock beliefs, and I'm inclined to think that my belief that I have a hand or two shows every time I pick something up, so they couldn't occur on this list. Is that right?

    The examples on your list all seem to be things that I have learnt or at least thought about, at some point. Would that be a necessary condition?
    Ludwig V

    I think that certain kinds of beliefs are necessarily associated with action. Beliefs about what we are capable of, about the nature of humans and the animals, plants and soils we deal with.

    I'm not sure it makes sense to speak of (some at least) "bedrock beliefs" as beliefs. Regarding the example you gave, I would say we use our hands before we form any explicit beliefs such as "I have two hands", and even then, it seems to be more of an observation or realization than a belief.

    The beliefs I highlighted are, as you point out, things we learn or have thought about. In short, I would say that beliefs that have no practical significance to me could be expected to have no effect on my actions. Will that belief, that beliefs that have no practical significance could be expected to have no effect on my cations, itself have an effect on my actions? It has had an effect on what I said, so if you count that as an action, I guess you could say it did.

    But I think that is a different definition of action than the one I had in mind.
  • Leontiskos
    2k
    Now it should be clear that belief is not a relation of this sort, since we may not substitute in to a belief salva veritate.Banno

    It seems like this is your definitional recursion conundrum in a slightly different context (first order logic). We could only substitute salva veritate if the equality relation was redefined to take into account belief, but that would result in the same recursive definition problem. For example, we could say that two beliefs are equal (substitutable) if and only if the subject (Lane) believes them to be equal (Kent's identity and Superman's identity), but this would result in recursively adverting to Lois Lane's belief within a function that is attempting to capture her belief in the first place. Is that the idea?

    In your quote of Searle it seemed like he was rejecting the claim that a belief is a relation between a believer and a proposition, but was content with the claim that a belief is a relation between a believer and the content of a proposition. (I questioned the validity of the distinction between a proposition and a proposition's content in my last post to you.) Do you think Searle is rejecting the relation model of beliefs wholesale?

    I think you are right that a belief cannot be captured by a first order relation, yet on my view the deeper problem is with logic, not with relations. Intentional realities like belief are not the sort of things that logic is able to capture, much less define. Part of it is that beliefs are more fundamental than logic, but another part is that logic is too blunt an instrument or too broad a brush to capture the nuance of intentional realities like belief.
  • Banno
    23.8k

    Doesn’t logic just set out what it is we can say, consistently?
  • Leontiskos
    2k

    Is it inconsistent to say that Lois Lane believes Clark Kent wears glasses, because logic can't say it?

    It seems to me that (formal) logic is something like the science of modal relations, and much of reality is not able to be modeled by modal relations. I'd say reality has more to do with regularities and natures than with modal relations, although logic is still vitally important. Of course I plead guilty to Aristotelianism, and see the world through the lens of substances and natures more than through the lens of necessity and possibility.
  • Banno
    23.8k
    I'm not following your last few posts.

    Edit:
    So, for example, you say
    Searle seems to think it would make sense to say that propositions could be the object of belief.Leontiskos
    despite
    The proposition is the content of the belief, not the object of the belief. — Searle, my bolding
    And then his example of Bernoulli's principle.

    And
    Is it inconsistent to say that Lois Lane believes Clark Kent wears glasses, because logic can't say it?Leontiskos
    I don't see where such a proposal fits. Indeed, I do not understand what it claims. It is not inconsistent to say that Lois Lane believes Clark Kent wears glasses, a sentence that can be parsed more formally.

    I'm somewhat nonplussed.
  • Ludwig V
    1.2k
    actions are related in an explanatory or causal manner.Leontiskos

    Well, if you are happy for me to say that beliefs explain actions, I'm content to do so and to leave the notion of explanation undefined because it is off-topic.

    It has had an effect on what I said, so if you count that as an action, I guess you could say it did.
    But I think that is a different definition of action than the one I had in mind.
    Janus

    So long as we agree, I won't quarrel about the words and I won't fuss about saying something to oneself silently or about that multifarious word "think".

    The proposition is the content of the belief, not the object of the belief.(Searle).Sam26

    That seems to me to be exactly right. I was never happy with propositional attitudes, though on different grounds.

    It is not inconsistent to say that Lois Lane believes Clark Kent wears glasses, a sentence that can be parsed more formally.Banno

    I wouldn't quarrel with the representation B(X,p), if that's what you mean. But I don't see that it helps any. I would suggest that before settling on a formal representation we need a good understanding of the use of the word in the wild.

    I think most particularly that we need to better understand why beliefs explain actions even when the belief is false.
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