The Concept of Belief in Cognitive Theory

Reply to Commentators
  • Owen Egan
Part of the Annals of Theoretical Psychology book series (AOTP, volume 4)


In reviewing psychological research relevant to my topic, I accepted the naive mentalistic theory that belief is a distinct category of mental act in which propositions, the internal surrogates of affirmative sentences, are judged, seen, felt, taken (etc.) to be true, or else rejected as false. The theory, so-called, was hardly more than a rule of thumb allowing me to confine myself to cognitive episodes that readily admitted of the description ’S believes that p’. I did not consider the substance of the naive theory in any detail. In particular, I did not commit myself to any specific views on the nature of propositions, and I felt free to consider a wide range of processes by which propositions might be judged true, using all the metaphors of ordinary usage—the drawing of inferences, the strengthening of convictions, the emergence of patterns, the buildup of associations, the clarification of concepts—as possible models for the process that, in the end, is referred to in more general terms as the formation or acquisition of a belief.


Cognitive Science Subjective Probability Propositional Attitude Folk Psychology Probability Judgment 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Owen Egan
    • 1
  1. 1.Linguistics Institute of IrelandDublin 2Ireland

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