The Labyrinth of Attitude Reports

  • Daniel Quesada
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 52)


In this paper I attempt once more to solve the thorny issue of the interaction of semantic and pragmatic aspects in the interpretation of attitude reports.I will here approach the subject in a sort of (relatively) “naive” way. In particular, I will not go at all into the technical aspects of the proposals that will be put forward. I will be concerned mainly with reports that use sentences having as grammatical subjects of the subordinates either definite descriptions or other kinds of noun phrases, such as noun phrases with possessive pronouns, personal pronouns and demonstratives.


Mental State Noun Phrase Semantic Content Belief State Definite Description 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    This work is part of the research project PB87–0834-CO3–01 supported by the DGICYT.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    As explained-although with a different terminology-by D. Man inVisionch. 1. New York: W. H. Freeman, 1982.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    The distinction was first argued in connection with demonstratives by D. Kaplan inDemonstratives (unpublished, 1977).J. Perry argued it for personal pronouns in “Frege on Demonstratives,”Philosophical Review,86(1977), and “The Problem of the Essential Indexical,”Nous, 13 (1979).Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Thus we are clearly taking from the outset a realist position on the semantics of attitudes reports.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    “The Prince and the Phone Booth: Reporting Puzzling Beliefs,” Report No. CSLI-88–128. Stanford, CA: Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    The hypothesis that semantic contents can have such unarticulated constituents has currently wide currency in the work of Perry and his co-workers. See, e.g., “Thought without Representation.”Supplementary Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 60 (1986).Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    S. Kripke, “A Puzzle about Belief,” in A. Margalit (ed.)Meaning and Use(Dordrecht: Reidel, 1979), pp. 248–249.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    “The Prince and the Phone Booth,” pp. 21–22.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    The conceptual analysis that leads to maintain that mental states are “constitutively” semantic and what makes us explain action “semantically” must have a common source.Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    Let us assume, for the sake of the example, I am really a competent speaker of English.Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    Note however that this test is not used to define the two kinds of reports, but is only meant to supply some criteria for helping to decide to which kind does a particular report belong.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    Emphasis in this classificatory viewpoint is due to Perry. See his “Language, Mind, and Information,” report no. CSLI-85–44, Stanford University, 1985.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    See footnote 5.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Quesada
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidad Autónoma de BarcelonaSpain

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