, Volume 165, Issue 1, pp 197-211

Against alief

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Abstract

This essay attempts to clarify the nature and structure of aliefs. First I distinguish between a robust notion of aliefs and a deflated one. A robust notion of aliefs would introduce aliefs into our psychological ontology as a hitherto undiscovered kind, whereas a deflated notion of aliefs would identify aliefs as a set of pre-existing psychological states. I then propose the following dilemma: one the one hand, if aliefs have propositional content, then it is unclear exactly how aliefs differ from psychological states we already countenance, in which case there is no robust notion of aliefs; on the other, if aliefs just contain associative content, then they cannot do the explanatory work set out for them, in which case there is no reason to posit aliefs at all. Thus, it appears that we have little reason to posit the novel category of robust aliefs.