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A defence of Owens’ exclusivity objection to beliefs having aims

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In this paper we argue that Steglich-Petersen’s response to Owens’ Exclusivity Objection does not work. Our first point is that the examples Steglich-Petersen uses to demonstrate his argument do not work because they employ an undefended conception of the truth aim not shared by his target (and officially eschewed by Steglich-Petersen himself). Secondly we will make the point that deliberating over whether to form a belief about p is not part of the belief forming process. When an agent enters into this process of deliberation, he has not, contra Steglich-Petersen, already adopted the truth aim with regard to p. In closing, we further suggest that proponents of the truth aim hypothesis need to focus on aim-guidance, not mere aim attribution, for their approach to have explanatory utility so underlining the significance of Owens’ argument.

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  1. Authors are listed in reverse alphabetical order. Why not? Possessors of names towards the end of the alphabet unite! We would like to thank the AHRC for funding a Doctoral Studentship (for Ema Sullivan-Bissett) and the Leverhulme Trust for funding a Major Leverhulme Research Fellowship (for Paul Noordhof) which supported the research of which this is a part; members of the Mind and Reason group, Keith Allen, Will McNeill and Rachael Wiseman who provided useful feedback on the presentation of these ideas, David Owens for his encouragement at a crucial stage, and Tom Stoneham for his feedback on the material as part of the postgraduate monitoring process in York.


  • Owens, D. J. (2003). Does belief have an aim? Philosophical Studies, 115, 283–305.

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  • Steglich-Petersen, A. (2009). Weighing the aim of belief. Philosophical Studies, 145, 395–405.

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Correspondence to Paul Noordhof.

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Sullivan-Bissett, E., Noordhof, P. A defence of Owens’ exclusivity objection to beliefs having aims. Philos Stud 163, 453–457 (2013).

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