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Can Deflationism Save Interpretivism?

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to show that the interpretivist account of propositional attitudes fails even at the most plausible reading that treats this theory as a version of the deflationary approach to existence coupled with a metaphysical claim about the judgement-dependence of propositional attitudes. It will be argued that adopting a deflationary reading of interpretivism allows this theory to avoid the common charge of fictionalism, according to which interpretivists cannot maintain realism about attitudes as their theory becomes a covert form of mental fictionalism. However, as will be shown, the deflationary version of interpretivism faces a fatal dilemma: either it becomes indistinguishable from generic deflationism about the mental, or it must embrace the metaphysical thesis of judgement-dependence of propositional attitudes. The latter option leads to unacceptable epistemological consequences, as it cannot accommodate intuitions about possibility of error in attribution of attitudes. Thus, it turns out that even a subtle version of interpretivism is not a viable theory of intentional states.

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Acknowledgements

I am grateful to Szymon Bogacz, Pawel Banas, Bartosz Janik, Sonia Kaminska, Katarzyna Kijania-Placek, Joanna Komorowska-Mach, Zuzanna Krzykalska, and Iza Skoczen for their helpful comments.

Funding

The work on this paper was funded by National Science Centre, Poland, grant under award number UMO-2014/15/D/HS1/02722.

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Correspondence to Krzysztof Poslajko.

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Poslajko, K. Can Deflationism Save Interpretivism?. Philosophia 48, 709–725 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-019-00155-8

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Keywords

  • Propositional attitudes
  • Interpretivism
  • Fictionalism
  • Judgement-dependence
  • Deflationism