Propositional Attitudes

  • Rainer Bäuerle
  • M. J. Cresswell
Part of the Handbook of Philosophical Logic book series (HALO, volume 10)


The phrase ‘propositional attitude’ was used by Russell1 to cover such ‘mental’ things as beliefs, hopes, wishes, fears and the like. One can even use the phrase more widely to refer to indirect discourse in general. The grammatical mark of an expression for a propositional attitude in English is that it can take a that-complement. Russell’s example was
  1. (1)

    Othello believes that Desdemona loves Cassio

and the problem is the individuation of the object of Othello’s belief. To believe is to believe something, but since Desdemona does not love Cassio, there is no such thing as ‘Desdemona’s loving Cassio’ to be the object of Othello’s belief. It seems plausible, however, to analyse the meaning of (1) by requiring it to be true if and only if Othello stands in whatever relation is the meaning of ‘believe’ to the entity which is the meaning of
  1. (2)

    Desdemona loves Cassio

and that this be an entity which still exists, even though Desdemona does not in fact love Cassio.


Propositional Attitude Philosophical Logic Impossible World Structure Meaning Illocutionary Force 
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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rainer Bäuerle
    • 1
  • M. J. Cresswell
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut für maschinelle SprachverarbeitungUniversität StuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Centre for Logic, Language and ComputationVictoria University of WellingtonNew Zealand
  3. 3.Texas A & M UniversityUSA

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