The standard view of believes and other propositional attitude verbs is that such verbs express relations between agents and propositions. A sentence of the form “S believes that p” is true just in case S stands in the belief-relation to the proposition that p; this proposition is the referent of the complement clause that p. On this view, we would expect the clausal complements of propositional attitude verbs to be freely intersubstitutable with their corresponding proposition descriptions—for example, the proposition that p—as they are in the case of believes. In many cases, however, intersubstitution of that-clauses and proposition descriptions fails to preserve truth value or even grammaticality. These substitution failures lead some philosophers to reject the standard view of propositional attitude reports. Others conclude that propositional attitude verbs are systematically ambiguous. I reject both these views. On my view, the that-clause complements of propositional attitude verbs denote propositions, but proposition descriptions do not.
Research Article|January 01 2019
Jacob M. Nebel; Hopes, Fears, and Other Grammatical Scarecrows. The Philosophical Review 1 January 2019; 128 (1): 63–105. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-7213014
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