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Volume 8 Issue 1 (April 2000), Pages 1-138

The Authority of Avowals and the Concept of Belief (pages 20-39)

The pervasive dispositional model of belief is misguided. It fails to acknowledge the authority of first‐person ascriptions or avowals of belief, and the “decision principle”– that having decided the question whether p, there is, for me, no further question whether I believe that p. The dilemma is how one can have immediate knowledge of a state extended in time; its resolution lies in the expressive character of avowals – which does not imply a non‐assertoric thesis – and their non‐cognitive status. The common claim that there are higher‐order beliefs concerning ones present beliefs is rejected as unintelligible. The decision principle is defended against claims of “unconscious belief”; there is no interesting such category, since all beliefs are liable at some time to be considered, but mostly to be out of mind. Belief is not constituted by a disposition, but is connected with dispositions – it is an “attitude concept”.

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