AuthorHendricks, Scott Christopher
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractWhen we believe for reasons, we appreciate those reasons. That is, we believe on the basis of those reasons. This relation between beliefs and their reasons is the basing relation. The basing relation is a psychological relation. How should we understand the nature of this relation? I examine two accounts: a causal theory of the basing relation and a noncausal, dispositional theory. Sententialism is the most widely embraced version of the causal theory of the basing relation. According to general sententialism, when beliefs are produced by deliberation, they are supported by a relation of causal production. Standing beliefs, on the other hand--our background beliefs--are organized into a structure of relations of causal sustaining. The systems theory provides a noncausal, dispositional account of the basing relation. A single, cognitively efficacious state contains all the contents we attribute when we attribute standing or "background" beliefs. These contents do not participate in relations of causal sustaining with each other. Nevertheless, we can make sense of the claim that some contents are based on others as reasons. The basing relation is understood in terms of counterfactual dependencies; or more generally, it is understood as a dispositional property. Counterfactual dependencies do not necessarily reflect the presence of causal relations. They may instead reflect our conceptual tools for organizing certain kinds of possibilities--possible ways that our public and cognitive behaviors might be. In the end, I argue for a "mixed" theory. If we claim that sententialism is true across the board, we encounter a serious objection: the problem of congestion. But if we claim that the systems theory is a theory of all intentional properties, we will be hard-pressed to say how the systems theory explains inferential activity and occurrent belief. The best solution is to admit that in the case of occurrent thought, sententialism is the best theory of belief states and the relations between them; while the systems theory accounts nicely for nonoccurrent thought and the basing relation between nonoccurrent contents. The basing relation is both causal and noncausal; it depends on what sort of beliefs you are interested in.
Degree ProgramGraduate College