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Eliminativism and the Ambiguity of 'Belief'

Steven Horst
Synthese
Vol. 104, No. 1 (Jul., 1995), pp. 123-145
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20117419
Page Count: 23
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Eliminativism and the Ambiguity of 'Belief'
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Abstract

It has recently been claimed (1) that mental states such as beliefs are theoretical entities and (2) that they are therefore, in principle, subject to theoretical elimination if intentional psychology were to be supplanted by a psychology not employing mentalistic notions. Debate over these two issues is seriously hampered by the fact that the key terms 'theoretical' and 'belief' are ambiguous. This article argues that there is only one sense of 'theoretical' that is of use to the eliminativist, and in this sense some kinds of "belief" (dispositional states, infra-conscious states and the Freudian unconscious) are indeed "theoretical" and hence possible candidates for elimination, while others (consciously occurring thoughts like judgements and perceptual Gestalten) are not theoretical and hence not candidates for elimination.

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