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Journal Article

Intentionalism, Intentionality, and Reporting Beliefs

Branko Mitrović
History and Theory
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Oct., 2009), pp. 180-198
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25621415
Page Count: 19
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Intentionalism, Intentionality, and Reporting Beliefs
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Abstract

The dominant view of twentieth-century analytic philosophy has been that all thinking is always in a language, that languages are vehicles of thought. The same view has been widespread in continental philosophy as well. In recent decades, however, the opposite view—that languages serve merely to express language-independent thought-contents or propositions—has been more widely accepted. The debate has a direct equivalent in the philosophy of history: when historians report the beliefs of historical figures, do they report the sentences or propositions that these historical figures believed to be true or false? In this paper I argue in favor of the latter, intentionalist, view. My arguments center mostly on the problems with translation that are likely to arise when a historian reports the beliefs of historical figures who expressed them in a language other than the one in which the historian is writing. In discussing these problems the paper presents an application of John Searle's theory of intentionality to the philosophy of history.

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