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Journal Article

Understanding and Belief

David Hunter
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Vol. 58, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), pp. 559-580
DOI: 10.2307/2653756
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2653756
Page Count: 22
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Understanding and Belief
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Abstract

A natural view is that linguistic understanding is a source of justification or evidence: that beliefs about the meaning of a text or speech act are prima facie justified when based on states of understanding. Neglect of this view is largely due to the widely held assumption that understanding a text or speech act consists in knowledge or belief. It is argued that this assumption rests, in part, on confusing occurrent states of understanding and dispositions to understand. It is then argued that occurrent states of understanding are not states of belief of knowledge since a subject may fail to believe that a text or speech act means what she understands it to mean if she doubts the reliability or truthfulness of that understanding. States of understanding, it is maintained, belong in the same epistemic category as states of perception and memory.

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