from day 08/02/2020

How relevant to the psychology of mindreading is knowledge-first epistemology?

Some epistemic mental states with propositional content (e.g. knowing, perceiving, remembering) are commonly said to be factive on the grounds that one cannot know, see, hear or remember what is not a fact. Others (e.g. believing, thinking, guessing, suspecting) are commonly said to be non-factive on the grounds that one’s beliefs, thoughts, guesses and suspicions need not map onto facts. In short, unlike belief attribution (e.g. ‘Mara believes that it is raining’), the attribution of knowledge (e.g. ‘Mara knows that it is raining’) presupposes the truth of its embedded clause (‘it is raining’). One of the linguistic criteria taken to demonstrate the factivity of knowledge is that generally (if not in every case) the transformation of a knowledge attribution (e.g. ‘Mara knows that it is raining’) into the corresponding question (e.g. ‘Does Mara know that it is raining?’) preserves the presupposition of the truth of the embedded clause (‘it is raining’). One thorny and controversial issue is whether factivity is best construed as being primarily a property of verbs standing for some psychological states or a property of the psychological states themselves.

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