Tuesday, November 21, 2006

You are still wrong

Communication seems to go low here.

Sam still thinks all there is here is me being confused with scoping over mental states and non-mental states. I think this is false, and that I just can’t manage to convey the message. So I’ll express it once more, but this time I’ll use Sam’s own claims.

Granted: It is true, as Sam thinks, that scoping over mental states and scoping of non-mental states is a different matter. I agree fully. They are so distinct that we can even quantify over beliefs without quantifying over their content. Example:

(1) There is such thing as Sam’s believe that this is just a scope problem.


(2) There is no such thing as a misuse of scope here.

I also think that quantifying over mental states, in and of itself, is a difficult matter. Furthermore, even though it is distinct from quantifying over non-mental states, the relations between these two quantifications are quite intricate and difficult to understand. What I am aiming at is precisely one of the problematic relations between them. Take, for example, Sam’s last comment. He claims that (5) is incompatible with (6’), but not with (6).

(5) Necessarily I do not believe any houses are red.

(6’) I believe there are red houses.

(6) There are red houses.

Until now I have been presupposing a very obvious law, among the core ones, of Folk Psychology. This obvious law says:

Obvious Law: If S accepts that p, then S believes that p.

This obvious law, has an obvious consequence:

Obvious Consequence of the Obvious Law: If S does not believe that p, S doesn’t accept that p.

And this in turn has another obvious consequence:

Obvious Consequence of the Obvious Consequence: If S cannot believe that p, S cannot accept that p.

Let’s go back to Sam’s claims. As Sam correctly points out, if (5) is true, then (6’) is false. Now, the question is, why is it false? The answer, thanks to our obvious law and its obvious consequences, is that (6’) is false because I cannot believe that there are red houses. But, this is not all of what our obvious laws give to us. Our obvious laws also tell us that if I cannot believe that there are red houses, then I also cannot accept that there are red houses. Thus, I cannot accept that (6) is true.

To sum up, if (5) – a sentence where the scope is over beliefs – is true, then (6’) a sentence about beliefs is not true. However, if (6) – a sentence that does not talk about beliefs – is about that part of the world that (5) – that old sentence scoping over beliefs – tells us we cannot believe in, then (6) is unbelievable, unacceptable, or otherwise incomprehensible for the individual mentioned in (5).

Briefly speaking, if (5) is true, then (6) is unacceptable. If Sam still doesn’t agree with this, I’ll just don’t know what to do.

Communication is going low here.