MoL-2002-08: What do four-year-olds have in common with Frege?

MoL-2002-08: Counihan, Marian (2002) What do four-year-olds have in common with Frege? [Report]

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False beliefs involve attributing to another the attitude of belief
towards a counterfactual proposition. Here I have considered various
aspects of the attribution of false beliefs: firstly, that it involves
recognition of the possible non-existence or falsity of objects of
thought (objects are objects in the world and propositions
respectively). This is captured by the concept of the intentionality
of the mental. Advancement in false-belief mastery thus may indicate
acquisition of the concept of intentionalty. This can also be
understood as the replacement of an act-object dichotomy with a
tripartate account of experience.
Secondly, studies with deaf children raise the possibility that
linguistic structures play a role in false belief mastery. Using
linguistic criteria devised to ascribe intentionality to sentences,
one may test children's understanding of other aspects of the concept,
such as the failure of substitutivity in mental state
ascriptions. There are also results from the psycholinguistic
literature which suggest that the ability to attribute false beliefs
emerges at the same time as recognition that beliefs can be held with
differing degrees of certainty. This may also indicate sensitivity to
the distinction between epistemic and deontic modalities, something
the literature on this subject has so far not addressed. The late
emergence of false belief attribution may also have to do with the
dual nature of belief: it has traceable perceptual or inferential
origins but nevertheless is distinctly tied to individual perspectives
and thus is subjective. Growing awareness of the former quality of
belief is one of the suggested interpretations of improving
performance on the false belief task.
Thirdly, false belief mastery may rely on skill in reasoning with
counterfactual statements. Research suggests that these two
competencies are highly correlated, but there are aspects of this
proposal which need further elucidation, and which can be elucidated
by discussions in semantic and philosophical literature. For example,
the distinction between degree of speaker belief and hypotheticality
should prove very relevant in interpretations of counterfactual
reasoning tasks. Also, skill on these tasks may be underpinned by
understanding of the nature of mental states, as captured by the
concept of intentionality.

Item Type: Report
Report Nr: MoL-2002-08
Series Name: Master of Logic Thesis (MoL) Series
Year: 2002
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2016 14:38
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2021 23:34

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