Measurement-Theoretic Accounts of Propositional Attitudes



In the late 1970s and early 1980s a number of philosophers, notably Churchland, Field, Stalnaker, Dennett, and Davidson, began to argue that propositional attitude predicates (such as believes that it’s sunny outside) are a species of measure predicate, analogous in important ways to numerical predicates by which we attribute physical magnitudes (such as mass, length, and temperature). Other philosophers, including myself, have subsequently developed the idea in greater detail. In this paper I sketch the general outlines of measurement-theoretic accounts of propositional attitudes, explaining in the briefest terms the basic idea of such accounts, why some have thought such accounts plausible, how these accounts might go, what their implications might be both for our conception of propositional attitudes and for their role in cognitive scientific theorizing, and where the potential problems with such accounts might lie.