Alief and Explanation



This article critiques the much-discussed notion of alief recently introduced by Tamar Gendler. The narrow goal is to show that the notion is explanatorily unnecessary; the broader goal is to demonstrate the importance of making explicit one's explanatory framework when offering a philosophical account of the mind. After introducing the concept of alief and the examples Gendler characterizes in terms of it, the article examines the explanatory framework within which appeal to such a concept can seem necessary. This framework, it argues, is a generalization of the belief-desire account of action. Although Gendler introduces the notion of alief in an attempt to move beyond the belief-desire account, it argues that she nevertheless works within a generalized version of its explanatory structure. Once the framework is made explicit, we find no explanatory need that requires introducing the notion of alief into our account of the mind.