Knowledge-The and Propositional Attitude Ascriptions

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Determiner phrases embedded under a propositional attitude verb have traditionally been taken to denote answers to implicit questions. For example, 'the capital of Vermont' as it occurs in 'John knows the capital of Vermont' has been thought to denote the proposition which answers the implicit question 'what is the capital of Vermont?' Thus, where 'know' is treated as a propositional attitude verb rather than an acquaintance verb, 'John knows the capital of Vermont' is true iff John knows that Montpelier is the capital of Vermont. The traditional view lost its popularity long ago, because it was thought to rest on the controversial assumption that determiner phases embedded under a propositional attitude verb function semantically in the same way as the corresponding wh-clauses. Here we defend the traditional assumption against objections. We then argue that wh-clauses are not to be given a uniform treatment as indirect questions. When occurring under a propositional attitude verb, wh-clauses are better treated as having a predicate-type semantic value. We conclude by considering some possible objections to the predicate view.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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