Logic and Language

Kyle Hammet-Blumberg (NYU): Beliefs, Desires and Descriptions

Speaker: Kyle Hammet-Blumberg (NYU)
Title: Beliefs, Desires and Descriptions
Time: 16:00 - 17:30
Location: F1.15 @ ILLC
Recently, several theorists have argued that so-called "counterfactual attitudes", e.g. imagining and dreaming, have a two-dimensional structure. In this paper, I provide a novel argument showing that non-counterfactual desire states, e.g. hoping and wanting, have this structure as well. I also explain how this account of desire helps us solve an existing problem involving indefinite descriptions in the scope of desire verbs. On the theory I develop, a subject's desires are intimately related to the content of their beliefs. This is captured by moving to a framework in which desire states relate subjects to propositional objects that have two layers of semantic potential. A subject's beliefs will be represented along one layer, and her desires relative to her beliefs will be represented along another. I make this idea concrete by building on my account of counterfactual wishing, and propose that desire states relate subjects to sets of pairs of worlds, or paired propositions, rather than---as is standardly assumed---sets of worlds.