Baltic accent

Current issue

Back to the list Download the article

Attribution of de re propositional attitudes as a means of persuasion



By de re propositional attitude ascription for rhetorical purposes, we will understand ut­tering a modal statement wherein the speaker deliberately uses a description of the attitude’s object which she knows to be unavailable to the attitude holder. As the existence of rhetorical de re is revealed, it gives rise to two questions that will be the primary concern of the present paper. (1) Using a rhetorical de re ascription, does the speaker utter something false in the model-theoretic sense? (2) Would it be justified to classify rhetorical de re as a rhetorical ploy designed to, or naturally predisposed to, mislead the addressee? This paper argues that the first question can be answered positively but the second one should receive a negative answer. We show that the question of whether a certain instance of rhetorical de re is a ploy or act of manipulation should be answered depending not on whether the statement is clearly false for the speaker but on whether it is clearly unacceptable for the speaker. In case the speaker herself considers the argument made by means of the statement acceptable, there is no reason to de­nounce such a communicative act as a ploy or manipulation irrespective of which model-theoretic truth-value the statement has. There are therefore reasons to incorporate rhetorical considerations into the modelling of how attitude reports are interpreted, in addition to con­siderations of truth and epistemological aspects, championed by Frege.


Aloni, M., 2001. Quantification under conceptual covers. PhD thesis. ILLC, Universi­ty of Amsterdam.

Bach, K., 1997. Do Belief Reports Report Beliefs? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 78, pp. 215—241.

Blumberg, K. and Lederman, Н., 2021. Revisionist Reporting. Philosophical Stu­dies, 178, pp. 755—783,

Bowell, T., Cowan, R. and Kemp, G., 2020. Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide. 5th ed. Routledge.

Demirok, Ö., 2019. Scope Theory Revisited: Lessons from pied-piping in wh-questions. PhD thesis. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dolgorukov, V. V., 2015. Logiko-epistemicheskii status pragmaticheskikh ogranichenii: teoretiko-igrovoi podkhod [The Logico-Epistemological Status of Pragmatic Constraints: A Game-Theoretical Approach]. PhD Dissertation. Moscow: Higher School of Eco­nomics (in Russ.).

Egré, P., 2014. Hyperintensionality and De Re Beliefs. In: F. Lihoreau and M. Re­buschi, eds. Epistemology, Context, and Formalism. New York: Springer, pp. 213—243,

Fodor, J. D., 1970. The Linguistic Description of Opaque Contents. PhD thesis. Mas­sachusetts Institute of Technology.

Fraassen, B. van, 1979. Propositional Attitudes in Weak Pragmatics. Studia Logi­ca, 38, pp. 365—374.

Frege, G., 2000. On sense and denotation. In: B. V. Biryukov and Z. A. Kuzicheva, eds. Gottlob Frege. Logika i logicheskaya semantika [Gottlob Frege. Logic and logical se­man­tics]. Moscow, pp. 230—246 (in Russ.).

Frolov, K. G., 2022. On the Bench-Capon Value-Based Argumentation Frame­work. Logiko-filosofskie studii [Logico-Philosophical Studies], 20 (4), pp. 447—455, (in Russ.).

Kaplan, D., 1968. Quantifying in. Synthese, 19, pp. 178—214.

Kripke, S. A., 1980. Naming and Necessity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lewis, D., 1981. Are We Free to Break the Laws? Theoria, 47, pp. 113—121.

Parikh, R., 1998. Propositions, Propositional Attitudes and Belief Revision. In: Ad­vances in Modal Logic. Vol. 2, pp. 381—400.

Percus, O., 2021. Index-Dependence and Embedding. In: D. Gutzmann et al., eds. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Semantics. sem096.

Quine, W. V. O., 1953. Three Grades of Modal Involvement. In: Proceedings of the XIth International Congress of Philosophy. Vol. 14. Amsterdam: North Holland, pp. 65—81.

Quine, W. V. O., 1956. Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes. Journal of Philoso­phy, 53, pp. 177—187.

Russell, B., 1910. Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 11, pp. 108—128.

Salmon, N., 1989. How to Become a Millian Heir. Noûs, 23 (2), pp. 211—220.

Schwager, M., 2009. Speaking of Qualities. In: Proceedings of SALT 19, pp. 395—412,

Schwarz, F., 2012. Situation Pronouns in Determiner Phrases. Natural Language Semantics, 20, pp. 431—475,

Sosa, E., 1970. Propositional Attitudes De Dictu and De Re. Journal of Philoso­phy, 67, pp. 883—896.

Sudo, Y., 2014. On De Re Predicates. In: Proceedings of WCCFL, 31, pp. 447—456.

Tiskin, D., 2016. Conditional Attitude Ascription. Epistemology and Philosophy of Science, 50, pp. 74—93,