Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Angela Mendelovici


According to the traditional view, beliefs and desires are mental representations that play particular functional roles. A belief that P is state which represents P and plays the belief-role, while a desire that P is a state which represents that P and plays the desire-role. In this dissertation I argue that the traditional view has trouble accounting for (a) role that belief and desire play in the causal and rational explanation of behaviour and (b) our knowledge of our own conscious, occurrent beliefs and desires. In its place I argue for Pure Attitude Representationalism (PAR), which holds that beliefs and desires are not to be distinguished from one another by their functional role, but instead entirely by their representational content. According to PAR, desires are distinct from beliefs not because they do different things, but because desires represent things as being rewarding. Throughout the three papers that comprise this dissertation I argue that PAR provides a better explanation of (a) and (b).