Date of Award

May 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Peter D van Elswyk

Committee Members

Joshua T Spencer, Matthew E Knachel


Affective attitude, Belief, Lexical semantics, Polysemy, Strength


This paper argues that there are two kinds of cognitive belief, and the word ‘believe’ is polysemous because it semantically expresses both kinds. To have a cognitive belief φ only requires you to take φ to be true. To have a cognitive-affective belief φ requires you to take φ to be true, and to have a trust, confidence, or faith-like attitude toward φ. I provide and analyze linguistic data about how ‘believe’ is used. I then apply my distinction to the recent debate on the strength of belief. I conclude that cognitive-affective belief is stronger than its corresponding cognitive belief since it entails it, but not vice versa.

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