The ABCs of Belief (guest post by Willie Costello)
Philosophers are used to talking and thinking about beliefs. Nowadays, thanks to the pioneering work of Tamar Gendler, most of us are comfortable talking about aliefs. But that was just the start of the alphabet…
The following is a guest post* by Willie Costello, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Philosophy Department at Stanford University.
The ABCs of Belief
by Willie Costello
1. the generic mental attitude or state of mind of taking to be the case or regarding as true
Philosophers are used to talking and thinking about beliefs. Nowadays, thanks to the pioneering work of Tamar Gendler, most of us are comfortable talking about aliefs. But that was just the start of the alphabet. In the years since Gendler’s article, epistemologists and philosophers of mind have identified a number of new kinds of beliefs and belief-like states. It can all be a bit much to keep up with. What follows is a compendium of the latest terminology in the literature, as a reference guide for the rest of us.
aliefs automatic or habitual belief-like attitudes, esp. ones that are in tension with one’s (explicitly held) beliefs
beliefs (see above)
celiefs visual beliefs (also seeliefs)
deliefs what besires should have been called
e-liefs those things that robots think
ehliefs those things that Canadians think, y’know?
heliefs those things that that guy who’s always mansplaining to you is thinking
Iliefs first-personal beliefs (e.g., ‘Cogito’, ‘Sum’)
meliefs first-personal beliefs, when one does not know that one is speaking of oneself
oliefs beliefs that take a while to come to but eventually finally click (also ooohliefs)
pliefs a conditional belief’s antecedent
qliefs a conditional belief’s consequent
reliefs beliefs that you always feared were false but, phew, turned out to be true
tealiefs prophetic beliefs about one’s future
uliefs second-personal beliefs (e.g., ‘Cogitas’; ‘Es’)
vliefs disjunctive beliefs (cf. &liefs)
weeliefs those things that children think
xliefs beliefs that you previously held and are no longer on good terms with
yliefs beliefs expressing one’s existential angst, nihilism, or general Weltschmerz (also whyliefs)
zliefs beliefs that are behaviorally indistinguishable from ordinary beliefs but lacking in any phenomenological content
There is, of course, no reason to suppose that the above list is complete. Future additions and discoveries can sent to Willie Costello.
 Gendler, T. S. (2008). ‘Alief and belief.’ Journal of Philosophy 105: 634–663.
 Pace Altham, J. (1986). ‘The legacy of emotivism.’ In L. MacDonald and C. Wright (eds.), Fact, Science and Morality, 275–288. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
 See Anscombe, G. E. M. (1975). ‘The first person’. In S. Guttenplan (ed.), Mind and Language, 45–65. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
“deliefs…”. I’m 100% going to start using that.Report
illief – a state of hypochondria.Report
Presumably mapleliefs are the (very large) subset of ehliefs that concern ice hockey.Report
The evidence-responsive and action-guiding states of infants and non-linguistic animals, are, of course, properly known as preliefs.Report
And the belief-like representational states that are shared by groups of several people are weliefs. This could go on forever.Report
sliefs — beliefs you are quite forthright about, or make no effort to hideReport
weedliefs – believes you have when you’re highReport
which are not quite as weird as lsdliefs or quite as loving as xtcleifsReport
*trumpliefs*–devoid of propositional content and indefinitely revisable by expressivist helieved xliefsReport
Thank you, Alan White. What a great new definition. I think this word will rapidly become part of the vocabulary of the population in general. And thank you, too, Willie Costello for the original article and to all the other contributors as well. Can’t wait to start using some of these great new words.Report
Leafliefs. Beliefs about deciduous trees and bushes and their parts, including thin, dorsiventrally flattened organs. Alternatively: beliefs about propositions that we give up on once a year, only to have our credence in them grow anew with the arrival of Spring.Report
Geeliefs: The beliefs of others you find surprising or shocking.
Also Beeliefs, the beliefs of a collective mind, such as a swarm of bees.Report