A Puzzle about Disbelief

Journal of Philosophy 102 (11):573-93 (2005)
Abstract
According to the naive theory of belief reports, our intuition that “Lois believes that Kent flies” is false results from our mistakenly identifying what this sentence implicates, which is false, with what it says, which is true. Whatever the merits of this proposal, it is here argued that the naive theory’s analysis of negative belief reports—sentences such as “Lois doesn't believe that Kent flies”—gives rise to equally problematic clashes with intuition, but that in this case no “pragmatic” explanation is available. In particular, it is argued that there are situations at which, although “Lois believes that Superman flies” and “Lois doesn't believe that Kent flies” appear consistent, a speaker must contradict himself when he utters both. It is also argued that the hidden-indexical theory of belief reports—which otherwise respects our ordinary intuitions regarding belief reports—similarly fails to explain this intuition.
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