Onofri [Onofri, A. 2018. ‘The Publicity of Thought.’ Philosophical Quarterly 68 (272): 521–541.] proposes an individuation criterion for thoughts that purports to satisfy both shareability (the notion that different thinkers, or a single thinker at different times, can and generally do think type-identical thoughts) and Frege's constraint (according to which two thoughts are different if it is possible for a rational subject to endorse one while rejecting the other). I argue that his proposal fails to satisfy Frege's constraint. Then I (...) propose a modification to Onofri's proposal to fix the problem. (shrink)
This book is about the idea that some true statements would have been true no matter how the world had turned out, while others could have been false. It develops and defends a version of the idea that we tell the difference between these two types of truths in part by reflecting on the meanings of words. It has often been thought that modal issues—issues about possibility and necessity—are related to issues about meaning. In this book, the author defends the (...) view that the analysis of meaning is not just a preliminary to answering modal questions in philosophy; it is not merely that before we can find out whether something is possible, we need to get clear on what we are talking about. Rather, clarity about meaning often brings with it answers to modal questions. In service of this view, the author analyzes the notion of necessity and develops ideas about linguistic meaning, applying them to several puzzles and problems in philosophy of language. Meaning and Metaphysical Necessity will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in metaphysics, philosophy of language, and philosophical logic. [See my homepage for a sample chapter.]. (shrink)
Among philosophers, Fregeanism and sententialism are widely considered two of the leading theories of the semantics of attitude reports. Among linguists, these approaches have received little recent sustained discussion. This paper aims to bridge this divide. I present a new formal implementation of Fregeanism and sententialism, with the goal of showing that these theories can be developed in sufficient detail and concreteness to be serious competitors to the theories which are more popular among semanticists. I develop a modern treatment of (...) quantifying in for Fregeanism and sententialism, in the style of Heim and Kratzer, and then show how these theories can—somewhat surprisingly—account for “third readings” on the model of the “Standard Solution” from possible-worlds semantics. The resulting Fregean/sententialist proposal has a distinctive attraction: it treats data related to counterfactual attitudes —which have proven challenging to accommodate in the setting of possible worlds semantics—straightforwardly as third readings. (shrink)
I observe that the “concept-generator” theory of Percus and Sauerland (2003), Anand (2006), and Charlow and Sharvit (2014) does not predict an intuitive true interpretation of the sentence “Plato did not believe that Hesperus was Phosphorus”. In response, I present a simple theory of attitude reports which employs a fine-grained semantics for names, according to which names which intuitively name the same thing may have distinct compositional semantic values. This simple theory solves the problem with the concept-generator theory, but, as (...) I go on to show, it has problems of its own. I present three examples which the concept-generator theory can accommodate, but the simple fine-grained theory cannot. These examples motivate the full theory of the paper, which combines the basic ideas behind the concept-generator theory with a fine-grained semantics for names. The examples themselves are of interest independently of my theory: two of them constrain the original concept-generator theory more tightly than previously discussed examples had. (shrink)
In “Real Patterns” Daniel Dennett developed an argument about the reality of beliefs on the basis of an analogy with patterns and noise. Here I develop Dennett’s analogy into an argument for descriptivism, the view that belief reports do no specify belief contents but merely describe what someone believes, and show that this view is also supported by empirical evidence. No description can do justice to the richness and specificity or “noisiness” of what someone believes, and the same belief can (...) be described by different sentences or propositions (which is illustrated by Dennett’s analogy, some Gettier cases, and Frege’s puzzle), but in some contexts some of these competing descriptions are misleading or even false. Faithful (or truthful) description must be guided by a principle (or principles) related to the principle of charity: belief descriptions should not attribute irrationality to the believer or have other kinds of “deviant” implications. (shrink)
This paper concerns Kripke’s puzzle about belief. I have two goals in this paper. The first is to argue that two leading approaches to Kripke’s puzzle, those of Lewis and Chalmers, are inadequate as they stand. Both approaches require the world to supply an object that the relevant intentional attitudes pick out. The problem is that there are cases which, I argue, exhibit the very same puzzling phenomenon in which the world does not supply an object in the required way. (...) The second goal is to draw out a more general lesson about Kripke’s puzzle. I argue that Kripke’s puzzle should be understood as intimately related to a phenomenon known as ‘intentional identity’, and that an adequate account of Kripke’s puzzle should be extensible to cases in which the relevant attitudes are empty. (shrink)
This paper is about compositionality, belief reports, and related issues. I begin by introducing Putnam’s proposal for understanding compositionality, namely that the sense of a sentence is a function of the sense of its parts and of its logical structure (section 1). Both Church and Sellars think that Putnam’s move is superfluous or unnecessary since there is no relevant puzzle to begin with (section 2). I will urge that Putnam is right in thinking that there is indeed a puzzle with (...) a discussion of translation and belief individuation (section 3). Later Salmon (2001/ 2007) reinforces Church’s position, but I will argue that it is still possible to make my case by clarifying the nature of my proposal, i.e., understanding explanations of action from the third-person point of view (section 4). Now, Fine (2007) agrees with Putnam that there is indeed a puzzle to be solved, but he argues that Putnam’s solution of it is problematic, and that his own semantic relationism is a better view. In response to this, I will recast the notion of compositionality based on a certain conception of belief individuation, namely that the semantic content of a sentence is a function of the semantic contents of its parts and of the structure of intensional discourses (sections 3 and 5). Finally the paper will end with a reconsideration of the recalcitrant Kripke’s puzzle about belief (1979/1988), since it might seem to put some pressure on my account. It turns out that my understanding of this puzzle is again different from Fine’s perspective (section 6). (shrink)
Cumming (2008) uses a puzzle about belief ascription to argue against a Millian semantics, and in favor of a semantics on which names are assigned denotations relative to a shiftable variable assignment. I use Cumming's puzzle to showcase the virtues of a rival, broadly Stalnakerian, treatment of attitude ascriptions that safeguards Millianism. I begin by arguing that Cumming's solution seems unable to account for substitutivity data that helps constitute the very puzzle he uses to motivate his account. Once the substitutivity (...) data is acknowledged, the puzzle actually seems to strengthen, rather than weaken, the Millian position. I then argue that the real force of the puzzle is to place special constraints on our accounts of de re belief ascription. To help bring out the nature of those constraints, I connect aspects of Cumming's puzzle to more familiar problems about belief ascription raised by Quine. I then defend three theses making up a skeletal account of de re belief ascription that promises to cope naturally with the variants of Cumming's puzzle, and integrate them into a broader theory of de re intensionality. (shrink)
Gary Ostertag has presented a new puzzle for Russellianism about belief reports. He argues that Russellians do not have the resources to solve this puzzle in terms of pragmatic phenomena. I argue to the contrary that the puzzle can be solved according to Nathan Salmon’s pragmatic account of belief reports, provided that the account is properly understood. Specifically, the puzzle can be solved so long as Salmon’s guises are not identified with sentences.
This book critically examines some widespread views about the semantic phenomenon of reference and the cognitive phenomenon of singular thought. It begins with a defense of the view that neither is tied to a special relation of causal or epistemic acquaintance. It then challenges the alleged semantic rift between definite and indefinite descriptions on the one hand, and names and demonstratives on the other—a division that has been motivated in part by appeals to considerations of acquaintance. Drawing on recent work (...) in semantics, the book explores a more unified account of all four types of expression, according to which none of them paradigmatically fits the profile of a referential term. On the proposed framework, all four involve existential quantification but admit of uses that exhibit many of the traits associated with reference—a phenomenon that is due to the presence of what we call a ‘singular restriction’ on the existentially quantified domain. The book concludes by drawing out some implications of the proposed semantic picture for the traditional categories of reference and singular thought. (shrink)
In this paper, I investigate the prospects for using the distinction between rejection and denial to resolve Saul Kripke’s puzzle about belief. One puzzle Kripke presents in A Puzzle About Belief poses what would have seemed a fairly straightforward question about the beliefs of the bilingual Pierre, who is disposed to sincerely and reflectively assent to the French sentence Londres est jolie, but not to the English sentence London is pretty, both of which he understands perfectly well. The question to (...) be answered is whether Pierre believes that London is pretty, and Kripke argues, of each answer, that it is unacceptable. On my proposal, either answer to the question is to be rejected, but neither answer is to be denied, using the resource of partially-defined predicates. After demonstrating how this serves as a solution to the puzzle, I illustrate some philosophical motivations—independent of Kripke’s puzzle —for adopting a view on which belief is a partially defined predicate. I conclude that there are decent prospects for the proposed response to Kripke’s puzzle. (shrink)
I will argue for localism about credal assignments: the view that credal assignments are well-defined only relative to suitably constrained sets of possibilities. I will motivate the position by suggesting that it is the best way of addressing a puzzle devised by Roger White.
In a well-known story constructed by Saul Kripke , Pierre, a rational but monolingual Frenchman who has never visited England, acquires, on the evidence of many magazine pictures of London, the belief that London is beautiful. He is happy to declare ‘Londres est jolie’. Pierre eventually moves to England and settles in one of the seedier areas of London, travelling only to comparably shabby neighbourhoods. He learns English by immersion, though he does not realize that ‘London’ and ‘Londres’ are co-referential. (...) Naturally enough, given his current circumstances, he acquires a belief that he is only too willing to express by uttering ‘It is not the case that London is beautiful’. So apparently he now holds contradictory beliefs. But rational people do not hold contradictory beliefs ….One popular response to Kripke's puzzle is that people …. (shrink)
In his famous 1979 article 'A Puzzle About Belief' Saul Kripke presents two puzzles regarding belief attribution, and he uses them to cast doubt on classical substitution arguments against the Millian view that a proper name has a 'denotation' (or reference) but no 'connotation' (or sense). In this article, I present Kripke's puzzles in what I take to be their most revealing form, discuss their relevance to the abovementioned arguments, briefly survey the ways in which philosophers have responded to these (...) puzzles, and call attention to some issues related to the puzzles that have yet to receive the consideration they deserve. (shrink)
Mental content and the problem of De Se belief -- Cognitive attitudes and content -- The doctrine of propositions -- The problem of De Se belief -- The property theory of content -- In favor of the property theory -- Perry's messy shopper and the argument from explanation -- Lewis's case of the two Gods -- Arguments from internalism and physicalism -- An inference to the best explanation -- Alternatives to the property theory -- The triadic view of belief -- (...) How the property theory and the triadic view are rivals -- Dyadic propositionalism reconsidered -- Arguments against the property theory -- Self-ascription and self-awareness -- Nonexistence and impossible contents -- Stalnaker's argument -- Propositionalist arguments from inference -- The property theory and De Re belief -- Lewis's account of De Re belief -- McKay's objection to Lewis -- Mistaken identity and the case of the shy secret admirer -- Some other worries and concluding remarks -- The property theory, rationality, and Kripke's puzzle about belief -- Kripke's puzzle about belief -- The puzzle argument -- A solution to the puzzle -- Puzzles with empty names and kind terms -- The property theory, twin earth, and belief about kinds -- Twin earth and two kinds of internalism -- The twin earth argument -- An internalist response (stage one) -- An internalist response (stage two) -- Self-ascription and belief about kinds. (shrink)
The author presents and defends a general view about belief, and certain attributions of belief, with the intention of providing a solution to Saul Kripke's puzzle about belief. According to the position developed in the paper, there are two senses in which one could be said to have contradictory beliefs. Just one of these senses threatens the rationality of the believer; but Kripke's puzzle concerns only the other one. The general solution is then extended to certain variants of Kripke's original (...) puzzle, which have to do with belief attributions containing empty names and kind terms. (shrink)
Introducing a new and ambitious position in the field, Kit Fine’s _Semantic Relationism_ is a major contribution to the philosophy of language. Written by one of today’s most respected philosophers Argues for a fundamentally new approach to the study of representation in language and thought Proposes that there may be representational relationships between expressions or elements of thought that are not grounded in the intrinsic representational features of the expressions or elements themselves Forms part of the prestigious new _Blackwell/Brown Lectures (...) in Philosophy_ series, based on an ongoing series of lectures by today’s leading philosophers. (shrink)
This paper starts from the familiar premise that psychological anti-individualism is incompatible with materialism. It attempts to state more clearly what this incompatibility consists in, and — rather than arguing in detail for any particular resolution — to inquire whether this incompatibility admits any resolution. However, the paper does offer a conditional argument concerning the possibility that the incompatibility is genuine and cannot be resolved. Provided that anti-individualism and materialism cannot be squared, and anti-individualism is correct, it follows that materialism (...) has to be abandoned. If so, the situation is not as disastrous as it might at first seem. We need not, in consequence of our inability to construe a coherent metaphysics of mind, give up on intentional vocabulary any more than we must stop, in consequence of our inability to make sense of induction, anticipating the future. (shrink)
among philosophers and therefore a short reminder will do. Pierre was a normal speaker of French, before he moved to London and learnt English without ever using any dictionary or similar devices. During his time in France he had heard about London, and because of what he..
(1) The propositions we believe and say are _Russellian_ _propositions_: structured propositions whose basic components are the objects and properties our thoughts and speech acts are about. (2) Many singular terms.
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. (shrink)
This paper gives attention to a special point in Brandom’s Making it Explicit. Brandom proposes in MIE a “Fregean” way out of Kripke’s puzzle about belief. In the first part, I analyze two main features of Brandom’s strategy, the definition of anaphoric chains as senses of proper names and the implausibility of the application of a disquotational principle to proper names. In the second part, I discuss the problem of the stability of contents and the problem of sharing contents. I (...) claim that Brandom’s strong holism leads to irresolvable difficulties with the concept of conceptual content as it emerges from the discussion of Kripke’s puzzle. (shrink)
According to Russellianism (or Millianism), the two sentences ‘Ralph believes George Eliot is a novelist’ and ‘Ralph believes Mary Ann Evans is a novelist’ cannot diverge in truth-value, since they express the same proposition. The problem for the Russellian (or Millian) is that a puzzle of Kaplan’s seems to show that they can diverge in truth-value and that therefore, since the Russellian holds that they express the same proposition, the Russellian view is contradictory. I argue that the standard Russellian appeal (...) to “ways of thinking” or “propositional guises” is not necessary to solve the puzzle. Rather than this retrograde concession to Fregeanism, appeal should be made to second-order belief. The puzzle is solved, and the contradiction avoided, by maintaining that both sentences are indeed true in addition to the sentence ‘Ralph (mistakenly) believes that he does not believe Mary Ann Evans/George Eliot is a novelist’. (shrink)
Referentialism is the view that all there is to the meaning of a singular term is its referent. Referentialism entails Substitutivity, i.e., that co-referring terms are intersubstitutable salva veritate . Frege's Paradox shows that Referentialism is inconsistent given two principles: Disquotation says that if S assents to 'P', then S believes that P, and Consistency says that if S believes that P and that not-P, then S is not fully rational. Kripke's strategy was to save Substitutivity by showing that those (...) intuitively plausible principles already led to paradox. I argue that this generalising strategy fails. The Descriptivist, who thinks that a singular term has descriptive meaning, will reject Substitutivity in Frege's Paradox, and deny that Consistency finds application in Kripke's Paradox. The Referentialist, however, may reject Consistency: if the logical properties of the contents of S's beliefs are not reflectively accessible, then S can hold contradictory beliefs without being irrational. Even if successful against Frege's and Kripke's Paradox, this response is ineffective against a strengthened version of the former which rests on Disquotation and Substitutivity, and a strengthened version of the latter which rests only on Disquotation. (shrink)
These days the two most popular approaches to belief ascription are Millianism and Contextualism. The former approach is inconsistent with the existence of ordinary Frege cases, such as Lois believing that Superman flies while failing to believe that Clark Kent flies. The Millian holds that the only truth-conditionally relevant aspect of a proper name is its referent or extension. Contextualism, as I will define it for the purposes of this essay, includes all theories according to which ascriptions of the form (...) ‘S believes that a is F’ and ‘S believes that b is F’, where ‘a’ and ‘b’ are coreferential proper names, may, depending on the context, differ in truth-value even though in those very contexts each ascription relates the same believer to the very same proposition. What the two theories have in common is the claim that names are Millian. What separates the two theories is what they say about belief contexts. In this essay I prove that Millianism is true, Contextualism is true, or our intuitions regarding belief ascriptions are hopelessly inaccurate. As a consequence, my argument is a proof that either names and many general terms are Millian or our intuitions regarding belief ascriptions are hopelessly inaccurate. (shrink)
In "A Puzzle About Belief" (_Meaning and Use, A. Margalit (ed.), D. Reidel (1979), pp. 239-283), Saul Kripke argues that linguistic moves to all appearances normal in reporting the beliefs of others can be shown to generate paradox. In this paper, I argue that the supposed paradox is one in appearance only, and that the appearance rests on a covert vacillation in Kripke's paper between two conceptions of linguistic understanding, a weak, or 'minimal' one, and a 'strong' one. Only the (...) weak conception allows Kripke to set up the example which allegedly generates the paradox; only the strong allows the actual generation of the paradox. (shrink)
Millianism is reasonable; that is, it is reasonable to think that all there is to the semantic value of a proper name is its referent. But Millianism appears to be undermined by the falsehood of Substitutivity, the principle that interchanging coreferential proper names in an intentional context cannot change the truth value of the resulting belief report. Mary might be perfectly rational in assenting to ‘Twain was a great writer’ as well as ‘Clemens was not a great writer’. Her confusion (...) does not seem to preclude her from assenting to those sentences in a normal, understanding manner. That is, Assent-for-Mary is true: Mary can knowingly assent to ‘Twain was a great writer’ and ‘Clemens was not a great writer’. By Disquotation—the rough principle that if in ordinary circumstances one assents to “P”, then one believes that P—Mary believes that Twain was a great writer and she believes that it’s not the case that Clemens was a great writer. If Substitutivity were true, then since ‘Mary believes that Twain was a great writer’ is true, ‘Mary believes that Clemens was a great writer’ would have to be true too. But then Mary would amount to a refutation of the plausible principle Consistency that, roughly put, no rational adult can have occurrently held and reflectively considered and compared contradictory beliefs. Since Disquotation, Assent-for-Mary, and Consistency are true, Substitutivity has to go. (shrink)
Kripke’s puzzle has puts pressure on the intuitive idea that one can believe that Superman can fly without believing that Clark Kent can fly. If this idea is wrong then many theories of belief and belief ascription are built from faulty data. I argue that part of the proper analysis of Kripke’s puzzle refutes the closure principles that show up in many important arguments in epistemology, e.g., if S is rational and knows that P and that P entails Q, then (...) if she considers these two beliefs and Q, then she is in a position to know that.. (shrink)
In 'A Puzzle about Belief' Saul Kripke appeals to a principle of disquotation that allows us to infer a person's beliefs from the sentences to which she assents (in certain conditions). Kripke relies on this principle in constructing some famous puzzle cases, which he uses to defend the Millian view that the sole semantic function of a proper name is to refer to its bearer. The examples are meant to undermine the anti-Millian objection, grounded in traditional Frege-cases, that truth-value is (...) not always maintained when co-referential names are intersubstituted in belief reports. I argue here that our disquotational practice is sensitive to certain shifts in conversational context, and it is only if we overlook these shifts - if we 'misdisquote' - that we can draw the conclusions Kripke wants to draw from his examples. In the wake of this conclusion, I provide a 'contextualist' treatment of Kripke's puzzle cases. I show how this treatment is motivated by certain norms of rationality, and I defend these norms against an intriguing 'anti-Cartesian' theory of mind. Throughout the paper, I develop the larger implications that my treatment of Kripke's argument has for the semantic theory of names and belief reports, and, more generally, for our picture of the relation between linguistic behaviour and our states of mind. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a well-known theory of belief reports from an important objection. The theory is Russellianism, sometimes also called `neo-Russellianism', `Millianism', `the direct reference theory', `the "Fido"-Fido theory', or `the naive theory'. The objection concernssubstitution of co-referring names in belief sentences. Russellianism implies that any two belief sentences, that differ only in containing distinct co-referring names, express the same proposition (in any given context). Since `Hesperus' and `Phosphorus' both refer to the planet Venus, this view implies that (...) all utterances of (1) and.. (shrink)
In this article I offer a three-pronged defense of Millian theories, all of which share the rough idea that all there is to a proper name is its referent, so it has no additional sense. I first give what I believe to be the first correct analysis of Kripke’s puzzle and its anti-Fregean lessons. The main lesson is that the Fregean’s arguments against Millianism and for the existence of semantically relevant senses (that is, individuative elements of propositions or belief contents (...) that are sensitive to our varying personal conceptions of the referents of those elements) are viciously circular. Thus, the Fregean must give new arguments for her central claims. Second, I offer an original, positive argument for the Millian idea that the thoughts that Cicero was bald and that Tully was bald are identical. Incredibly, the argument appeals to nothing but highly intuitive, pre-theoretical principles regarding folk psychological usage—traditionally the source of Fregean intuitions. Third, I examine one of the most important recent papers on Kripke’s puzzle, that by David Sosa (1996). Sosa claims to have found a way to turn the tables on Kripke’s puzzle by using it to argue against Millian theories. I argue that Sosa’s argument on behalf of the Fregean is question-begging. I conclude that Millian theories can be seriously defended without any use of theoretical constructs such as guises or Russellian propositions, and Fregeans need to start over arguing for their theory’s central claims. (shrink)
Saul Kripke's puzzle about belief demonstrates the lack of soundness of the traditional argument for the Fregean fundamental principle that the sentences 'S believes that a is F' and 'S believes that b is F' can differ in truth value even if a = b. This principle is a crucial premise in the traditional Fregean argument for the existence of semantically relevant senses, individuative elements of beliefs that are sensitive to our varying conceptions of what the beliefs are about. Joseph (...) Owens has offered a new argument for this fundamental principle, one that is not subject to Kripke's criticisms. I argue that even though Owens' argument avoids Kripke's criticisms, it has other flaws. (shrink)