Russellianism unencumbered

Philosophical Studies 174 (11):2819-2843 (2017)
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Richard Heck, Jr has recently argued against Russellianism about proper names not in the usual way—by appeal to “intuitions” about the truth conditions of “that”-clause belief ascriptions—but by appeal to our need to specify beliefs in a way that reflects their individuation. Since beliefs are individuated by their psychological roles and not their Russellian contents, he argues, Russellianism is precluded in principle from accounting for our ability to specify beliefs in ordinary language. I argue that Heck thus makes things easier for the Russellian. For by framing the issue as one concerning the specificatory powers of ordinary language in general, rather than just of “that”-clause ascriptions, Heck weakens the implications of any claim about the semantics of that one type of belief-specifying locution. I augment this diagnosis with a positive account of the specificatory usefulness, and attested commonness, of (partly or wholly) quotational belief ascriptions, e.g. “Lois believes that ‘Superman’ is at the meeting.” This proposal is not of the usual sort concerning such locutions since it does not involve the (dubious) claim that they are in some way equivalent to “that”-clause ascriptions.

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Mark McCullagh
University of Guelph

Citations of this work

Quotational and other opaque belief reports.Wayne A. Davis - 2021 - Analytic Philosophy 63 (4):213-231.
Quotational reports.Wayne A. Davis - 2022 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (5):1063-1090.

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