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Igal Kvart

Kripke’s Belief Puzzle Revisited

Section 1: Introduction. Kripke’s puzzle about belief1 is an attempt to defend the

Millian thesis, viz., that the sole linguistic function of a proper name is to provide its referent. The

thesis is innocuous in extensional contexts; in modal contexts, it amounts to the obliteration of the

distinction between the de dicto and the de re readings regarding proper names. Yet this latter

conclusion follows also from Kripke’s famous thesis that proper name’s are rigid designators,

which has been widely accepted. But in the contexts of attitudinal ascriptions, on the de dicto

reading (which is the only reading discussed by Kripke in his paper and in this paper), it is well-

known that proper names are not substitutable salva veritate (in the scope of the intensional

operator), contrary, it seems, to the Millian thesis.

Kripke argues that substitutivity in belief contexts on the basis of the Millian thesis requires a

reliance also on certain normal practices regarding the use of the notion of belief, of which he lists

three (see below). He then presents his puzzle about Pierre (see below), and argues that, together

with these normal practices, it leads to paradoxical results. In particular, it leads to a straightforward

contradiction, as well as to the paradoxical result that Pierre is inconsistent. Kripke’s defense of the

Millian thesis consists in arguing that the Millian thesis doesn’t lead to unacceptable consequences

by itself, but only together with the normal practices concerning the notion of belief, whereas the

latter lead to paradoxical results all by themselves, that is, without recourse to the Millian thesis.

Hence the fault doesn’t lie with the Millian thesis.

In this paper I argue the following. First, that Kripke’s puzzle leads to the paradoxical results

specified by Kripke only when the normal practices regarding the notion of belief that Kripke lists

are combined with the propositional theory of belief and belief ascription (henceforth: PTB), which

Kripke implicitly relies on. I briefly present an alternative account of belief and belief ascription,

the sentential theory of belief (henceforth: STB). I will then argue that the STB, when combined

with the normal practices regarding belief, doesn’t lead to the paradoxical results that Kripke

presents in his puzzle. The conclusion, I argue, is that it is not the normal practices regarding belief

themselves that are paradoxical or incoherent, but only their employment together with a certain

philosophical doctrine regarding belief (viz., the PTB), whereas their employment together with a

rival philosophical theory (viz., the STB) is innocuous. Hence the conclusion that the normal

practices regarding belief themselves are incoherent and lead to paradox is unwarranted. Rather, the

puzzle points to the paradoxical results that follow from the PTB (together with our normal

practices regarding belief), and thus constitutes a forceful argument against this theory.2

This conclusion does not rely on the truth of the STB, which I have defended elsewhere3 -- only

on its coherence and status as a respectable candidate as an account of beliefs and belief ascription.

This conclusion against the PTB is further buttressed in view of further familiar weighty difficulties

with this theory (e.g., problems with the notion of synonymy, and in particular, with transitivity of

sameness of meaning or translatability4).

Furthermore: the STB yields that belief ascriptions are opaque, since they constitute meta-

linguistic contexts involving quotes and thus in which the content clause is mentioned. This by

itself rehabilitates the Millian thesis, without recourse to Kripke’s complex (and, as I argue below,

wrong) argument that involves his puzzle. The conclusion that belief contexts are opaque applies

not only to proper names, which are the source of Kripke’s concern in his defense of the Millian

thesis, but also to other linguistic items such as definite descriptions, predicates, and singular terms

of all sorts that purport to refer not to people or geographical locations (as do proper names) but to

times, numbers, smells, and others. This opacity thus governs a wider range than the Millian thesis,

and thus constitutes a stronger claim, which is indeed born out, and consequently has stronger

explanatory power. The STB is thus a better candidate to account for the phenomena involved in

belief contexts than the Millian thesis, and implies the Millian thesis regarding belief contexts.

A last remark regarding the Millian thesis: it deals with the linguistic contribution of proper

names, and thus in particular with the content of the sentences in which they occur. But this is one

aspect of the Fregean thesis that proper names have senses. The other aspect is that senses of proper

names determine their referents. Kripke combined his powerful arguments against this Fregean

thesis, in particular in arguing that proper names don’t have senses that fix their referents, with his

causal-communicative account against this aspect of the Fregean thesis. These two aspects of the

Fregean thesis are distinct, and in this paper I concentrate solely on the first. But it is worth

mentioning that I argued against the Kripkean thesis regarding the non-viability of senses of proper

names for the determination of their referents, and in favor of a particular conception of senses that

is, on my view, vital for the determination of the referents of proper names.5

In this paper I first critically discuss Kripke’s three principles that are taken to embody the

normal practices regarding the employment of the notion of belief; I then briefly spell out the STB,

and explain why it doesn’t lead to the paradoxical results that the PTB (via those principles) yield;

and then return to the argument outlined above to the effect that the puzzle leads to the repudiation

of the PTB rather than of the above normal practices and to the conclusion that the Millian thesis

does not need the defense of a presumed incoherence of our normal practices regarding belief in

order to be exonerated from the supposed counter-intuitive consequences of its application in belief


Section 2: Kripke’s disquotation principles. Kripke’s puzzle, in brief, is as follows. It

deals exclusively with the de dicto belief construction, and so will I in the remainder of this paper.6

A normal French speaker comes to appreciate, while in France and speaking only French, the

beauty of London, and thus asserts: Londres est jolie. Later he moves to London, learns English by

the direct method, but doesn’t realize that he is in the city he calls ‘Londres’. In view of his dismal

surroundings, he comes to assert: London is not pretty. It then seems that he is inconsistent,

believing that London is pretty and believing that London is not pretty. But intuitively, he is

consistent, since he need not exhibit any pertinent deficiency of logical acumen. On another

variation of the puzzle, being more cautious in view of his familiarity only with the neighborhood

where he is at, he is only reluctant to assent to ‘London is pretty’, but falls short of being willing to

assent to ‘London is not pretty’. But then, it seems, we are guilty of a contradiction, since it seems

that he doesn’t believes that London is pretty and yet, in view of his beliefs which he formulates in

French, that he believes that London is pretty.


Kripke offers 3 principles that he takes to reflect our normal practices about belief which

underlie the inferences from Pierre’s assent or lack of assent to the de dicto reporting constructions

and which yield the puzzle in its consistency and contradiction variations.

The first, and presumably the most important, is the disquotation principle:

1. “If a normal English speaker, on reflection, sincerely assents to ‘p’, then he believes that p.”

(Ibid, pp. 248-9.)

As will become clear below, I argue that the disquotation principle doesn’t lead to

paradoxes, regardless of whether it is construed as a tautology or not, but only that its combination

with the philosophical theory of the PTB does. If this is the case, then, and if indeed other

philosophical theories (such as the STB) don’t lead to such paradoxes, it would seem, I will argue,

that it is the PTB that should be regarded as the culprit, not the principle of disquotation. If this

conclusion is accepted, whether the principle of disquotation is tautological or not would no longer

have the above repercussions. If, however, as Kripke claims, it alone leads to paradoxical results,

then deductive logic itself (or portions thereof) may be at stake.

This principle raises serious problems and invites modifications. But for the sake of brevity, I

will skip these considerations here.

Section 3: Kripke’s 2 other principles. Let us move now to the second principle, the

strengthened biconditional of the disquotation principle. Kripke formulates it as follows:

2. “A normal speaker who is not reticent will be disposed to sincere reflective assent to ‘p’ iff

he believes that p.” (p. 249)

The novelty in this principle, over and above the disquotation principle, is in the direction

from believing to assenting. In this direction, the principle implies that if a normal speaker who is

not reticent believes that p, then he will be disposed to sincere reflecting assent to ‘p’. But this

surely is not right: it reflects a greatly exaggerated optimistic view of our fellow men, in particular

their honesty and disposition to sincerity. Surely, unfortunately, not a negligible number of normal

speakers who are not reticent are such that they believe that p (for some ‘p’) and yet are disposed to

lie about it, and thus not disposed to sincere reflective assent to ‘p’. This condition is therefore just

wrong. However, the flaw here is not fundamental, since presumably the principle can be

reformulated so as to overcome this flaw as follows:

2’: If a speaker is not reticent and is disposed to sincere reflective assent or dissent regarding

‘p’, then he is disposed to assent to ‘p’ iff he believes that p.

The limitation here, as compared to the original principle, on the case in which believing

implies disposition to assent is necessary for the adequacy of the principle and does not seem to

impinge on the use Kripke makes of it.7

One more wrinkle will help: one may be disposed overall, in general, and yet fail to be so

disposed at a particular time. Thus one may be irritable, disposed to anger, and yet have very short

spells of grace here and there. In order for such a failure in the overall disposition not to hinder this

formulation, it seems best to add a time specification, as follows:

2”: If a speaker is not reticent at time t and is disposed at t to sincere reflective assent or dissent

regarding ‘p’, then he is disposed at t to assent to ‘p’ iff he believes that p (at t).

We move now to the third and last principle, the translation principle:

3. “If a sentence of one language expresses a truth in that language, then a translation of it into

any other language also expresses a truth (in that language).” (p. 250)

Yet this formulation is not right, since it leaves out a crucial ingredient. A bad car is still a

car, and a bad translation is still a translation. Yet a bad translation need not preserves truth. This is

especially obvious if the translation is not good by compromising accuracy. Suppose a sentence in

another language has a literal translation as: the temperature of the water is around 70 degrees; and

suppose that this sentence was translated as: the temperature of the water is 70 degrees. The latter

translation can still qualify as a translation, despite its inaccuracy, although presumably not a very

good translation. Yet this translation will fail to preserve truth if the temperature of the water is,

say, 69.99 degrees. In order to preserve truth, then, a translation must be accurate. Adding this

qualification to the translation principle seems to overcome this problem.8

Section 4: The STB vs. the PTB. On the STB, the basic notion is that of an accepted

sentence. A subject r who speaks a language would have sentential thoughts, some of which he

accepts. The paradigm of sentential thoughts is utterances, or thinking out loud; some of these

utterances are assertions, expressing sentential thoughts the subject accepts, and thus yield beliefs

of his. Yet the thinking activity via such sentential thoughts may take place in a voiceless manner,

without speech, and similarly for the subject’s acceptance of those thoughts.9

I don’t argue that all thinking is in linguistic form, and thus sentential.10 Thinking may take

place through a conceptual rather than linguistic representation, e.g., in cases the subject has

ineffable thoughts. So thoughts in general can be viewed as conceptual representations, a large

portion of which, for a linguistically competent subject, are linguistically represented. I will focus

on the latter due to the access and handle we, as researchers, have on the linguistic vs. the non-

linguistic ones. This limitation will not affect our present concern, namely Kripke’s puzzle about

belief, since the subject, Pierre, in Kripke’s case, is linguistically competent in the pertinent


One of my claims will be that the formal relations that govern a subject’s consistency don’t

hold between propositions he may be said to believe but between the linguistic representations that

are his modes of representing those propositions (assuming we accept the jargon of propositions).

The particular mode in which the subject represents a proposition involves in particular a language

in which he so represents it. There need not be uniqueness here: if the subjects speaks more than

one language, he may have parallel linguistic representations in a couple of languages; but of

course he would not have such linguistic representation in a language he does not speak. Which

linguistic representations the subject has thus, on the one hand, depends on the particular

circumstances, but, on the other, constitutes a pertinent linguistic fact, and can thus be considered as

parts of the context in which he has a belief at a particular time. It will be my claim that such

context dependence, namely dependence on certain features of the linguistic representations the

subject has that express the propositions in question, and in particular the language in which those

representations are formulated, are crucial for the determination of his consistency as a believer, so

long as we deal with beliefs of his. In particular, via which accepted sentences he represents the

pertinent propositions he believes will play a role. I will thus argue that the level of propositions,

when they are considered as the subject’s beliefs, is too crude, too coarse grained, in order to

reflect important features that determine the subject’s consistency. Yet the intuition that the

subject’s consistency resides (at least in part) at the level of formal relations between the subject’s

beliefs is fundamental, and deserves to be preserved if possible. In order to preserve it, I will

therefore consider the subject’s accepted sentences as his beliefs, rather than the propositions they

express. This conception of what beliefs are is thus in part called for in order to allow for the

subject’s consistency to reside in large part at the level of his beliefs.

This reason for considering one’s accepted sentences as his beliefs is not the only motivation.

Elsewhere11 I argued that the phenomenon of speaker reference, and in particular in cases of

reference shift, need not be limited to speech acts, and thus may take place while the subject thinks

but not talks. So the phenomenon of reference (in the sense of speaker’s reference) should be

couched in the subject’s linguistic thoughts, which are often expressed out loud in utterances and

assertions. In the exportation inference (see below) regarding beliefs, which entitles us to infer a de

re belief ascription from a de dicto one, the subject’s accepted sentences play a crucial role. In order

to infer the ascription of a de re belief by the subject, we can rely on his having a particular

accepted sentence. But if we consider, as above, such an accepted sentence as a belief of the

subject, then the exportation inference allows us to infer a de re belief ascription for the subject

from a de dicto one for him, which is the natural way to express the exportation inference. This then

is another motivation for considering the subject’s accepted sentences as beliefs of his.12

There are further motivations. Another one is the argument that, apart from the claim I argue

for here, namely that the level of beliefs construed as propositions is too crude to determine the

subject’s consistency, propositions are not suitable to be considered as the subject’s beliefs since,

for instance, the relation that groups various assertions, say, or accepted sentences more generally,

as expressing the same belief, considered now as a proposition, a relation which may be considered

to be that of synonymy or of adequate paraphrase (see below), presents the following dilemma. If

that ‘sameness of meaning’ relation is so strict that it amounts to absolutely no difference in

meaning, then this relation (if viable) may well be transitive, but the propositions thereby

determined are indeed finely carved. But then they deprive one of major advantages of the

propositional theory, in particular of abstracting from various linguistic representations that are

barely different in terms of content. This aspect is crucial when we want to consider two subjects as

expressing the same proposition, even though they express themselves somewhat differently. It is in

particular important if the subjects speaks different languages, since adequate translation need not

conform to a strict standard of allowing absolutely no difference in shades of meaning. Depriving

the propositional theory from applying to the translation phenomenon is a heavy handicap.

If, on the other hand, we want to accommodate translation, and allow subjects who speak

different languages to be considered as expressing the same proposition, then we must allow the

‘sameness of meaning’ relation, that allow different sentences to express the same proposition, to

accommodate some, however small, differences in shades of meaning, that in general are harmless

for most purposes. However, for the notion of a proposition to be grounded in the relation of

sameness of meaning, which is to govern the various sentences that express the same proposition,

this relation must be an equivalence relation. Otherwise, there are no equivalence classes of

sentences, where such classes correspond to a given proposition all of the members of the class

express. Yet if the relation of sameness of meaning is not absolutely strict, and tolerates minute

differences, then this relation is not transitive, since minute differences can accumulate to a non-

minute one. But in this case there are no equivalence classes of sentences which express a given

proposition, and the very notion of a proposition that relies on the relation of sameness of meaning

between sentences expressing that proposition collapses.

The theory of proposition, then, faces the above dilemma: On one horn of the dilemma, it is

extremely finely carved, and thus escapes the transitivity problem; but then it fails to accomplish

what it was designed to accomplish – to group together different sentences expressing the same

proposition, and in particular in different languages. It then in effect becomes close to a sentential

accounts of beliefs. Otherwise, on the other horn, it allows that minute differences in shades of

meaning are compatible with expressing the same proposition; but then the very notion of

proposition collapses since propositions cannot correspond to equivalent classes of sentences which

express them. The dilemma, then, is that either propositions collapse to something close to the

sentential level, and thus lose much of their advantages, or else they collapse altogether.

For those reasons, among others, I will then adopt the terminology of considering a subject’s

accepted sentences as his beliefs. Yet the reader should bear in mind that at bottom the account and

claims below don’t depend, strictly speaking, on this thesis, though hopefully they would be

considered as strong arguments in favor of it. The reader who opposes this conception of beliefs as

accepted sentences which, I admit, is not widely held, should thus feel at liberty to replace the

notion of belief, as used below, with the notion of accepted sentence, without hindering the course

of the argument.

Section 5: The STB.Given the notion of accepted sentence, considered henceforth a belief of

the subject, we can formulate an analysis of the belief report construction, i.e. the construction: a

subject r believes that p, read here and below on the de dicto reading. This construction will be

interchangeably also called the ascription construction. If the subject and the reporter are English

speakers, and the report as well as a pertinent accepted sentence are in English, we can present the

following truth condition for the reporting construction (where the subject is called r):

r believes that p just in case r has a belief (accepted sentence) ‘q’ which is an adequate

paraphrase of ‘p’.

The crucial notion here is indeed that of adequate paraphrase (for short: ap). This notion is

rooted in the notion of translation. Translation from one language to another may be more or less

adequate: it is a matter of degree, and the adequacy may well also be interest-dependent, depending

on the requisite standard of accuracy of the translation, which may be balanced against other

interests, e.g., elegance of style, rhyming (if poetry is being translated), etc. When two languages

are involved, and a sentence ‘q’ is in language L whereas ‘p’ is in English, then ‘p’ is an ap of ‘q’

(in L) just in case ‘p’ is an adequate translation of ‘q’. Yet translation need not be limited to

different languages: it also applies to dialects and to idiolects. If ‘q’ is a sentence in the dialect or

idiolect of the subject r which r asserts or accepts, then ‘p’ in English, in the dialect or idiolect of

the reporter, may well be an adequate translation of ‘q’ from the dialect or idiolect of the subject to

that of the reporter, in which case they will be ap’s of each other. The notion of ap involves

therefore merely the notion of translation.13

The notion of ap is thus innocuous so long as the notion of translation is not called into

question. In general, the notion of adequate translation seems to be a relation of content similarity.

This is therefore the case as well insofar as the notion of ap is concerned. Content similarity, as the

notion of similarity elsewhere, may well be context-dependent and interest-relative.

The reporting construction regarding belief is similar to the one that governs saying. Consider

the construction: r said: “p”, with the proviso that ‘p’ is in English. Call it the quote construction,

since in that report, r is quoted. Compare it with the reporting construction ‘r said that p’. The

reporting construction is analyzable in terms of the quoting construction, as follows:14

r said that p just in case r said: “q”, where ‘q’ is an ap of ‘p’.

We may accordingly lift the restriction that ‘q’ is in English, and allow that the speaker spoke

another language L, and have:

r said that p just in case r said: “q”, where ‘q’ in L is an ap of ‘p’.

This connection between the quoting construction and the saying reporting construction

seems self-evident. The suggestion is that reporting constructions in general, and specifically the

belief reporting construction, are analogous to the saying reporting construction, where the notion

of accepted sentence, regarding belief, is the analogue of the sentence uttered, regarding saying.

The fact that it is natural to regard the saying reporting construction and the belief reporting

construction as having analogous structures constitutes another motivation for resorting to the

notion of an acceptance sentence (the analogy being now between the sentence uttered and the

accepted sentence).15

Analogously, we can extend the above analysis of the believing construction to allow

different languages as follows:

r believes that p just in case r has a belief (accepted sentence) ‘q’ (in L) which is an ap of ‘p’ (in


This analysis holds of course when translated into languages other than English, mutatis


This analysis is an iff condition. However, for our purposes, it will suffice to rely on the

direction from right to left (i.e., construing the above condition as involving just ‘if’ rather than

‘iff’). However, since it doesn’t seem that the plausibility in the other direction is significantly

lower, I will resort to both directions when convenient.16


The main feature of this analysis of the belief reporting construction is that it is meta-linguistic,

i.e., the sentence ‘p’ which occurs in ‘r believes that p’ is mentioned in the analyzans. This feature

is of considerable importance, regardless of whether the particular form of the analysis presented

here is right. If indeed the right analysis of the belief reporting construction is meta linguistic in that

sense, then it follows that the de dicto reporting construction regarding belief is opaque, as no

substitutivity of coextensional terms is legitimate within quotes. Consequently, no substitutivity

within the scope of the belief locution in the de dicto belief construction is legitimate. This holds

not just for singular terms, whether definite descriptions or proper names, but also for other terms,

such as predicative expression. When it comes to singular terms, it applies not just to terms

purporting to denote objects, but also to terms purporting to denote numbers, times or smells.

In particular, a meta-linguistic analysis of the belief construction absolves Mill’s thesis. Even if

the sole linguistic function of a proper name is to specify its referent, no substitution of

coreferential proper names is allowed in quotes, and thus not in meta linguistic constructions in

general. Hence the failure of substitutivity of proper names in belief reports is not a flaw of the

Millian thesis: it is a special consequence of the meta linguistic character of the de dicto belief

construction, which in general affects not just proper names but other terms as well. Given this

analysis, a defender of the Millian thesis need not resort to attempts to shift the blame from Mill’s

thesis to the normal practices regarding reporting belief, and thus need not resort to Kripke’s puzzle

for that purpose. Given the meta-linguistic character of the reporting construction, substitutivity in

general is illegitimate independently of the puzzle about Pierre and its like. The meta-linguistic

character of de dicto belief reports therefore makes Kripke’s defense of the Millian thesis in terms

of his puzzle otiose.

Section 6: Assessor dependence and epistemic autonomy. What are then the truth

conditions for a belief ascription of the form ‘r believes that p’? (I’ll abbreviate it as ‘Bp’.) I have

argued that The truth maker of such a belief ascription is the subject’s having a an appropriate

belief. An appropriate belief is one that must be appropriately related to the sentence ‘p’ that forms

the content clause of Bp. For such a belief ‘q’ to be appropriately related to ‘p’, the ap relation must

hold between ‘q’ and ‘p’.


But there need not be a unique ap relation. In fact, the ap relation varies with context and

interest. When a casual conversation is involved, lax criteria for ap may do. But when there is a

need for precision, and the cost of imprecision is high, stiffer standards for ap are called for, as, e.g.,

in cross examination in court, or in a libel suite. As noted above, the ap relation governs inter-

language translation as well as intra-language translation, and the ascriptive constructions of belief

and the other sentential attitudes such as knowing that, seeing that, remembering that, doubting that,

etc. are governed by the ap relation.

But who determines the ap relation for a given belief ascription? It is clearly not the subject.

The subject contributes to the semantical features of a belief ascription of which he is the subject

only his own beliefs, and none of them need be the same as the content clause, as is evident in the

case of translation, but also in case of intra-language reporting (the subject may, e.g., lack

terminology employed by the ascriber in the content clause). Belief ascriptions therefore violate

epistemic autonomy: their truth value does not depend entirely on the subject himself or on his own

internal epistemic state. Identical subjects, molecule by molecule, with the same history, and with

the same linguistic community, may be reported by the same belief ascription, i.e., with the same

content clause, but with different truth values. The truth values may be different if different ap

relations, i.e., different standards for ap, are employed in the two different occasions. An ascription

may pass for true in a casual, inconsequential conversation, but be rejected as false by the subject

himself (when there are no linguistic competence gaps on his part), e.g. in a media interview that is

important for the record, or in a court interrogation. But in the latter case the subject plays the

double role of a subject as well as an ascriber, and it’s the latter role, that of an ascriber, that entitles

him to weigh in favor of one standard rather than another for the ap relation. Thus, the subject, qua

subject, plays no role whatsoever in determining the ap relation involved in a belief ascription of

which he is the subject, and therefore belief ascriptions do not convey the epistemic picture of the

subject ‘from within’, from a internalist perspective (in a sufficiently limited sense of ‘internalist’):

the very use of the belief ascription construction adds an externalist element to its truth condition.

The subject’s epistemic autonomy is not therefore fully respected in belief ascriptions, even when

they are true, but is being transgressed by adding an externalist standard.


But who determines the standard? Is it the ascriber? Or the context? And don’t belief

ascriptions have truth values apart from context and ascriber? It is quite evident that the truth value

of a belief ascription varies from context to context, as noted above. But what determines the

contextual contribution? Here we must shift our terminology and talk about the truth values of

belief ascriptions that are assertions, not just sentences. The assertor, i.e., the ascriber, is the one

who determines the standard that underlies the truth value of his assertion. Context may influence

him, or it may not: a speaker may play along accommodating expectations conferred by the context

and go along and employ a standard that is employed by the other interlocutors (he may be

‘cooperative’). But he need not: he may insist on using his own standard. This may not be terribly

cooperative, and may incur some bad marks regarding conversational etiquette; but what

determines the truth value of the ascriber’s ascription is the standard he employs in making the

ascription, even if they don’t jibe with the clues of the context. True, typically speakers

accommodate their interlocutor and reach some sort of equilibrium regarding the standards

employed. But not always; and when this doesn’t happen, there is some sort of a breakdown of

communication. And since typically this is not the case, one can expect that conversational clues,

on the part of the interlocutors, would serve to fix the standard employed by a given assertor. But

these clues are no more than indicators, or precursors, of the ascriber’s standard: they serve as

evidence regarding the standard he uses. But he need not play by the rules and in accordance with

the expectations, and it is the standard he employs that determines the truth value of his assertion.

The fixing of the ap standard is an ascriber privilege, and it is the standard he employs that enters

into the truth conditions of his assertion.

And indeed, ascriptions need not be assertions. Ascriptions can be contemplated, pondered, in a

context as well as outside of any conversational context: the ascriber need not be in any particular

conversational setting when he makes a belief ascription: he can do so on his own, alone. And he

need not even make an ascription for his contemplation of the ascription to have a truth value: even

if he merely contemplates it, alone, on his own, the contemplated ascriptive thought may well have

a truth value, partly fixed by the ap standards that he determines.


So belief ascriptions don’t respect the epistemic autonomy of the subject. But must they be

ascriber relative, then? It may seem so, since the ap standard of belief ascriptive assertions or

contemplated assertions is determined by the assessor, be it the ascriber or the one who

contemplates the ascription. But this is so only insofar as assertions are concerned, or even

contemplations, which need not be speech acts, but by merely thought tokens. Contemplations of

belief ascriptions can have a truth value without an assertion being made, loudly or silently, with or

without an audience, with the ap standard being determined by the assessor. But the ascription

sentence can have a truth value independently of any ascriber. We noted that ascriptions don’t

require an ascriber for them to have a truth value, since they may be merely contemplated and still

have a truth value. But belief ascriptions may be true without an ascriber and without any

interactive or even non-interactive context (apart from what it takes to fix the semantic values of

elements in the content clause – but our discussion here focuses on the context dependence of the

belief operator, not of the content clause). It may simply be true that Moses believed that God is

speaking to him from the bush, without anyone making the ascription, without any audience, or

without any context (over and above what’s needed to fix the reference of ‘Moses’). This may be so

in two types of cases: the first, the primary one, is when the subject’s idiolect and the dialect in

which the ascription is formulated are the same in relevant respects (i.e., the ones that concern items

that appear in the context clause), and the content clause is a belief of the subject. Then no ap

standard is required: ascriptions of this sort therefore do not require an assessor, and do respect the

epistemic autonomy of the subject. If the subject self-ascribes, and this self ascription is converted

into an idempotent 3rd person ascription, i.e., with the very same content clause, when the ascription

is in a dialect (or an idiolect of an ascriber) that is identical in relevant respects to that of the

subject, then the 3rd person ascription is true iff the 1st person ascription was true: no ap standard is

called for, and the subject’s epistemic autonomy is respected. This is since the truth maker of the

belief ascription, i.e., the sentential belief itself, is displayed in the belief ascription.

But when this is not the case, when the content clause is not a belief of the subject, and when

the dialect in which the ascription is made is not identical in relevant respects to the idiolect of the

subject at the time of the belief in question, then ap standards must enter the picture, with a

violation of the epistemic autonomy of the subject. But there need not be an ascriber who

contributes this standard: the ascription may be true qua a sentence in a dialect without any ascriber

or any contemplative act, but relative to a fixed standard of ap (again, here and below, apart from

what it takes to fix the believer). Thus, one may consider an ap standard, fixed abstractly; a belief

ascription may be true relative to it. So when the subject’s autonomy is respected, no ascriber is

needed to fix the truth value of the belief ascription. But even when the subject’s autonomy is not

respected, an ascriber is dispensable for determining the truth value of a belief ascription: she

makes a contribution to fixing the truth value of her assertion, when there is one, or of her

contemplative token; but the presence of an ascriber is not necessary at all for fixing the truth value

of the belief ascription sentence. This is so so long as an ap standard has been fixed. So belief

ascription sentences can be true relative to an ap standard without ascribers. The role of the

ascriber, therefore, is dispensable regarding the truth conditions of belief ascriptions: they may be

true or false without any contemplator, let alone an ascriber, so long as an ap standard is relativized

to, in particular when the belief involved is not displayed.

Section 7: The inconsistency variation. Consider now Kripke’s puzzle in the variation

involving the consistency of the believer. Kripke assumes, as it is indeed generally assumed, that a

believer r is inconsistent if r believes that p and r believes that not-p. This is rooted in the

compelling feature that a subject r is inconsistent just in case r has contradictory beliefs. If one

assumes that, given that r believes that p and that r believes that not-p, r has the contradictory

beliefs that p and that not p, r will be deemed indeed inconsistent. But this moves presupposes that

r has the belief that p and the belief that not p, where the that clauses specify his beliefs rather than

merely classify them in one form or another. This is indeed the case if one adopts the PTB, on

which the relative clause ‘that p’ specifies the belief in question, which is the proposition that p. But

this will not be the case if the construction ‘r believes that p’ merely classifies r’s belief as being of

a certain form, rather than specifying or determining it. If beliefs are propositions, then it is logical

relations between the propositions that constitute r’s beliefs that govern r’s consistency. If,

however, the content clauses merely classify the subject’s beliefs, and if indeed it is logical

relations between r’s beliefs that govern r’s consistency, then it is insufficient to consider solely the

logical relations between the propositions involved, the ones expressed by the content clauses, to

determine r’s consistency: one has to consider r’s beliefs themselves. But on the STB, those beliefs

are not displayed by the reporting construction. It is therefore, on the STB, a mistake to conclude

from the contradiction between the propositions specified by the relative clauses that the subject’s

beliefs are inconsistent. Thus, the conclusion that Pierre is inconsistent relies on a tacit endorsement

of the PTB.17

And indeed, on the STB, the beliefs involved are the sentences ‘London is not pretty’ (in

English) and ‘Londres est jolie’ (in French). But there is no formal relation of inconsistency

between these two sentences. If however, we supplement r’s beliefs by the identity belief:

‘London’ (in English) designates the same place as (or translates) ‘Londres’ (in French), then we

come very close to a formal inconsistency. But Pierre does not have the identity belief. Since he

doesn’t, no formal charge of inconsistency between his beliefs (construed as accepted sentences)

can be leveled against him. The logical notion of inconsistency is indeed a formal relation.

Consequently, it is central to the notion of a subject’s inconsistency that it lies at formal features of

his beliefs. But since clearly, intuitively, Pierre is consistent, this formal character of the notion of

the subject’s consistency can be preserved on the STB, since Pierre’s beliefs, now construed as

accepted sentences, exhibit no formal inconsistency; but this formal character does not cohere with

the PTB, since Pierre’s beliefs, now construed as the propositions expressed by the content clauses,

do exhibit formal inconsistency. The Puzzle about belief, in the inconsistency variation, is therefore

a puzzle only if one presupposes the PTB, but not if one endorses another philosophical theory,

such as the STB. If one is to recognize that Pierre is not inconsistent, which is obvious since no

logical acumen that he may have can pinpoint a logical problem regarding his beliefs in question,

and yet not relinquish the formal character of a subject’s consistency, one must then abandon the

philosophical theory of the PTB.18

Note that to conclude that Pierre is consistent, as indeed he is, is not to imply that there is

nothing wrong with his beliefs. His beliefs are indeed incongruent; but incongruence is not

inconsistency. Beliefs are incongruent so long the adoption of another true belief, which r doesn’t

have, would render him inconsistent. In our case, it is of course the co-designation or identity

belief, namely that ‘London’ (in English) is a name of the same city as ‘Londres’ (in French). A

consistent believer must not tolerate inconsistent beliefs; and Pierre is indeed not guilty of

inconsistency in his pertinent beliefs. But a believer who possesses incongruent beliefs must, if he

is to adopt the co-designation belief, give up one or another of his former beliefs if he is to remain

consistent. A believer with incongruent beliefs may remain consistent only so long as he is ignorant

of certain facts.

One main advantage of the theory of propositions is the ability to abstract from the context

of utterance. Indexicals and other context-dependent locutions can be replaced by others without

affecting the proposition expressed, and be amenable to formal operations that abstract from the

context in question. However, as evidenced by the above considerations, the language in which the

subject expresses his beliefs (and even, as we shall see below, the very words of which those beliefs

consist) is a crucial feature underlying his consistency (even though recognition of this feature need

not lead to trouble on a prevalent scale). The language in which the subject’s beliefs, construed as

propositions, are expressed, may vary from time to time and from context to context, is a feature of

the context, in a broad construal of this notion, or more specifically a feature of the mode in which

these propositions were apprehended or represented and endorsed by the subject, that is, a function

of their mode of presentation. It is a feature of the linguistic context in the sense that the same

belief, construed now as a proposition, is not sensitive to it, but that any manifestation of it in a

sentential form must have it. The language in question is not extractable from the propositions

involved. The consistency of the subject is therefore a function of the mode of presentation of the

beliefs involved. This goes without saying when the STB is concerned, since the language in which

the belief is represented and endorsed as such is a feature of the belief itself under that theory. But it

follows that an adequate account of the subject’s consistency cannot reside entirely on the

propositional level. If the mode in which the proposition was apprehended and endorsed as such is

considered part of the context (in the broad sense) in which the subject had the belief in question,

then the logical feature of the subject’s consistency cannot be abstracted from the context, in this

specific sense. The abstraction from context dependence, heralded as a major virtue of the theory of

propositions, is thus a handicap when the PTB is concerned, in particular vis-à-vis the issue of a

subject’s consistency. In order not to give up the dependence on the formal character of the

subject’s beliefs as a guide to his consistency, then, the PTB, in its standard form, must be

abandoned. As illustrated by the STB, this philosophical theory, the PTB, have rivals -- other

philosophical theories, which need not have the same handicap.

Section 8: The contradiction variation. I now move to the contradiction problem.

Based on the principles 1 and 3 above of normal practices regarding the notion of belief, Kripke

concludes that Pierre believes that London is pretty. And indeed, since Pierre assents, sincerely and

reflectively, to ‘London est Jolie’, the latter is an accepted sentence of Pierre’s (in French) and thus

is a belief of his. Hence, according the analysis of the reporting construction according to the STB,

indeed Pierre believes that London is pretty.

However, Kripke also concludes that it is not the case the Pierre believes that London is

pretty, taking into account now also the second principle, the biconditional. This he concludes on

the basis of Pierre’s refusal to assent to ‘London is pretty’. A key move of the PTB is to group

together distinct sentences that don’t differ in content (or at least not significantly) as expressing the

same proposition. In certain respects, as noted, this move is an advantage of the PTB, in allowing to

abstract from a specific linguistic representation and specific syntactic forms. It is thus natural for

the PTB to ignore the differences between different sentences expressing the same proposition. But

this move holds water only if the differences between the various modes of representation of the

proposition involved don’t make a difference to the concern at hand. If this holds in the case under

consideration, a verbal response to a given mode of representation expressing a particular

proposition can be expected to yield the pertinent attitude to that proposition, since the attitude is

not supposed to depend on the mode of representation. To conclude therefore that Pierre doesn’t

believe that p on the basis of his reluctance to assent to p is therefore a natural conclusion of the

PTB. This conclusion underlies the biconditional principle.

However, the error reflected in Kripke’s puzzle is that attitudes of a subject may differ

depending on the sentence involved, and thus are not uniform for different sentences expressing the

same proposition. Consequently, since the assumption of uniformity need not hold, a conclusion

based on it and on a verbal response to a particular mode of representation need not carry through

since it may be incongruent with verbal responses (or dispositions to verbal responses) to other

sentences expressing the same proposition. When there is no uniformity, the verbal response

associated with one mode of representation need not be common to others that express the same

proposition. But the reliance on a reluctance to assent to one mode of representation (viz., a

particular sentence) as reflecting an attitude towards the proposition expressed, namely, the

conclusion that the proposition expressed is not being a belief of the subject, which is tantamount

on the PTB to the subject’s not believing that p, reflects an unwarranted assumption regarding the

insignificance of which mode of presentation is invoked, and thus on an unwarranted assumption of

the uniformity in relevant respects of the different modes of presentation. This, then, is a mistaken

presupposition of the PTB.

If different sentences yield different verbal responses, a judicious decision needs to be made

as to whether a particular one, and if so, which one, must be respected. On the STB, a particular

sentence’s being a belief of r’s yields the respective reporting construction. That is, one sentential

belief is sufficient to yield the corresponding belief report. But this implies that the failure of

another candidate to be a belief of r’s, despite being an ap of ‘p’, is not sufficient to undermine the

belief report. The belief report is true provided there is a belief that is an ap of the content clause.

The failure of an ap of the content clause to be a belief of r’s doesn’t entail that there is no other

belief of r’s that is an ap of the content clause. It is thus a mistake to conclude from Pierre’s

reluctance to assent to ‘p’ that Pierre doesn’t believe that p, since another belief of Pierre’s may

suffice to yield the conclusion that Pierre does believe that p. And indeed, in our case, this is so:

despite Pierre’s reluctance to assent to ‘London is pretty’, he nevertheless assents to ‘Londres est

jolie’, which suffices to underwrite the ascription to the effect that he believes that p. The

biconditional principle is thus false.

But this biconditional principle is crucial for the conclusion that there is a contradiction.

Consequently, the false biconditional principle, which is rooted in an implicit resort to the PTB, no

longer warrants the inference to the contradictory conclusion that Pierre believes that p and that he

doesn’t believe that p. The inference to the contradiction is therefore undercut.


I have thus tried to show that in both variations of the puzzle, the inconsistency version and the

contradiction version, there is an implicit reliance on the PTB, and I have tried to argue that the

PTB fails in various ways, and in particular in respects that are crucial to its employment in the

paradoxical results that Kripke draws. On the other hand, I have argued, the alternative

philosophical theory, the STB, does not lead to such paradoxical results.

Elsehwere19 I have discussed the Hesperus-Phosphorus problem, as raising parallel problems to

Kripke’s belief puzzle on the de re level; namely, on the one hand, the problem of the subject’s

inconsistency and, on the other, an outright contradiction. I will not present these problems and

their resolutions here once again. I will, however, note that I have attempted to show that if one

accepts the STB and an account of exportation whereby the missing premise is that the subject

refers by the singular term involved, these two problems are resolved. Their resolution is parallel to

the resolution above of these two problems on the de dicto level. Even though the resolution of

these problems on the de re level requires a resort to the exportation inference, which is not needed

on the de dicto level, the fact that these two problems can be resolved by similar moves and by

bringing out similar features of the two belief reporting constructions, the de dicto belief reporting

construction as well as the de re belief reporting construction, brings out a common structure and

uniformity of the belief reporting construction on the de dicto as well as on the de re levels, which, I

suggest, vindicates such a common treatment separately on each level.

Section 9: Conclusions. On the STB, the belief ascription construction is a

relation between the subject and the sentence in the content clause. This feature of it is all that is

needed in order to spare the Millian account from the counter-intuitive results of its application in

belief contexts. If indeed the content clause in a belief attribution is mentioned, there is no viable

substitutivity of proper names in it or, for that matter, of any other term in it: de dicto belief

contexts are thus opaque. The Millian thesis does not entail the substitutivity of proper names

within quotes. Hence any meta-linguistic account of the belief attribution construction, in

particular, the STB, absolves the Millian thesis from applicability to attitudinal contexts. Thus, the

adoption of any a meta linguistic conception of belief attributions, and in particular, the STB, would

make Kripke’s move in presenting his puzzle, whose purpose is to defend the Millian thesis,

unnecessary. Kripke’s intent was to blame the counter intuitive consequences of substitutivity in

belief contexts on the combination of the Millian thesis together with the 3 principles of the normal

practices regarding belief. The adoption of a meta linguistic account therefore makes the puzzle

about belief otiose insofar as the viability of the Millian thesis is concerned.

In sections 1, 7 and 8, I argued that the two paradoxical consequences of the puzzle about

belief, namely, the inconsistency of Pierre and the contradiction in our attributions, are made

plausible by an implicit commitment to the PTB. I then argued, in sections 5, 7 and 8, that with the

STB, neither of these two consequences follow. The second principle, the biconditional, I argued, is

false, and any prima facie plausibility it has is derived from an implicit reliance on a false

philosophical theory – the PTB. With this mistake removed, we are left with principles 1 and 3 as

underlying our normal practices regarding belief. From the result that with the STB no paradoxical

consequence ensues, it follows that our normal practices regarding belief, and in particular the

correct principles that underlie them (i.e., principles 1 and 320) are innocent of any paradoxical or

incoherent character insofar as such consequences of the puzzle about belief are concerned: If such

practices as embodied in those principles, coupled with another theory, lead to no paradoxical

results in a certain domain, then neither one is incoherent or paradoxical regarding that domain, in

particular not the normal practices regarding the notion of belief, captured by the disquotation and

translation principles. For this conclusion, that these two principles are free of the paradoxical

character that Kripke attributes to them, we need not assume that the STB is correct, only that it is

coherent. The point then that Kripke is mistaken in attributing an incoherent character to these

principles does not depend on the viability of the STB, only on its coherence.

This conclusion lends major weight to the conclusion that the culprit in Kripke’s puzzle is

not our normal practices regarding belief but rather the PTB. Without the recourse to the PTB, and

in particular, via the recourse to the STB, no paradox is engendered. But the paradoxical character

of Kripke’s puzzle does arise when the above normal practices are conjoined with the PTB. The

puzzle, therefore, in view of the above, should be viewed as a major argument against the PTB.

Coupled with other drawbacks of this theory and other reasons for rejecting it, some of which I

mentioned above, Kripke’s puzzle therefore makes a major contribution to the case against the


In section 2, the STB was presented, but not defended or developed in full. Such development

should await another occasion. However, the above analysis shows that such a development is not

necessary in order to exonerate our uncontroversial normal practices regarding belief from the

charge of incoherence.

Section 9: The Paderewski case. Kripke provides a version of his puzzle that does not

seem to resort to the translation principle. On this version, the subject, Peter, “may learn the name

‘Paderewski’ with an identification of the person named as a famous pianist,” and thus assent to

‘Paderewski had musical talent’. Later, in a different circle, Peter learns of a Paderewski who was a

prime minister, and assents to ‘Paderewski had no musical talent’. The puzzle, then, in both the

consistency and the contradiction variations, is replicated within a single language. Consequently,

there need not be two distinct languages or dialects involved in the paradoxical consequences of the

puzzle. On its inconsistency version, the subject Peter is guilty of believing that Paderewski is a

talented musician and believing that he is not a talented musician. This inconsistency version of the

puzzle deserves special attention, since it seems that it is not handled adequately by the STB in the

form presented above. On the contradiction version, assuming (contrary to the above) in the

circumstances of the second sort that Peter was reluctant to assent to ‘Paderewski had musical

talent’, the question is whether we can indeed conclude that Peter did not believe that Paderewski

had musical talent. I will argue that this conclusion is blocked since Peter’s reluctance to assent

under one set of circumstances to the claim that Paderewski is a talented musician does not, in

analogy to previous versions of the puzzle which we have seen, suffices for concluding that he

doesn’t believe that Paderewski has musical talent in view of the fact that he is disposed to assent to

a sentence of this form in other circumstances.

Before attending in greater detail to the Paderewski case, consider first a simpler case. Consider

a variant of the ‘London’-‘Londres’ case but in the very same language, dialect and even idiolect,

with ‘L.A.’ and ‘Los Angeles’ replacing ‘London’ and ‘Londres’, mutatis mutandis. The subject,

Peter, is not aware that L.A. and Los Angeles are the same town – he believes they are distinct

cities. During the times he spent in N.Y., his companions told him about the city L.A., which they

thought was ugly; when he was in Chicago, his companions there talked about Los Angeles, which,

they thought, was pretty (pictures and all). So Peter assents to ‘Los Angeles is pretty’ and to ‘L.A.

is not pretty’. It follows that he believes that L.A. is pretty and that he believes that L.A. is not


The former and the latter follow from the analysis of the reporting construction proposed in the

discussion of the STB, assuming that the assent to ‘p’, under the circumstances, entitles us to

conclude that ‘p’ is a belief of the subject (and since ‘L.A.’ is an ap of ‘Los Angeles’). (On

Kripke’s principles, the latter follows from the disquotation principle; regarding the former, we can

make the transition by performing a homophonic translation from the subject’s idiolect to an

idiolect of someone else’s which is indistinguishable from it in pertinent respects, and then

translating back, since ‘L.A.’ is an adequate translation of ‘Los Angeles’. Since the first translation

is, in the relevant respects, an idempotent function, no issue of failure of transitivity arises.)

Is Peter consistent? Intuitively, of course he is. On the STB, the issue is similar to the case of

Pierre, since Peter doesn’t hold inconsistent beliefs. His pertinent beliefs are ‘L.A. is pretty’ and

‘Los Angeles is not pretty’, and he does not possess the belief ‘L.A. is Los Angeles’.

Regarding the contradiction case, suppose again that his acquaintances in Chicago are cautious

and merely abstain from assenting to ‘Los Angeles is pretty’, and Peter conforms to their pattern.

Can we conclude that Peter doesn’t believe that L.A. is pretty? Again, on the STB the answer is

negative, since, on the analysis of the reporting construction, ‘Los Angeles is pretty’ not being a

belief of Peter’s allows us to conclude he doesn’t believe that Los Angeles is pretty only if there

isn’t an ap of it which is itself a belief of Peter. But ‘L.A. is pretty’ is an ap of it, and is a belief of

Peter’s. Hence concluding that Peter doesn’t believe that Los Angeles is pretty is unwarranted and

false. (Of course, since ‘L.A. is pretty’ is a belief of Peter, he believes that Los Angeles is pretty.)

The STB thus handles the ‘L.A.’ – ‘Los Angeles’ case as smoothly as it handles the

‘London’-‘Londres’ case, even though the facts of the case do not involve a different dialect or

idiolect from that of the subject and the reporter (us) alike.

David Kaplan introduced the notion of different words, for names that are homonyms with

different causal trees or ancestries.21 Thus, suppose that John in one context, following a discussion

of the big depression and Roosevelt character at that time, assents to ‘Roosevelt was not an

advocate of the strenuous life’. In another context, following a discussion of benefits of the outdoor

activities, the rugged life and Roosevelt’s support of it, he assents to ‘Roosevelt was not a cripple’.

Is Jones consistent? He is well aware that two Roosevelts are involved. These two beliefs of his

involve different words in his dialect as well as in his idiolect. As such, his sentential beliefs are

distinct, even though they are phonetically indistinguishable. The case here is comparable to a case

of an ambiguous lexical item, where in a different context a different sense is resorted to.

Regarding the contradiction problem in this case, from John’s reluctance to assent to ‘Roosevelt

was an advocate of the strenuous life’ it does follow that John didn’t believe that Roosevelt was an

advocate of the strenuous life, since there John doesn’t have a contravening sentential belief (i.e.,

such as: Roosevelt was an advocate of the strenuous life). The fact that John does have a belief that

is phonetically identical doesn’t entail that he had that belief, since different words yield different

beliefs. It is therefore the case that John believes that Roosevelt was an advocate of the strenuous

life and that he doesn’t believe that Roosevelt was an advocate of the strenuous life, and this is not

a contradiction since this report is true only when we, after John, use different words here (for the

same phonetic type ‘Roosevelt’).

The terminology of different words is a semantic terminology, and the subject John need

not be familiar with it (as he won’t if he is not a contemporary professional philosopher directly or

indirectly familiar with Kaplan’s work). In the case at hand, it is indeed not necessary that John be

aware of it. He would simply regard it as a case where two different Roosevelts are involved.

However, as we will see below, certain restrictions concerning the subject’s consistency require that

he believes, regarding two phonetically identical proper names, that they are not tokens of the same

word (which he may express by saying: there are two distinct characters named alike here – e.g.,

named ‘Roosevelt’).22

We have introduced, after Kaplan, the notion of distinct homophonic words in a dialect, i.e.,

two homophonic but distinct lexical items, paradigmatically names, in a dialect, with distinct causal

histories, that typically would have distinct referents though they need not (including the possibility

of no referent). Let us call such words causal-history words. Kaplan introduced this notion

primarily for the dialectical case. But now let us consider a different type of distinct words which I

will resort to primarily in considering a particular idiolect, and which I will call clusterally distinct

words. Those are homophonically the same but distinct lexical items in an idiolect,

paradigmatically names, that the subject considers to be names of distinct objects (e.g., people). A

case in point is one in which the subject considers one and the same person to be distinct, and yet

with the same name-type. This is the Paderewski case. But two idiolectical words may appear in a

case in which one of the two idiolectical words has reference and the other does not, or even in

more extreme cases where both don’t. 23

The terminology of clusterally distinct words derives primarily from a picture where the

representational system of the subject can be considered (in a first approximation) as consisting of

clusters of linguistic items -- singular terms and predicates. Two (token) items belong to the same

cluster (and are therefore co-clusteral) if the subject believes they apply to the same individual. In

the above case of clusterally distinct names I have in mind primarily two homophonically same

proper names that the subject considers to be names of distinct people, and thus occupy distinct

clusters. As such, they deserve, so I suggest, to be considered distinct words of a special kind in the

subject’s idiolect – clusterally distinct words, even if they are not in the dialect causal-historically

distinct words. Thus, what is distinctive of clusterally distinct words in an idiolect is that they may

have the same causal historical tree but that diverges in the idiolect, i.e., that yields two distinct

endpoints in the idiolect.

Causal-historical word types can thus be considered as ambiguous if there are two such

distinct homophonic words. That is, there is a causal-historical ambiguity of a name type in a

dialect if there are two homophonic names of the same type in a dialect with different causal-

historical trees, namely, if there are distinct causal-historical words of the same type in the dialect.

Similarly, a name type in an idiolect can be considered ambiguous in the idiolect if it is the name

type of two clusterally distinct words.



1. “A Puzzle about Belief”, in Meaning and Use, A. Margalit (ed.), Reidel Pub. Co., 1979. In

my "Kripke's Belief Puzzle", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, vol. X, pp. 287-326, 1986, my

emphasis was to show that the sentential theory of belief does not lead to the inconsistency and the

contradiction problems, to show the strong analogy of Kripke’s puzzle and its resolution to the

Hesperus-Phosphorus case, and to explore the various inferences involved.

2. Lewis too would accept that Kripke’s puzzle undermines the propositional analysis of belief

sentences; see his “What Pierre does not believe” Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1981.

3. See my "Beliefs and Believing", Theoria, LII, 3, pp. 129-145, 1986.

4. Ibid, section 2.

5. See my "Mediated Reference and Proper Names", Mind, Vol. 102, October, 1993, pp. 611-

628, section 8.

6. It is quite clear that Kripke restricts himself to the de dicto reading. David Lewis in his

“What Pierre Does Not Believe” does not restrict himself to the de dicto reading in his discussion of

the puzzle on the ground that appeal to intuitions should be uncommitted regarding a particular

reading. But this is not so, so long as one does not commit oneself to any particular theory of the de

dicto/de re distinction, such as Lewis’. Typically, one can formulate a restriction to the de re

reading in the uncommitted formulation ‘x believes that a is F’ by transforming it into: x believes of

a that it/he/she is F. Similarly, a formulation committed to the de dicto reading would be: x believes

that a is F (whether or not x believes it of a). Intuitions applied to formulations that are exclusively

de dicto or de re allow for testing intuitions regarding a particular reading.

Lewis is right though when he comments that the de dicto/de re distinction regarding belief

attribution is not dichotomical. Indeed, an attribution may be both de dicto and de re. This would be

the case when the content clause purports to be an ap of a belief of the subject, and at the same time

purports to be an attribution of a (when the attribution has the form: x believes that a is F).

Alternatively, at attribution is both de dicto and de re when it is equivalent to the disjunction of the

above unambiguous de dicto formulation and the above unambiguous de re formulation.

7. The above correction may well go beyond what would be legitimately covered by Kripke’s

protective clause, viz.: “Maybe again the formulation needs further tightening, but the intent is

clear.” (p. 249)

8. In his “The import of the Puzzle about Belief”,The Philosophical Review, Vol. 105, No. 3.,

1996, pp. 373-402, David Sosa requires that translation must not result in ambiguity, and concludes

that ‘Londres’ must not be translated as ‘London’ in Pierre’s case. But this can’t be right: indeed, in

this case there are two senses only in the Pierre’s idiolect, though not in the dialect in which the

translation is formulated. Sosa’s conclusion seems to undermine the translatability of proper names.

9. Compare Wilfrid Sellars’ conception of talk as ‘thinking out loud’.

10. Compare Davidson’s conception of thought as requiring language.

11. “A Theory of Thinker’s Reference”, section 1.

12. Thus, if the subject r believes (de dicto) that a is F, then he has beliefs (one or more) which

are adequate paraphrases of ‘a is F’; and if for one such belief ‘b is G’, r refers by ‘b’ (in it) to a,

then he believes of a that it is F; see below.

13. To consider ‘p’’s being an ap of ‘q’, where both are in the same idiolect of the subject, as a

form of adequate translation, one can consider the homophonic translation of ‘q’ into another

idiolect L, which locally, i.e., insofar as ‘q’ is concerned, is indistinguishable from the idiolect of

the subject in question, and then consider the adequate translation of ‘q’ in that idiolect into ‘p’ in

the subject’s idiolect. Since the first homophonic translation involved no differences whatsoever in

shades of content (or meaning), there is no issue of transitivity here.

14. See I. Scheffler, “An Inscriptional Approach to Indirect Quotation”, Analysis 14, 1954, pp.

83-90, for the suggestion that saying is a relation between a person and an utterance, and D.

Davidson, “On Saying that”, Synthese, 19, 1968-69, pp. 130-146, for the suggestion that, roughly, it

is true that Galileo said that the earth moves in case Galileo said something which in his mouth

means the same as ‘the earth moves’ means in mine.


15. In his paper “Being of Two Minds: Belief with Doubt”, Nous, 29:1, 1995, Nathan Salmon

defines the operator ‘Bel’ as follows. ‘Bel’ is an operator that applies to <a, proposition p, the

manner in which x grasps the proposition p>; that is, it applies to <a,p,x> (where x is the above

guise of p for a). On that basis, Salmon analyzes ‘a believes that p’ as: (Ex)G(a,p,x)&Bel<a,p,x>)

(where ‘G(a,p,x)’ can be used as an abbreviation for: x grasps the proposition p in a way x). So for

Salmon, there is no primacy for a truth maker which is the guise, as is the case on the STB


But what is the point of having in ‘Bel’ the proposition as an argument? Rather, by contrast,

on the STB conception, the subject and the sentential representation at a time are the arguments.

Given those, all the information needed for the work propositions are needed to do is extractable;

viz., the context at t determines the denotation of indexical expressions, and the environment and

community of the subject determine the referents of terms used, etc.

So whereas Salmon uses as the extra element something like mode of presentation, I have

used a sentential representation. Salmon thus gives up the direct propositional theory for belief. For

my resort to a sentential presentation as the crucial element needed for the notion of belief and for

belief ascriptions, see also my “Kripke’s Belief Puzzle” and “Belief and Believing”.

In his “Naming and Knowing”, 1977, Midwest Studies, Contemporary Perspectives in

Philosophy of Language, pp. 61-74, esp. pp. 65-67, Stephen Schiffer employs the notion of a mode

of presentation, that goes back to Frege’s fundamental notion. See also his “The ‘Fido’-Fido Theory

of Belief”, Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 1, 1987, pp. 455-480. However, there is no concrete

structure for the mere notion of mode of presentation and its individuation leaves a good deal to be

desired, whereas a sentential conception yields a full-fledged structure and a much clearer

individuation conditions. For critique of Schiffer’s hidden indexcial theory (defended by Perry and

Crimmins), see Salmon, ibid.

16. A few comparative comments regarding Scott Soames’ “Direct Reference, Propositional

Attitudes and Semantic Content”, Philosophical Topics, Vol. 15, 1, 1987, are in order. First,

Soames puts forth what he calls ‘A2’:


A2. Propositional attitude sentences report relations to the semantic content of their

complements: individual i satisfies ‘x v’s that s’, where v is an attitude, relative to context c iff i

bears reference to the semantic content of s (relative to c). This position, however, conflict with the

analysis of the attitudinal reporting constructions laid out above.

Second, from Kripke’s disquotation and translation principles, Soames concludes that:

If a competent speaker x of L assents to sentence s, if p translates s, then x satisfies ‘y believes

that p’.

(his 16Aa), as well as:

If speaker x asserts s, and if p translates s, then x satisfies ‘y asserts that p’.

(his 16b). It follows that Pierre believes and asserts that London is pretty and that London is not

pretty, a consequence that Soames endorses. But his take of such a case is that it only shows that in

some cases one is in no position to determine his consistency. This conclusion, however, is not

called for: consider ‘broad consistency’ as consistency under substitution of coreferential terms;

then this is true for broad consistency; but broad consistency is not subject to pure logical scrutiny.

As Soames notes, the subject may say: London isn’t pretty but Londres is pretty. This would

be translated as the above apparent inconsistency, but is proper. “Beijin’ and ‘Pekin’ translate both

into one name in another language. Soames thus accepts that:

17. Pierre said that London is pretty and that London is not pretty

19. Pierre said that and that for some x, x is pretty and x is not pretty.

This conclusion, however, is unwarranted. One can existentially quantify de re, but not de

dicto. Why are we in a position to infer that but not: s believes that for some x, x is a planet and x is

not a plant’ from: x believes that H is a planet and that P is not a planet’? One can existentially

quantify in the content clause, and have it in the scope of the belief operator: belief is closed under

recognizable implications. But this shouldn’t hinge on a limitation of computing power of Pierre.

Rather, logical conclusions in scope of the belief operator must only be ascribable to a consistent

subject if the conclusions are from beliefs of his, not from reports of beliefs of his. There is no

problem with 18. read de re; but it is false read de dicto.


Consider another case presented by Soames. x passed once across y’s front door and once

across the back door. y recognized correctly x as a professor in the first time but wrongly as a

student in the second. x can truly say: y said that I am a professor and a student. Presumably, x can

also truly say: y said that I am a professor and I am not a professor. However, if one doesn’t limit

ascribable inferences to beliefs but allow them from reports, one can then conclude that y said that I

am and am not a professor! This line of thought thus seems to pull Soames towards unacceptable


17. Lewis indeed does not consider

(1) Pierre believes that London is pretty

(2) Pierre believes that London isn’t pretty.

as ascribing contradictory beliefs to Pierre. As I argue below (and have in “Kripke’s Belief

Puzzle”, Pierre is not guilty of inconsistency, and thus not of possessing contradictory beliefs.

Indeed, this case undermines, for this and other reasons, the prop theory of belief ascriptions, as

Lewis would agree; see his “Kripke’s Puzzle”(?), although our diagnosis is entirely different (see,

e.g., Lewis resort to essences).

Lewis assumes that the name of Bristol was changed into ‘Londres’ in French, and ‘Londer’

in English; this is the pretty city Pierre heard about while in France. The real London deteriorated

throughout, and Pierre hasn’t heard about it. But when Pierre says ‘Londres est jolie’ – this can’t be

translated as ‘Pierre believes that London is pretty’ – Lewis is wrong about that -- though it can be

translated as: PB that Londer is pretty. ap requires that when there is a referent for the proper name

by the subject, the referent is preserved by the reporter if the reporter has referent by the proper

name in the content clause he uses in his ascription and that the proper names are ap of each other

even in a de dicto reading. If the reporter doesn’t have reference by the proper name in the subject’s

belief, he must go by the ap.

18. At least without embellishments or modifications which retain its appeal and


19. "The Hesperus-Phosphorus Case", Theoria, L 1 pp.1-35, 1984; “Kripke’s Belief Puzzle”,

section VII.

20. More precisely, with the small modifications I proposed above in sections 2 and esp. section


21. See his Words, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume 64, pp. 93-

119, 1990.

22. Here the notion of latent belief may be useful: what’s involved is that the subject has

informational ingredients that suffice, given sufficient theoretical and logical acumen, for the

conclusion that these are not two tokens of the same word. But again, the subject may have ways of

indicating that he has a latent belief that two distinct words are involved by resorting to certain

colloquial locutions such as the above. I have employed the notion of latent belief and latent

knowledge in my work on reference, and expanded on these notions there; see “A Theory of

Speaker Reference”, section 10.

23. One presumably can conceive of a case where such a phenomenon of clusterally distinct

words would afflict a dialect, i.e., the community of speakers of a given dialect, that is, with two

distinct homophonic words but with same causal history, e.g., if the entire community makes the

same mistake that Peter did. (For that reason I avoided calling Kaplan’s words dialectical words

and clusterally distinct words idiolectical words.)