The Indefinite Description Analysis of Belief Ascription Sentences: A Trouble with the Analysis\ulcorner

  • Published : 2002.10.01

Abstract

In a recent paper, I have proposed an analysis concerning propositions and 'that'-clauses as a solution to Kripke's puzzle and other similar puzzles, which I now call 'the Indefinite Description Analysis of Belief Ascription Sentences.' I have listed some of the major advantages of this analysis besides its merit as a solution to the puzzles: it is amenable to the direct-reference theory of proper names; it does not nevertheless need to introduce Russellian (singular) propositions or any other new entities. David Lewis has constructed an interesting argument to refute this analysis. His argument seems to show that my analysis has an unwelcome consequence: if someone believes any proposition, then he or she should, ipso facto, believe any necessary (mathematical or logical) proposition (such as the proposition that 1 succeeds 0). In this paper, I argue that Lewis's argument does not pose a real threat to my analysis. All his argument shows is that we should not accept the assumption called 'the equivalence thesis': if two sentences are equivalent, then they express the same proposition. I argue that this thesis is already in trouble for independent reasons. Especially, I argue that if we accept the equivalence thesis then, even without my analysis, we can derive a sentence like 'Fred believes that 1 succeeds 0 and snow is white' from a sentence like 'Fred believes that snow is white.' The consequence mentioned above is not worse than this consequence.