A solution for Russellians to a puzzle about belief

Analysis 64 (3):223-29 (2004)
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Abstract
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’.
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Archival date: 2013-04-29
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