[FOM] Godel numbers, use, and mention

mjmurphy 4mjmu at rogers.com
Sun Jun 8 20:02:19 EDT 2003

This a response to both Dean Buckner and Richard Heck.  Dean wrote,  quoting


> >Plenty of interesting work has been and is being done on this [problem],
> >both in logic and in semantics


> Some very silly work in my view.  Frege's explanation was that a proper
> means something different within a "that" clause than outside.  It refers
> its own meaning, if you like.  Philosophers don't believe that sort of
> any more, (& neither do I b.t.w.) and some very odd views have emerged,
> including the idea that we can believe and disbelieve the same
> For example, if Shakespeare really is Bacon, some philosophers think we
> believe that Bacon is Macbeth.  Without knowing it.  Except of course we
> know it, since (according to them) we can substitute the same proposition
> any that-clause, and since (if Bacon = Shakespeare) the proposition that
> Shakespeare wrote Macbeth = that Bacon wrote Macbeth.
> "There are different ways of grasping and believing a single proposition.
> rational speaker could believe a proposition in one of these ways, without
> believing that proposition in another way. In fact, a rational person
> believe a proposition in one way, while believing its negation in a
> different way."  (David Braun, "Understanding Belief Reports",
> Philosophical Review, October 1998)
> An enormous amount of work has gone into explaining that-clauses in belief
> reports.  If a tenth of the work had gone to looking at the same type of
> clause in "S says that --", "There is evidence that --", "it has been
> discoverd that --", "it has been proved that --", such theories as Braun's
> would have become extinct pretty rapidly.

Well, the theory is hardly Braun's alone.  Both proponents of a Neo-Fregean
and Neo-Russellian view could argue that, as I mentioned in the post to R.
Heck, once you put aside the different "ways" of grasping the proposition at
issue, it is still the same proposition that is believed in either case.  So
let us say you uttered 1) "I believe that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth."   We might correctly report that "Dean believes that Bacon wrote Macbeth, but he wouldn't put it that way."  If my memory serves, S. Soames made a similar argument at one time.

Nor is it an entirely counterintuitive.  Or at least we can easily imagine
contexts in which we would call this kind of belief report correct (even without the "but he wouldn't..." bit).  Suppose the FBI is tapping your telephone, and their agents know all of your
literary connections by different names than the ones you use.  For example, they know
"Shakespeare" as "Bacon".  In this context, if you uttered 1) sincerely, then
"Dean believes that Bacon wrote Macbeth." would follow, or at least be taken as a
correct belief report by these FBI agents.

Richard Heck wrote:

"Certainly, there are theories on which that would hold. But I don't know
if I would want to call them the "standard" theories. I'm not sure there
is much standard in this vexed area. In any event, it is, or should be,
obvious that there is a de re (or 'objectual') reading of (5), on which
substitution will hold. All views (even Frege's own) will allow that.
What is controversial is (i) whether there is also a de dicto (or
'notional') reading of (5) and, if so, (ii) how the two are related."


Surely the problem is assuming that there is a single relation between the
de re and de dicto reading.  As in the example above, my correct report of
your beliefs can bear various degrees of fidelity to the actual words you
may have used to express those beliefs, depending on the context of
utterance and the contraints this context places on what will be called a
correct report.



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