Berg seeks to defend the theory that the meaning of a proper name in a belief report is its reference against Frege’s puzzle by hypothesizing that when substituting coreferential names in belief reports results in reports that seem to have different truth values, the appearance is due to the fact that the reports have different metalinguistic implicatures. I review evidence that implicatures cannot be calculated in the way Grice or Berg imagine, and give reasons to believe that belief reports do not have the implicatures Berg attributes to them. I also argue that even if belief reports did have such implicatures, they would not explain why the belief reports in Frege’s puzzle seem to have different truth values. I point out that Berg has no reason to believe that Lois Lane believes Clark Kent is a reporter and Lois Lane believes Superman is a reporter are both true rather than both false, and that Leibniz’s Law cannot be used to defend substitutivity in belief reports because belief reports are not relational in the requisite way. Finally, I observe that some of the linguistic data Berg uses to argue for substitutivity in belief reports concerns the transparent interpretation of belief reports, whereas Frege’s puzzle concerns the opaque interpretation.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
I replaced Grice’s numerals with capital letters to avoid confusion with reference to display lines of this paper.
Grice’s conversational principles are: The Cooperative Principle (CP): Contribute what is required by the accepted purpose of the conversation; the maxim of Quality: Make your contribution true and justified; the maxim of Quantity: Be as informative as required; the maxim of Relation: Be relevant; the maxim of Manner: Be perspicuous.
Cf. Miller (2015), who argues that the “Gricean rescue strategy” generally fails whenever the predictive failures of the semantic theory in question can be recast in epistemological or metaphysical terms.
Berg also says that “well known observations by Keith Donnellan (1970), Saul Kripke (1972), David Kaplan (1978, 1979, 1989), and Hilary Putnam (1975) provide strong evidence for the natural view that the meaning of a proper name is nothing but the name’s bearer.” I have argued at length (Davis 2005) that the observations of these authors show that the meaning of a proper name is non-descriptive, but not that the meaning of a name is its referent.
Many philosophers (e.g., Russell 1905) use ‘about’ relationally, so that nothing can be believes about nonexistent objects. In this sense, (41) is trivially valid but the premise is not a well-established fact, being true only if God actually exists.
For a more adequate definition, see W. A. Davis, A Theory of Saying Reports, §9, in A. Capone, F. Kiefer, & F. Lo Piparo (Eds.), Indirect reports and pragmatics: Interdisciplinary Studies, accepted for publication, Cham: Springer.
Berg, J. (1988). The pragmatics of substitutivity. Linguistics and Philosophy, 11, 355–70.
Berg, J. (1998). In defense of direct belief: substitutivity, availability, and iterability. Lingua e Stile, 33, 461–70.
Berg, J. (2012). Direct belief: An essay on the semantics, pragmatics, and metaphysics of belief. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
Davis, W. A. (1998). Implicature: Intention, convention, and principle in the failure of Gricean theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Davis, W. A. (2003). Meaning, expression, and thought. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Davis, W. A. (2005). Nondescriptive meaning and reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Davis, W. A. (2014) Implicature. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition), ed. E. N. Zalta. Palo Alto, CA. Http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2014/entries/implicature/.
Davis, W. A. (2011). “Metalinguistic” negation, denials, and idioms. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 2548–77.
Davis, W. A. (2013). Grice’s razor and epistemic invariantism. Journal of Philosophical Research, 38, 147–76.
DeRose, K. (1999). Contextualism: An explanation and defense. In J. Greco & E. Sosa (Eds.), The Blackwell guide to epistemology (pp. 187–205). Oxford: Blackwell.
DeRose, K. (2002). Assertion, knowledge, and context. Philosophical Review, 111, 126–203.
Donnellan, K. (1970). Proper names and identifying descriptions. Synthese, 21, 335–58.
Grice, H. P. (1989). Studies in the way of words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hazlett, A. (2007). Grice’s razor. Metaphilosophy, 38, 669–90.
Horn, L. R. (1989). A natural history of negation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Horn, L. R. (2004). Implicature. In L. R. Horn & G. Ward (Eds.), The handbook of pragmatics (pp. 3–28). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Horn, L. R. (2010). WJ-40: Issues in the investigation of implicature. In K. Petrus (Ed.), Meaning and analysis, new essays on Grice (pp. 310–339). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
Huang, Y. (2014). Pragmatics (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kaplan, D. (1978). Dthat. In P. Cole (Ed.), Syntax and semantics, 9: Pragmatics (pp. 221–53). New York: Academic.
Kaplan, D. (1979). On the logic of demonstratives. In P. French, T. E. J. Uehling, & H. Wettstein (Eds.), Contemporary perspectives in the philosophy of language (pp. 410–4). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Kaplan, D. (1989). Demonstratives. In J. Almog, J. Perry and H. Wettstein (Eds.), Themes from Kaplan (pp. 481–563). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kripke, S. (1972). Naming and necessity. In D. Davidson & G. Harman (Eds.), Semantics of natural language (pp. 253–355, 763–769). Dordrecht: Reidel.
Lepore, E., & Stone, M. (2015). Imagination and convention: distinguishing grammar and inference in language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Levinson, S. C. (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Levinson, S. C. (2000). Presumptive meanings: The theory of generalized conversational implicature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
McKay, T. (1981). On proper names in belief ascriptions. Philosophical Studies, 39, 287–303.
Miller, Z. (2015). The reformulation argument: reining in Gricean pragmatics. Philosophical Studies. doi:10.1007/s11098-015-0505-2.
Neale, S. (1992). Paul Grice and the philosophy of language. Linguistics and Philosophy, 15, 509–59.
Pinker, S. (2007). The evolutionary social psychology of off-record indirect speech acts. Intercultural Pragmatics, 4, 437–461.
Pinker, S., Nowak, M. A., and Lee, J. J. (2008). The logic of indirect speech. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, 833–838.
Putnam, H. (1975). The meaning of “meaning”. In K. Gunderson (Ed.), Language, mind, and knowledge (pp. 131–93). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Russell, B. (1905). On denoting. Mind, 14, 479–493.
Rysiew, P. (2001). The context-sensitivity of knowledge attributions. Noûs, 35, 477–514.
About this article
Cite this article
Davis, W.A. Berg’s Answer to Frege’s Puzzle. Philosophia 45, 19–34 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-015-9631-5
- Frege’s puzzle
- Leibniz’s law
- Grice’s razor