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Lewis on What Puzzling Pierre Does Not Believe

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					           Lewis
on
What
Puzzling
Pierre
Does
Not
Believe


In
“What
Puzzling
Pierre
Does
not
Believe”,
Lewis
([4],
412‐4)
argues

that
the
sentences



(1)
 Pierre
believes
that
London
is
pretty



and


(2)
 Pierre
believes
that
London
is
not
pretty


both
truly
describe
Kripke’s
well‐known
situation
involving
puzzling

Pierre
([3]).
Lewis
also
argues
that
this
situation
is
not
one
according

to
which
Pierre
believes
either
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed

by



(3)
 London
is
pretty


or
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by



(4)
 London
is
not
pretty.



These
claims,
Lewis
suggests,
provide
a
starting
point
from
which
a

correct
resolution
of
Kripke’s
puzzles
about
belief
([3])
can
be

developed.



    At
the
end
of
his
paper
([4],
p.
414‐7),
Lewis
considers
and
replies

to
a
number
of
potential
objections
to
his
position.
According
to
one
of

these,
Lewis’s
contentions
regarding
(1)‐(4)
cannot
all
be
true

because
‘believes
that’
and
‘believes
the
proposition
that’
are

synonymous.
Although
the
objection
Lewis
considers
is
unsound
and

his
response
to
it
correct,
a
minor
variant
of
that
objection
provides

significant
reason
to
be
skeptical
of
his
contentions.
This
variant,

moreover,
is
not
persuasively
addressed
by
anything
either
Lewis
or

any
other
well‐known
defender
of
this
sort
of
view
(such
as
Stalnaker

[8])
has
had
to
say
on
the
matter.
All
of
this
is
relevant,
moreover,
not


                                     1


only
when
it
comes
to
assessing
Lewis’s
contentions
regarding
(1)‐
(4),
but
also
when
it
comes
to
drawing
lessons
from
certain
standard

objections
to
the
view
that
the
propositional
objects
of
belief
and

assertion
are
sets
of
metaphysically
possible
worlds.
Underlying
these

issues
are
important
ones
in
the
epistemological
foundations
of

propositional
semantics
that
deserve
to
be
brought
to
the
fore.




                                     I


Although
many
readers
will
be
well‐acquainted
with
Kripke’s

scenario,
let
us
quickly
remind
ourselves
of
its
details.
In
this
scenario,

Pierre
is
a
competent
speaker
of
French
who
sincerely
and
reflectively

assents
to
the
sentence


(5)
 Londres
est
jolie.



He
is
also
a
competent
speaker
of
English
who
sincerely
and

reflectively
assents
to
(4)
and
who
is
not
the
least
bit
inclined
to

assent
to
(3).
None
of
this,
moreover,
involves
any
irrationality
on

Pierre’s
part.
Rather,
Pierre
ended
up
in
this
situation
through
an

understandable,
even
if
unlikely,
sequence
of
events.
He
began
life
as
a

monolingual
speaker
of
French
living
in
Paris.
There
he
heard
many

wonderful
things
about
a
distant
city
his
friends
called
‘Londres’.
On

the
basis
of
these
things,
he
justifiably
came
to
assent
to
(1).
Later
on,

Pierre
moved
to
London
and
learned
to
speak
English
through
direct

method.
Improbably,
all
of
this
took
place
without
his
ever
learning

that
the
names
‘Londres’
and
‘London’
refer
to
the
same
city,
much

less
that
the
one
name
is
a
translation
of
the
other.
In
fact,
due
to
his

idiosyncratic
experiences,
Pierre
is
now
fully
justified
in
thinking

these
names
refer
to
different
cities,
and
he
has
never
had
any
good

reason
to
think
otherwise.
Moreover,
the
part
of
London
in
which

Pierre
now
lives
is
very
ugly
and
he,
again
justifiably,
takes
it
to
be

representative
of
that
city
as
whole.
On
the
basis
of
this,
he
is
now


                                     2


disposed
to
sincerely
and
reflectively
assent
to
(2b)
and
he
is
not
the

least
bit
inclined
to
assent
to
(2a).
Since
he
has
never
had
any

significant
reason
to
think
that
‘Londres’
and
‘London’
refer
to
the

same
thing,
he
continues,
with
full
rationality,
to
assent
to
(1).
To
this

day,
he
hears
wonderful
stories
about
the
city
called
‘Londres’
when

he
phones
his
monolingual
French‐speaking
friends
back
home
in

Paris.







    As
mentioned
above,
Lewis
[4]
contends
(a)
that
sentences
(1)
and

(2)
truly
describe
this
situation
and
(b)
that
this
situation
is
neither

one
according
to
which
Pierre
believes
the
proposition
(actually)

expressed
by
(3)
nor
one
according
to
which
he
believes
that

(actually)
expressed
by
(4).
In
addition
to
maintaining
that
(a)
and
(b)

are
true,
Lewis
maintains
(i)
that
the
propositions
(actually)

expressed
by
(2)
and
(3)
are
jointly
inconsistent,
(ii)
that
the

propositions
(actually)
expressed
by
(2)
and
(3)
are
the
same
as
those

expressed
by
(2)
and
(3)
according
to
the
Pierre
situation,
and
(iii)

that
Pierre
does
not
believe
jointly
inconsistent
propositions
in

connection
with
his
use
of
(2)
and
(4).
In
fact,
it
is
precisely
to
square

claim
(a)
with
claims
(i),
(ii),
and
(iii)
that
Lewis
adopts
claim
(b).






    Our
discussion
of
Lewis’s
contentions
regarding
(1)‐(4),
and
hence

his
attempt
to
square
claim
(a)
with
(i),
(ii)
and
(iii),
can
be
simplified

considerably
if
(following
Lewis
[4])
we
assume
below
that
the

imagined
situation
involving
Pierre
actually
obtains;
that
is,
that
it
is

the
way
things
actually
are.
So,
let
us
assume
just
that
for
the

remainder
of
this
section.
(In
considering
the
legitimacy
of
this

simplifying
assumption
it
is
important
to
recall
that
Lewis’s
claim
is

not
that
Pierre
believes
the
proposition
expressed
according
to
the

Pierre
situation
by
the
sentence
‘London
is
pretty’
without
also

believing
that
actually
expressed
by
that
sentence.
Rather,
his

contention
is
that
Pierre
does
not
believe
the
proposition
actually


                                      3


expressed
by
that
sentence
or
the
proposition
expressed
by
that

sentence
according
to
the
Pierre
situation.)






    Lewis’s
discussion
of
the
alleged
synonymy
of
‘believes
that’
and

‘believes
the
proposition
that’
and
its
relevance
to
his
position
occurs

in
the
following
passage:




    Objection:
‘Believes
that’
and
‘believes
the
proposition
that’
are

     synonymous.
I
[Lewis]
reply:
maybe
so.
But
in
that
case,
‘believes

     the
proposition
that’
must
not
be
analyzed
as
‘has
a
belief
with
the

     propositional
object
expressed
by’
(with
quotation
marks

     supplied)…
([4],
p.
416).

     

In
explicit
premise‐conclusion
form
the
potential
objection
Lewis

considers
here
can
be
formulated
as
follows:


P1.
 The
expressions
‘believes
that’
and
‘believes
the
proposition

         that’
are
synonymous.

P2.
 If
the
expressions
‘believes
that’
and
‘believes
the
proposition

         that’
are
synonymous,
then
the
sentences
‘Pierre
believes
that

         London
is
pretty’
and
‘Pierre
believes
the
proposition
that

         London
is
pretty’
do
not
differ
in
truth
value.


P3.
 The
expression
‘believes
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by

         “London
is
pretty”’
is
an
analysis
of
the
expression
‘believes
the

         proposition
that
London
is
pretty’.

P4.

 If
the
expression
‘believes
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed

         by
“London
is
pretty”’
is
an
analysis
of
the
expression
‘believes

         the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty’,
then
the
sentences
‘Pierre

         believes
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty’
and
‘Pierre

         believes
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence

         ‘London
is
pretty’
do
not
differ
in
truth
value.


P5.
 However,
if
the
sentence
‘Pierre
believes
the
proposition


                                        4


        (actually)
expressed
by
“London
is
pretty”’
is
true,
then
Pierre

        believes
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
“London
is

        pretty”.

C.
     So,
it
is
not
the
case
that:
the
sentence
‘Pierre
believes
that

        London
is
pretty’
is
true
and
Pierre
does
not
believe
the

        proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence
‘London
is

        pretty’.
(From
P1‐P5)

        

      Lewis’s
response
to
this
objection
in
the
above‐quoted
passage
is

that
(P3)
is
false
(at
least,
if
‘believes
that’
and
‘believes
the

proposition
that’
are
indeed
synonyms).
That
is,
according
to
Lewis

‘believes
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence

“London
is
pretty”
is
not
an
analysis
of
‘believes
the
proposition
that

London
is
pretty’.
So,
according
to
Lewis,
we
are
not
led
in
the

suggested
manner
via
a
sound
pattern
of
reasoning
to
the
conclusion

that
(a)
and
(b)
are
not
both
true
(even
if
‘believes
that’
and
‘believes

the
proposition
that’
are
synonymous).



      Setting
it’s
conditional
nature
aside,
Lewis’s
response
to
this

objection
is
quite
plausible;
it
is
at
best
doubtful
that
(P3)
is
true.
After

all,
it
is
plausible
to
maintain
(more
or
less
following
Church
[1])
that

‘believes
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence

‘London
is
pretty’
is
not
an
analysis
of
‘believes
that
London
is
pretty’

on
the
grounds
that
it
is
possible
for
someone—say,
a
normal

monolingual
speaker
of
German—to
believe
or
assert
the
proposition

expressed
by


(6)
 Pierre
believes
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty



without
thereby
believing
or
asserting
that
expressed
by



(7)
 Pierre
believes
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the



                                       5


          sentence
‘London
is
pretty’1



But,
as
mentioned
above,
a
slight
variant
of
the
objection
Lewis

considers—one
that
does
not
avail
itself
of
(P3)—constitutes
a
more

significant
objection
to
Lewis’s
position:



P1.
 If
the
sentence
‘Pierre
believes
that
London
is
pretty’
is
true,

           then
Pierre
believes
that
London
is
pretty

P2.
 Pierre
believes
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty
if
and
only

           if
he
believes
that
London
is
pretty


P3.
 The
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence
‘London
is

           pretty’
is
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty.

P4.
 If
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence
‘London

           is
pretty’
is
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty,
then
Pierre

           believes
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty
if
and
only
if
he

           believes
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence

           ‘London
is
pretty’.

C.
        So,
it
is
not
the
case
that:
the
sentence
‘Pierre
believes
that

           London
is
pretty’
is
true
and
Pierre
does
not
believe
the

           proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence
‘London
is

           pretty’.
(From
P1‐P4)

           

      This
objection
improves
upon
that
which
Lewis
considers
not
only

by
avoiding
appeal
to
(P3),
but
also
by
weakening
the
assumptions
it

makes
regarding
the
“equivalence”
of
‘believes
that’
and
‘believes
the

proposition
that’.
This
improved
objection
assumes
only
that
Pierre

believes
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty
if
and
only
if
he

believes
that
London
is
pretty;
it
does
not
assume
that
‘believes
that’

and
‘believes
the
proposition
that’
are
synonymous.
































































1
 Whether someone with Lewis’s theoretical commitments can consistently endorse these
plausible thoughts is another matter—one I will not go into here.

                                                               6


This
objection
is
swift
to
be
sure.
But
one
is
hard
pressed,
it
seems
to

me,
to
maintain
that
it
doesn’t
tell
against
Lewis’s
view.



    The
impression
that
there
is
good
reason
in
this
area
to
think
that

Lewis’s
suggestion
is
false
becomes
harder
to
ignore
when
it
is

observed
that
our
improved
objection’s
premises
can
be
weakened.

After
all,
the
new
objection
appeals
to
the
claim
that
the
proposition

(actually)
expressed
by
(3)
is
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty
as

well
as
the
claim
that
Pierre
believes
the
proposition
that
London
is

pretty
if
and
only
if
Pierre
believes
that
London
is
pretty.
And
some

who
doubt
that
they
know
that
the
proposition
expressed
by
(3)
is
the

proposition
that
London
is
pretty
or
that
Pierre
believes
the

proposition
that
London
is
pretty
if
and
only
if
he
believes
that

London
is
pretty,
might
doubt
that
she
knows
these
things
simply

because
she
doubt
that
she
knows
that
there
are
any
such
things
as

proposition
or
because
she
doubts
that
she
knows
that
there
is
any

such
thing
as
the
proposition
expressed
by
the
sentence
‘London
is

pretty’.
And
of
course,
the
position
that
Lewis
([3])
is
urging
is
that

there
is
such
a
thing
as
the
proposition
expressed
by
(3),
that
(1)
is

true,
and
that
Pierre
does
not
believe
the
proposition
actually

expressed
by
(3);
it
is
not
the
view
that
Pierre
does
not
believe
the

proposition
expressed
by
(3)
because
there
are
no
such
things
as

proposition
or
because
there
is
no
such
thing
as
the
proposition

expressed
by
(3).
So,
if
we
want
to
bolster
the
impression
that

considerations
of
the
sort
now
under
consideration
provide
good

evidence
against
Lewis’s
position,
we
can
modify
our
new
objection
as

follows:


P1.
 If
the
sentence
‘Pierre
believes
that
London
is
pretty’
is
true,

      then
Pierre
believes
that
London
is
pretty.


P2.
 If
there
are
any
such
things
as
propositions,
then
Pierre



                                     7


        believes
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty
if
and
only
if
he

        believes
that
London
is
pretty.


P3.
 If
there
is
any
such
thing
as
the
proposition
(actually)

        expressed
by
the
sentence
‘London
is
pretty’,
then
the

        proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence
London
is

        pretty
is
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty.


P4.
 If
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence
‘London

        is
pretty’
is
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty,
then
Pierre

        believes
the
proposition
that
London
is
pretty
if
and
only
if
he

        believes
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence

        ‘London
is
pretty’.

C.
     So,
it
is
not
the
case
that:
(i)
the
sentence
‘Pierre
believes
that

        London
is
pretty’
is
true,
(ii)
Pierre
does
not
believe
the

        proposition
(actually)
expressed
by
the
sentence
‘London
is

        pretty’,
(iii)
there
are
such
things
as
propositions,
and
(iv)

        there
is
such
a
thing
as
the
proposition
(actually)
expressed

        by
the
sentence
‘London
is
pretty’.
(From
P1‐P4)





                                       II


Claims
similar
to
those
Lewis
makes
regarding
(1)‐(4)
play
a

significant
role
in
the
best
known
strategy
(see
[8])
for
defending
the

view
that
the
propositional
objects
of
belief
and
assertion
are
sets
of

metaphysically
possible
worlds
from
certain
standard
objections.


      Consider,
for
example,
the
standard
complaint
that
the
sets‐of‐
possible‐worlds
view
mistakenly
predicts
that
no
one
has
ever

believed
or
asserted
any
necessary
falsehood
(See,
for
example,

Soames
[7,
199]).
The
set
of
worlds
in
which
a
proposition
is
true,
the

complaint
begins,
is
always
identical
to
the
set
in
which
its

conjunction
with
any
necessary
consequences
of
it
is
true.
So,
on
the


                                        8


view
in
question,
a
proposition
is
always
identical
to
its
conjunction

with
any
necessary
consequence
of
it.
Moreover,
a
necessarily
false

proposition
has
every
proposition
as
a
necessary
consequence.
So,
a

necessary
false
proposition
is
identical
to
its
conjunction
with
any

proposition
whatsoever.
However,
belief
and
assertion
distribute
over

conjunction;
that
is,
whenever
anyone
has
believed
or
asserted
a

conjunctive
proposition
she
has
also
believed
or
asserted
each
of
its

conjuncts.2
So,
if
the
sets‐of‐possible‐worlds
view
is
correct,
an

individual
has
believed
or
asserted
a
necessary
falsehood
only
if
she

has
believed
or
asserted
every
proposition
there
is!
But
surely
no
one

has
ever
believed
or
asserted
every
proposition
there
is.
So,
if
the

view
in
question
is
correct,
no
one
has
ever
believed
or
asserted
any

necessary
falsehood.
This,
the
worry
continues,
is
an
unacceptable

result
because
many
have
believed
and
asserted
necessary
falsehoods.

For
example,
many
have
believed
or
asserted
the
propositions

expressed
by


(8)
 Hesperus
isn’t
Phosphorus




and


(9)
 There
is
a
set
of
all
sets


and
these
propositions
are
(plausibly)
not
only
false,
but
necessarily

so.





The
best
known
response
([6])
to
this
sort
of
worry
is
to
maintain
that

no
one
has
ever
believed
or
asserted
either
the
proposition
expressed

by
(8)
or
the
proposition
expressed
by
(9)
while
also
maintaining
that

sentences


































































2
 That belief and assertion at least contingently distribute over conjunction is all that is
needed for the complaint to go through.

                                                               9


(10)
 Many
have
believed
(asserted)
that
Hesperus
isn’t
Phosphorus


and



(11)
 Many
have
believed
(asserted)
that
there
is
a
set
of
all
sets


are
true.
The
thought
here
is
that
when
it
seems
to
us
that
many
have

believed
a
necessary
falsehood
because
many
have
believed
the

propositions
expressed
by
(8)
and
(9),
this
involves
our
correctly

recognizing
that
(10)
and
(11)
are
true
and
mistakenly
concluding
on

this
basis
that
many
have
believed
the
propositions
expressed
by
(8)

and
(9).
This,
it
is
suggested,
gives
rise
to
the
misimpression
that

people
often
believe
and
assert
necessary
falsehoods.
Similarly,
for
all

other
alleged
cases
of
belief
or
assertion
of
a
necessary
falsehood.








    An
objection
exactly
parallel
to
that
arrived
at
in
the
previous

section,
however,
makes
this
sort
of
response
look
rather
implausible

and
it
thereby
bolsters
the
above‐considered
criticism
of
the
sets‐of‐
possible‐worlds
view:






P1.
 If
the
sentence
‘Many
have
believed
(asserted)
that
Hesperus

        isn’t
Phosphorus’
is
true,
then
many
have
believed
(asserted)

        that
Hesperus
isn’t
Phosphorus.

P2.
 Many
have
believed
(asserted)
that
Hesperus
isn’t
Phosphorus
if

        and
only
if
many
have
believed
(asserted)
the
proposition
that

        Hesperus
isn’t
Phosphorus.


P3.
 The
proposition
expressed
by
the
sentence
‘Hesperus
isn’t

        Phosphorus’
is
the
proposition
that
Hesperus
isn’t
Phosphorus.

P4.
 If
the
proposition
expressed
by
the
sentence
‘Hesperus
isn’t

        Phosphorus’
is
the
proposition
that
Hesperus
isn’t
Phosphorus,

        then
many
have
believed
the
proposition
that
Hesperus
isn’t

        Phosphorus
if
and
only
if
many
have
believed
the
proposition

        expressed
by
the
sentence
‘Hesperus
isn’t
Phosphorus’




                                       10


C.
   So,
it
is
not
the
case
that
the
sentence
‘Many
have
believed

      (asserted)
that
Hesperus
isn’t
Phosphorus’
is
true
and
that
no

      one
has
ever
believed
(asserted)
the
proposition
expressed
by

      the
sentence
‘Hesperus
isn’t
Phosphorus’.
(From
C1,
P3,
and
P4)

      

When
we
consider
in
detail
how
one
might
explicitly
reason
from
the

claim
that
(10)
is
true
to
the
claim
that
many
have
believed
or

asserted
the
proposition
expressed
by
(8),
we
do
not
find
dubious

lacuna.
On
the
contrary,
what
we
find
is
a
rather
compelling
pattern
of

reasoning
that
appears
to
provide
powerful
evidence
against
the

suggested
response
on
behalf
of
the
sets‐of‐possible‐worlds
view.

Similarly,
for
(9)
and
(11)
and
other
such
cases.





As
in
the
case
of
the
objection
arrived
at
in
the
previous
section,
the

impression
that
the
suggested
response
on
behalf
of
the
sets‐of‐
worlds
view
is
not
only
false,
but
inconsistent
with
what
is
known
to

be
true
can
be
bolstered
through
appropriate
conditionalization.


                                              Michael
McGlone


                                              Department
of
Philosophy


                                              University
at
Buffalo,
SUNY


                                              mmcglone@buffalo.edu



                                References


[1]
 Alonzo
Church,
‘On
Carnap’s
Analysis
of
Statements
of
Assertion

      and
Belief’
10
(1950)
97‐9.

[2]
 Gottlob
Frege,
“On
Sense
and
Reference”,
Zeithshrift
fur

      Philosophie
und
Philosophische
Kritik
100
(1892):
25‐50.

      Reprinted
in
[].
Citations
are
to
the
reprint.



[3]
 Saul
Kripke,
‘A
Puzzle
About
Belief’,
in
A.
Margalit,
ed.,
Meaning

      and
Use
(Dordrecht:
Reidel,
1979)
239‐83.



                                      11


[4]
 David
Lewis,
‘What
Puzzling
Pierre
Does
Not
Believe’,
The

     Australasian
Journal
of
Philosophy
59
(1981)
283‐289.
Reprinted

     in
David
Lewis,
Papers
in
Metaphysics
and
Epistemology
(New

     York:
Cambridge
University
Press,
1999)
408‐17.
(Citations
are

     to
the
reprint.)

[5]
 G.
E.
Moore,
‘Propositions’,
in
G.E.
Moore,
Some
Main
Problems
of

     Philosophy
(New
York:
The
Humanities
Press,
1966)
52‐71.

[6]
 Bertrand
Russell,
“On
Denoting”,
Mind
15
(1905):
479‐493.

     Reprinted
in
A.
P.
Martinich,
ed.
The
Philosophy
of
Language

     (New
York:
Oxford
UP,
2001)

[7]
 Scott
Soames,
‘Direct
Reference,
Propositional
Attitudes,
and

     Semantic
Content’,
Philosophical
Topics
15
(1987)
47‐87.

     Reprinted
in
Nathan
Salmon
and
Scott
Soames,
eds.,
Propositions

     and
Attitudes
(New
York:
Oxford
University
Press,
1988)
197‐
     239.
(Citations
are
to
the
reprint.)



[8]
 Robert
Stalnaker,
‘Semantics
for
Belief’,
Philosophical
Topics
15

     (1987)
177‐90.

     








                                     12



				
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