Acta Cogitata: An Undergraduate Journal in Philosophy


Although replacing one proper name with another that refers to the same person does not change the truth-value of a declarative statement, it affects the truth-value of propositional attitude reports, which are cognitive relations that people hold towards propositions. Frege’s Substitution Puzzle about propositional attitude reports essentially asks an important question: if two proper names co-refer in a certain linguistic community, then why does their intersubstitutability produce propositional attitude reports (that contain those proper names) with opposite truth-values? This paper attempts to explain how Description Theory of Names and Direct Reference Theory, two theories of proper names, solve Frege’s Substitution Puzzle. According to the Description Theory of Names, a proper name has both a sense and a reference. In other words, a proper name expresses its sense as a descriptive meaning and it designates a specific referent. Descriptivists solve the puzzle by rejecting the Principle of Intersubstitutability of names due to their reference shift in attitude contexts; because two proper names do not entail the same sense, they cannot co-refer in attitude context and therefore are not intersubstitutable in indirect discourse. Contrary to the Description Theory of Names, Direct Reference Theory argues that a proper name is a rigid designator without any connotative attributes. It simply picks out objects and living things in possible worlds. Direct Reference Theorist solve the puzzle by stating that the seeming contradiction in the truthvalues of propositional attitude reports containing co-referential names occurs because of the differing truth-values of the pragmatically implicated statements. Furthermore, this essay concludes with an argument for why Direct Reference Theory is a stronger view than Description Theory of Names.

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