Anti-Substitution Intuitions and the Content of Belief Reports

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Philosophers of language traditionally take it that anti-substitution intuitions teach us about the content of belief reports. Jennifer Saul [1997, 2002 (with David Braun), 2007] challenges this lesson. Here I offer a response to Saul’s challenge. In the first two sections of the article, I present a common sense justification for drawing conclusions about content from anti-substitution intuitions. Then, in Sect. 3, I outline Saul’s challenge—what she calls ‘the Enlightenment Problem’. Finally, in Sect. 4, I argue that Saul’s challenge does not undermine the common sense justification presented in Sects. 1 and 2. I avoid the challenge by arguing that anti-substitution intuitions are not directly sensitive to the content of the sentences that produce them, but rather to the possibility that one could have distinct ways of thinking about an object.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-329
Number of pages13
JournalActa Analytica
Issue number3
Early online date27 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014

Bibliographical note

Thanks to David Liggins, Joe Morrison, Arash Pessian, Bob Plant, Jennifer Saul, and Crispin Wright, all of whom provided substantial and invaluable commentary on this article and related work.


  • Frege’s puzzle
  • Propositional attitude ascriptions
  • Names
  • Anti-substitution intuitions
  • Simple sentences
  • Jennifer Saul


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