Date of Completion


Embargo Period



beliefs, belief reports, Direct Reference, mental files, pretense, propositional attitude reports, Russellianism

Major Advisor

William Lycan

Associate Advisor

Samuel Wheeler

Associate Advisor

Marcus Rossberg

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


To resolve Frege’s puzzle we must understand how cognitive agents grasp or conceive of individuals such that they may incorrectly grasp what there is. That requires positing mental files: mental representations of individuals in-and-of themselves (rather than in terms of their properties). The semantics of belief reports must have something to do with the psychology of believing, for it is in virtue of hearers’ understanding of the psychological states of the agent that hearers evaluate belief reports the way they do. If extant accounts of substitution failure are to be understood as bridging this gap they must be understood as requiring Fregean modes of presentation. But, Fregean modes of presentation are abstracta which we want to avoid appealing to. We must instead appeal to psychological implementations of modes of presentation: mental files. However, doing so pushes us in the direction that in the cases of substitution failure hearers are talking/thinking as if the coreferring names involved are not coreferring at all and refer to distinct individuals. That is, hearers are ‘thinking apart’ the concerned individual. It remains then no mystery why otherwise coreferring names may not anymore be substituted for each other. That puzzle is now replaced with the puzzle of how come such talking/thinking as if something is the case, even when hearers know it is not, may still lead hearers to take the concerned sentences as being true (or false) of the world itself. I then look to provide a solution to this puzzle.