In this essay, I am going to argue that the problem of belief reports show that Millianism is not false. First, I am going to explain it in the Descriptivist view. Second, I am going to discuss the hidden-indexical in belief reports.
(1) Julian believes that Adele has music talent.
(2) Julian disbelieves that Adele has music talent.
It seems that Julian believes and disbelieves the same thing. In the Descriptivist view, they can be both true. The that -clauses in (3) does not specify which thing Julian believes, the that -clause in (4) does not specify which thing Julian does not believe.
So, they need not to be the same thing, and it is not necessary to suppose that either of these things is the proposition, that Adele has music talent, expressed by the that -clause in both utterances. To Bach (1997), any reason to suppose that Julian believes the proposition would be an equally good reason to suppose that Julian disbelieves the proposition.
But Julian does not believe or disbelieve the same proposition. From the example, that -clauses are not content clauses. Bach (1997) mentions, even though that -clauses in (1) and (2) express propositions, belief reports do not specify things people believe or disbelieve they barely describe or characterize them. A that -clause is merely a descriptor of it, not a specifier of the thing believed. A believe report can still be true even if what the person believes is more specific than the proposition expressed by that -clause used to characterize what one believes. To descriptivists, the condition on the truth of a belief report is that, the believer believes a specific thing which requires the truth of the proposition expressed by the that -clause in belief report (Bach, 1997). So, to make (3) true, Julian must believe a thing that requires the truth of that Adele has music talent. Although it shows that there is certain one named Adele that Julian refers to, it does not specify who he is talking about. Since the believe reports do not characterize that same beliefs, it is possible that (3) and (4) can be true at the same time and do not contradict with each other.
(3) Jack thinks that Ironman is smart.
(4) Jack thinks that Tony Stark is smart.
To people who believe in hidden-indexical theory, they would say that, what explain how (5) and (6) are different in truth value is not what they say explicitly about what Jack believes, but what they say implicitly about how he believes it. It shows that Jack believes both (5) and (6) but not in the same way. The beliefs that both utterances impute to Jack differ in the way which he is being said to be taking the singular proposition that Ironman or Tony Stark is smart. Here, it seems that for this approach to preserve Innocence, it has to give up Compositionality. The that -clause in a sentence may consider as an unarticulated constituent of the proposition expressed by belief report. Yet, there is no syntactic basis for the contention. In the linguists point of view, the sentence (5) does not contain empty category for the so-called unarticulated constituent. So, it is free from supposing that the belief sentence expresses a claim which contains an unarticulated constituent for a way of taking the claim expressed by the that -clause, according to Bach (1997). But in the Principle of Full Articulation, Crimmins (1992) suggests that sentences such as Matt is done and Kate is ready, both are missing an argument, but they do not express propositions with unarticulated constituent as they do not tend to express them at all. If a sentence is used to present a proposition, it must have a proposition as the semantic value. Crimmins (1992) fails to consider the possibility of semantically incompleteness in a sentence. Another problem is that, the theory claims that that -clauses are contextually sensitive, it claims that the clause itself is referring to a quasi-singular. In this way, it indeed preserves Compositionality, but only at a expense of Innocence. To Millianists, it is possible to say that that -clause in a belief reports is referring to the singular proposition, that the person is being told to believe. However, they can still claim that (5) must be true if (6) is true. There is a way of accepting the claim that Ironman is smart, the one pragmatically expressed by a sentence of (6), whereby Jack does think that Ironman is smart. Therefore, Millianism is still plausible.
To sum up, it may seem that Millianism shows a person believes and disbelieves the same thing. There are problems on belief reports, they can be solved in the Descriptivist view and the hidden-indexical in belief reports. That -clause need not to be the same thing in two utterances, and it is not necessary to suppose that either of these things is the proposition. Also, that -clause in a belief reports is referring to the singular proposition, that the person is being told to believe. Then we can say that, it is not necessary to suppose that the belief sentence expresses a claim which contains an unarticulated constituent for a way of taking the claim expressed by the that -clause Therefore, the problem of belief reports can be solved, and it does not show that Millianism is false. ?