Organon F

Volume 28, February 2021, Issue 1, Pages 135–167

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article | Special issue on Names and Fictions

How Can Millians Believe in Superheroes?

Juliana Faccio Lima


What is the content of beliefs expressed by sentences with fictional names? Millianism has notoriously struggled to give a satisfactory answer to this question. Some Millians have argued that fictional names are empty names. But such a view entails that the belief that Superman has impressive superpowers and the belief that Aquaman has impressive superpowers have the same content, contrary to our intuitions. Others have argued that fictional names refer to fictional entities. But this view has a long-standing problem, Frege’s Puzzle, and many philosophers are skeptical that Millians have successfully addressed it, despite commendable efforts. In this paper, I put forward a different Millian Theory of fictional proper names that by-passes these and other objections related to belief content. The novelty of my proposal partially rests on a distinction I draw between semantic content and belief content—as opposed to a distinction between belief content and belief state or a way of grasping the content, as it is commonly found in Millian accounts—in a framework where belief contents are not part of the meaning of names.


Belief content, empty names; Frege’s Puzzle; belief ascription, Millianism.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)


Juliana Faccio Lima 


Ashoka University


Department of Philosophy, Plot No. 2, Rajiv Gandhi Education City, National Capital Region P.O.Rai, Sonepat Haryana-131029, India


About this article


13 April 2020


24 October 2020

Published online

28 February 2021


Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as


Faccio Lima, J. (2021). How Can Millians Believe in Superheroes? Organon F, 28(1), 135–167.


Faccio Lima, Juliana. 2021. "How Can Millians Believe in Superheroes?" Organon F 28 (1): 135–167.


Faccio Lima, J. (2021). How Can Millians Believe in Superheroes? Organon F, 28(1), pp. 135–167.

Copyright information

© Juliana Faccio Lima

Response page 

The above URL is linked with the article's response page. The response page is a permanent location that is associated with the article's DOI number.

This article is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Institute of Philosophy
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Klemensova 19
813 64 Bratislava
Slovak Republic
(+421 2) 5292 1215
FAX (+421 2) 5292 1215

Organon F takes part on the long-term preservation of the digital cultural heritage carried out by the University Library in Bratislava.