Pierre is from France and so speaks French. He sees pictures and postcards of a city called, ‘Londres.’ When asked in French whether he finds that city pretty, Pierre whole-heartedly and enthusiastically assents. He earnestly says things like, “Londres est jolie” (“London is pretty” in French). As a consequence, it seems correct to say that Pierre believes that London is pretty. After some time, Pierre moves to a town he knows by the name ‘London’—but he is not aware that it is the same town that he and other Frenchmen call ‘Londres.’ In addition, Pierre was unfortunate enough to have moved into a rather shoddy and rundown neighborhood, and so finds the town that he understands to be ‘London’ to be an extremely ugly place. Having learned quite a bit of English since his move, he adamantly assents to the English sentence, “London is not pretty.” As a result, it seems natural to say that Pierre believes that London is not pretty. Moreover, since he has not learned that ‘London’ and ‘Londres’ are names for the same city, he remains willing to assent to the sentence “Londres est jolie.” He clearly thinks that ‘London’ and ‘Londres’ name two different places.
On the basis of his French utterances it would appear natural to say that Pierre believes that London is pretty. At the same time, on the basis of his English utterances, it also seems fair to say that Pierre believes that London is not pretty. It might appear, then, that Pierre has contradictory beliefs. He seemingly both has the belief that London is pretty and has the belief that London is not pretty. The paradox, or so Kripke suggests, is that Pierre does not seem guilty of any logical error. In this scenario, it would be rather perverse to accuse Pierre of logical inconsistency. After all, he is simply not aware that ‘Londres’ and ‘London’ name the same city. In regard to Pierre’s lamentable circumstance, we are faced with an intriguing philosophical question—namely: What exactly does Pierre believe about the attractiveness of London?