Modes of presentation are often posited to accommodate Frege’s puzzle. Philosophers differ, however, in whether they follow Frege in identifying modes of presentation with Fregean senses, or instead take them to be formally individuated symbols of “Mentalese”. Building on Fodor, Margolis and Laurence defend the latter view by arguing that the mind-independence of Fregean senses renders them ontologically suspect in a way that Mentalese symbols are not. This paper shows how Fregeans can withstand this objection. Along the way, a clearer (...) understanding emerges of what senses must be to serve as an ontologically benign alternative to symbols of Mentalese. (shrink)
Michael Beaney has argued that Frege’s characterization of the senses of names as modes of presentation early in “On Sense and Reference” is problematic, but the problem disappears if we use the notion of modes of determination as that was deployed in the Begriffsschrift to characterize senses. It is argued that there is no philosophically interesting difference between the two notions, and no problem posed by modes of presentation that would be resolved by appeal to modes of determination.
In Frege’s Puzzle, Nathan Salmon takes it to be obvious that the fact that names such as ‘Hesperus’ and ‘Phosphorus’ are coreferential is purely a matter of arbitrary linguistic convention, while the fact that Hesperus is Phosphorus is by no means a conventional matter. Salmon also takes these points to be ones to which Frege appeals in the opening paragraph of “On Sense and Reference,” and hence finds it ironic that these points undercut the theory of sense that Frege develops (...) in that paper. It is argued that the thesis that the coreferentiality of a pair of proper names is purely a matter of arbitrary linguistic convention is inconsistent with any plausible theory of reference. Salmon’s reading of Frege’s argument is also called into question. (shrink)
Semantic externalism in contemporary philosophy of language typically – and often tacitly – combines two supervenience claims about idiolectical meaning (i.e., meaning in the language system of an individual speaker). The first claim is that the meaning of a word in a speaker’s idiolect may vary without any variation in her intrinsic, physical properties. The second is that the meaning of a word in a speaker’s idiolect may vary without any variation in her understanding of its use. I here show (...) that a conception of idiolectical meaning is possible that accepts the “anti-internalism” of the first claim while rejecting (what I shall refer to as) the “anti-individualism” of the second. According to this conception, externally constituted idiolectical meaning supervenes on idiolectical understanding. (shrink)
Tyler Burge presents a collection of his seminal essays on Gottlob Frege (1848-1925), who has a strong claim to be seen as the founder of modern analytic philosophy, and whose work remains at the centre of philosophical debate today. Truth, Thought, Reason gathers some of Burge's most influential work from the last twenty-five years, and also features important new material, including a substantial introduction and postscripts to four of the ten papers. It will be an essential resource for any historian (...) of modern philosophy, and for anyone working on philosophy of language, epistemology, or philosophical logic. (shrink)
Theories of linguistic meaning have been a major influence in twentieth century philosophy. This is due, in part, to the assumption that meaning is the crucial and interesting thing about language. To know the meaning of an expression is to understand it, and since understanding is central to philosophy in many different ways, it should be no surprise that the notion of meaning has often taken center stage. The aim of this paper is to briefly explore some influential views concerning (...) linguistic meaning. The final objective will be to demonstrate some alternatives which are open to theory with respect to this notion¾for there are those who have wanted to ban talk of meaning from serious scientific discourse. The point is that many of the disadvantages of traditional notions of meaning are avoidable¾in particular, they are avoidable along a path which starts from Frege and moves on via Tarski and Davidson. (shrink)
This book provides a concise overview, with excellent historical and systematic coverage, of the problems of the philosophy of language in the analytic tradition. Howard Callaway explains and explores the relation of language to the philosophy of mind and culture, to the theory of knowledge, and to ontology. He places the question of linguistic meaning at the center of his investigations. The teachings of authors who have become classics in the field, including Frege, Russell, Carnap, Quine, Davidson, and Putnam are (...) critically analyzed. I share completely his conviction that contemporary Anglo-American philosophy follows the spirit of the enlightenment in insisting on intellectual sincerity, clarity, and the willingness to meet scientific doubts or objections openly. --Professor Henri Lauener, Editor of Dialectica. (shrink)
Gottlob Frege has exerted an enormous influence on the evolution of twentieth-century philosophy, yet the real significance of that influence is still very much a matter of debate. This book provides a completely new and systematic account of Frege's philosophy by focusing on its cornerstone: the theory of sense and reference. Two features distinguish this study from other books on Frege. First, sense and reference are placed absolutely at the core of Frege's work; the author shows that no adequate account (...) of the theory can avoid analysing the notion of thought that underpins it, or explaining how it has clarified our concept of judgement. Second, the theory is situated within the development of Frege's thought; the author reveals how the theory caused Frege to alter many of his fundamental views. In doing so the author presents a clearer picture of the problems the theory was intended to solve, and delineates more sharply the characteristic features of Frege's philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper I present an abstract theory of senses, thoughts, and truth, inspired by ideas of Frege. "Inspired" because for the most part I shall not pretend to interpret Frege in a literal sense, but, rather, develop some of his ideas in ways that seem to me to preserve important aspects of them. Senses are characterized as identifying properties; i.e., roughly, as properties that apply, in virtue of their logical structure, to exactly one thing, if they apply to anything (...) at all. When Frege's analysis of sentences in terms of function and arguments is combined with his analysis of quantification as higher-order predication, all sentences (formal and informal) can be analyzed in various ways as a function (predicate) applied to one or more arguments. This allows for an abstract characterization of thoughts as senses that combine other senses in a uniform way, and whose truth derives from their instantiation by corresponding items of reality. (shrink)
In the new metalanguage of semantics, it is possible to make statements about the relation of designation and about truth.... To me the usefulness of semantics for philosophy was so obvious that I believed no further arguments were required and it was suﬃcient to list a great number of customary concepts of a semantical nature ([Carnap, 1963], 60–62).
I argue that Kant's and Frege's refutations of the ontological argument are more similar than has generally been acknowledged. As I clarify, for both Kant and Frege, to say that something exists is to assert of a concept that it is instantiated. With such an assertion one expresses that there is a particular relation between the instantiating object and a rational subject - a particular mode of presentation for the object in question. By its very nature such a relation cannot (...) be the property of an object and thus cannot be included in the concept of that object. Thus the ontological argument, which takes existence to be a part of the concept of the supreme being, cannot, according to Kant and Frege, succeed. A secondary goal of the paper is to illuminate what I take to be an important affinity between Kant's and Frege's views more generally: that Frege's fundamental distinction between the sense and the referent of a proposition echoes, in an important way, Kant's distinction between concepts and the formal principles for their application to experience. (shrink)
This paper continues Michael Dummett's and my discussion of Frege in The Philosophy of Michael Dummett . Most of it is about Dummett’s change in view on Frege’s senses and objects. The issues include: the cognitive order versus the ontological order for the forward road; the nature and identity of senses and the different senses of "intension;" the nature of saturation; whether special quantifiers are now needed for senses; and Frege’s earlier and later permutation arguments. I discuss the implications of (...) the forward road for intuitionism as well. (shrink)
According to Epistemic Two-Dimensional Semantics (E2D), expressions have a counterfactual intension and an epistemic intension. Epistemic intensions reflect cognitive significance such that sentences with necessary epistemic intensions are a priori. We defend E2D against an influential line of criticism: arguments from epistemic misclassification. We focus in particular on the arguments of Speaks  and Schroeter . Such arguments conclude that E2D is mistaken from (i) the claim that E2D is committed to classifying certain sentences as a priori, and (ii) the (...) claim that such sentences are a posteriori. We aim to show that these arguments are unsuccessful as (i) and (ii) undercut each other. One must distinguish the general framework of E2D from a specific implementation of it. The framework is flexible enough to avoid commitment to the apriority of any particular sentence; only specific implementations are so committed. Arguments from epistemic misclassification are therefore better understood as arguments for favouring one implementation of E2D over another, rather than as refutations of E2D. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that, in order to make (T1) and (T2) compatible within a Fregean approach, we must reject the view that all modes of presentation are senses. (T1) There is a diversity of ways in which Venus may be presented to each subject, and which are associated with the name ‘Venus’. (T2) There is only one Fregean thought expressed by the sentence ‘Venus is a planet’. Modes of presentation are essentially psychological and have causal powers on minds. (...) The mind of a subject is sensitive to differences in modes of presentation, so that if an object is presented to a subject under different modes of presentation and she has no reason to believe that they are modes of presentation of one and the same object, then she may take opposing attitudes involving those different modes of presentation. In contrast, senses are essentially semantic. For this reason, I propose that they be understood as certain ways of determining the reference of terms, and either are given by the semantic rules for those terms or are identical to those semantic rules. I agree with McDowell that an interpretive truth-theory for a language L gives us a theory of sense for L, and that something like (V) ‘Venus’ refers to Venus will give us the axiom which assigns the semantic value for ‘Venus’ within such a theory, and which is necessary in order to derive the interpretive truth-conditions of a sentence like ‘Venus is a planet’. An axiom like ‘Venus’ refers to Hesperus will not do within a theory of sense. Nonetheless, it will do within a theory of reference, a truth-theory which delivers not interpretive truth-conditions, but purely referential truth conditions. The purely referential truth-conditions for an indicative atomic sentence are, I claim, those which are specified by specifying those features in the world (objects, properties, etc.) to which the meaningful parts of the sentence refer, representing them as related in a certain way. For the specification of such truth-conditions, the difference in cognitive value between two sentences will not matter, whereas it will matter for the specification of interpretive truth-conditions. Now, senses are introduced to allow for an explanation of the difference in cognitive value between sentences with the same purely referential truth-conditions. An indication of when two sentences differ in cognitive value is when it is possible for a subject who is rational and understands the language in question to take opposing attitudes to those sentences (or their contents —whatever those contents are); and if there is in fact such a subject who takes opposing attitudes to those sentences, then those sentences differ in their cognitive value. Given this connection between cognitive value and a subject’s attitudes, and given the purpose for which senses are introduced, we must suppose that a subject’s mind must be sensitive to differences in senses, and so, that senses must be psychologically relevant. My proposal, which aims to establish some kind of identity between some modes of presentation under certain conditions and those ways of determination which are senses, is as follows: A psychological mode of presentation M is a way of determination which is a sense relative to a particular expression e in a public language L which aids in expressing propositional attitude P if and only if i the subject who has M and who is sufficiently competent in L knows (or realizes) that M goes with e in L; ii no other proposition e′ in L is more adequate for reporting the subject’s propositional attitude P; iii M is crucial in the subject’s rational failure to make certain identifications; and iv M is an appropriate function to an appropriate reference. Only the mode of presentation associated with ‘Venus’ that satisfies conditions i-iv relative to ‘Venus’ which aids in expressing a propositional attitude like the belief that Venus is a planet, will be the sense of ‘Venus’. I argue that only the mode of presentation of Venus as Venus will do, and that such mode of presentation is implicit in the way of determination shown by (V). Other modes of presentation of Venus as being big or appearing in the sky in the evenings or being the second planet in proximity to the sun will not satisfy conditions i–iv. Thus, although a subject may have all these modes of presentation of Venus and associate them with ‘Venus’ (i.e. (T1)), only the mode of presentation of Venus as Venus will do as the sense of ‘Venus’. Hence, only one thought will be expressed by a sentence like ‘Venus is a planet’ (i.e. (T2)). (shrink)
Millianism is reasonable; that is, it is reasonable to think that all there is to the semantic value of a proper name is its referent. But Millianism appears to be undermined by the falsehood of Substitutivity, the principle that interchanging coreferential proper names in an intentional context cannot change the truth value of the resulting belief report. Mary might be perfectly rational in assenting to ‘Twain was a great writer’ as well as ‘Clemens was not a great writer’. Her confusion (...) does not seem to preclude her from assenting to those sentences in a normal, understanding manner. That is, Assent-for-Mary is true: Mary can knowingly assent to ‘Twain was a great writer’ and ‘Clemens was not a great writer’. By Disquotation—the rough principle that if in ordinary circumstances one assents to “P”, then one believes that P—Mary believes that Twain was a great writer and she believes that it’s not the case that Clemens was a great writer. If Substitutivity were true, then since ‘Mary believes that Twain was a great writer’ is true, ‘Mary believes that Clemens was a great writer’ would have to be true too. But then Mary would amount to a refutation of the plausible principle Consistency that, roughly put, no rational adult can have occurrently held and reflectively considered and compared contradictory beliefs. Since Disquotation, Assent-for-Mary, and Consistency are true, Substitutivity has to go. (shrink)
Equality1 gives rise to challenging questions which are not altogether easy to answer. Is it a relation? A relation between objects, or between names or signs of objects? In my Begriffsschrift I assumed the latter. The reasons which seem to favour this are the following: a = a and a = b are obviously statements of differing cognitive value; a = a holds a priori and, according to Kant, is to be labeled analytic, while statements of the form a = (...) b often contain very valuable extensions of our knowledge and cannot always be established a priori. The discovery that the rising sun is not new every morning, but always the same, was one of the most fertile astronomical discoveries. Even to-day the identification of a small planet or a comet is not always a matter of course. Now if we were to regard equality as a relation between that which the names ‘a’ and ‘b’ designate, it would seem that a = b could not differ from a = a (i.e. provided a = b is true). A relation would thereby be expressed of a thing to itself, and indeed one in which each thing stands to itself but to no other thing. What is intended to be said by a = b seems to be that the signs or names ‘a’ and ‘b’ designate the same thing, so that those signs themselves would be under discussion; a relation between them would be asserted. But this relation would hold between the names or signs only in so far as they named or designated something. It would be mediated by the connexion of each of the two signs with the same designated thing. But this is arbitrary. Nobody can be forbidden to use any arbitrarily producible event or object as a sign for something. In that case the sentence a = b would no longer refer to the subject matter, but only to its mode of designation; we would express no proper knowledge by its means. But in many cases this is just what we want to do. If the sign ‘a’ is distinguished from the sign ‘b’ only as object (here, by means of its shape), not as sign (i.e. not by the manner in which it designates something), the cognitive value of a = a becomes essentially equal to that of a = b, provided a = b is true.. (shrink)
This book is an analysis of Frege's views on language metaphysics raised in On Sense Reference, arguably one of the most important philosophical essays of the past hundred years. It provides a thorough introduction to the function/argument analysis and applies Frege's technique to the central notions of predication, identity, existence and truth. Of particular interest is the analysis of the Paradox of Identity and a discussion of three solutions: the little-known Begriffsschrift solution, the sense/reference solution, and Russell's 'On Denoting' solution. (...) Russell's views wend their way through the work, serving as a foil to Frege. Appendices give the proofs of the first 68 propositions of Begriffsschrift in modern notation. This book will be of interest to students and professionals in philosophy and linguistics. (shrink)
Considers the question of the authorship of the works in the title from a /philosophical/, as opposed to legal, standpoint, using the sense-reference dichotomy, intension-extension dichotomy, and procedural knowledge-declarative knowledge dichotomy. Reaches no conclusion.
Functionalists think an event's causes and effects, its 'causal role', determines whether it is a mental state and, if so, which kind. Functionalists see this causal role principle as supporting their orthodox materialism, their commitment to the neuroscientist's ontology. I examine and refute the functionalist's causal principle and the orthodox materialism that attends that principle.
Frege’s celebrated distinction between judgments and their contents invites the Tractarian denigration of his assertion sign as merely indicating the holding or putting forth as true of a thought, for whatever its other merits the marking of such an event seems of little relevance to a thought’s inferential significance. However, in light of (a) Frege’s conception of a logically correct language serving inter alia as an organon for the acquisition or reconstruction of knowledge, and (b) his epistemic conception of inference, (...) it is argued that the sign of assertion is a device for distinguishing from all others those thoughts lying on the path of discovery. The drawing of such a distinction is then shown to be of inferential significance by elucidating Frege’s conception of inference as involving the acquisition or reconstruction of knowledge. Frege’s view of inference rules as codifying justificatory relations among judgments is then given an interpretation as making no undue use of psychological notions, and his denial that the assertion sign can have semantic content is shown to be mistaken but not in such a way as to frustrate the aim with which it is introduced. (shrink)
We examine a crucial question for the World Wide Web: What does a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) mean? Crucial for the next-generation Semantic Web, can it refer to things outside web-pages? The Web is a universal information space for naming and accessing information via URIs. However, the classical philosophical problems of meaning and reference that have been the source of debate within the philosophy of language return when the Web is given as the foundation for a knowledge representation with the (...) Semantic Web. Debates on the Semantic Web about the meaning and referential status of a URI are explored as analogues to debates about the meaning and reference of names in the philosophy of language. Three main positions are inspected: the logical position, as exemplified by the descriptivist theory of reference, the direct reference position, as exemplified by Putnam and Kripke’s causal theory of reference, and a Wittgensteinian position that views URIs as a public language, as exemplified by Web search engines. These positions show that debates within the philosophy of language are alive and well on the Web, and so in the philosophy of computer science. (shrink)
Frege's puzzle for demonstratives is accounting for the cognitive significance of identity statements containing demonstratives, such as "That [demonstration-1] is identical to that [demonstration-2]". Since the demonstrative 'that' makes the same semantic contribution (has the same 'character') on both occurrences, the difference must be due to the cognitive significance or 'senses' of the associated demonstrations. But what is the sense of a demonstration? Kaplan's suggested solutions in terms of gestures and appearances are not compatible with his general theory, and do (...) not work - a different solution must be found. (shrink)
Frege held that referring expressions in general, and demonstratives and indexicals in particular, contribute more than just their reference to what is expressed by utterances of sentences containing them. Heck first attempts to get clear about what the essence of the Fregean view is, arguing that it rests upon a certain conception of linguistic communication that is ultimately indefensible. On the other hand, however, he argues that understanding a demonstrative (or indexical) utterance requires one to think of the object denoted (...) in an appropriate way. This fact makes it difficult to reconcile the view that referring expressions are "directly referential" with any view that seeks (as Grice's does) to ground meaning in facts about communication. (shrink)
Many philosophers nowadays believe Frege was right about belief, but wrong about language: The contents of beliefs need to be individuated more finely than in terms of Russellian propositions, but the contents of utterances do not. I argue that this 'hybrid view' cannot offer no reasonable account of how communication transfers knowledge from one speaker to another and that, to do so, we must insist that understanding depends upon more than just getting the references of terms right.
Are Fregean thoughts compositionally complex and composed of senses? We argue that, in Begriffsschrift, Frege took 'conceptual contents' to be unstructured, but that he quickly moved away from this position, holding just two years later that conceptual contents divide of themselves into 'function' and 'argument'. This second position is shown to be unstable, however, by Frege's famous substitution puzzle. For Frege, the crucial question the puzzle raises is why "The Morning Star is a planet" and "The Evening Star is a (...) planet" have different contents, but his second position predicts that they should have the same content. Frege's response to this antinomy is of course to distinguish sense from reference, but what has not previously been noticed is that this response also requires thoughts to be compositionally complex, composed of senses. That, however, raises the question just how thoughts are composed from senses. We reconstruct a Fregean answer, one that turns on an insistence that this question must be understood as semantic rather than metaphysical. It is not a question about the intrinsic nature of residents of the third realm but a question about how thoughts are expressed by sentences. (shrink)
An investigation of Frege's various contributions to the study of language, focusing on three of his most famous doctrines: that concepts are unsaturated, that sentences refer to truth-values, and that sense must be distinguished from reference.
Logicism is, roughly speaking, the doctrine that mathematics is fancy logic. So getting clear about the nature of logic is a necessary step in an assessment of logicism. Logic is the study of logical concepts, how they are expressed in languages, their semantic values, and the relationships between these things and the rest of our concepts, linguistic expressions, and their semantic values. A logical concept is what can be expressed by a logical constant in a language. So the question “What (...) is logic?” drives us to the question “What is a logical constant?” Though what follows contains some argument, limitations of space constrain me in large part to express my Credo on this topic with the broad brush of bold assertion and some promissory gestures. (shrink)
There is a parallel between Plato's argument for the forms at 74b7-c5 in the Phaedo and Frege's argument for the claim that proper names express senses. There is also, I claim, an important asymmetry. The asymmetry explains why it is consistent to accept the conclusion of the Phaedo argument without accepting the conclusion of Frege's argument. The Phaedo argument turns on the possibility of a specific kind of mistaken judgement that may be termed "brute error". Frege's argument does not so (...) depend on the possibility of brute error. (shrink)