The truth and nothing but the truth, yet never the whole truth: Frege, Russell and the analysis of unities

History and Philosophy of Logic 24 (3):221-240 (2003)
It is widely assumed that Russell's problems with the unity of the proposition were recurring and insoluble within the framework of the logical theory of his Principles of Mathematics. By contrast, Frege's functional analysis of thoughts (grounded in a type-theoretic distinction between concepts and objects) is commonly assumed to provide a solution to the problem or, at least, a means of avoiding the difficulty altogether. The Fregean solution is unavailable to Russell because of his commitment to the thesis that there is only one ultimate ontological category. This, combined with Russell's reification of propositions, ensures that he must hold concepts and objects to be of the same logical and ontological type. In this paper I argue that, while Frege's treatment of the unity of the proposition has immediate advantages over Russell's, a deeper consideration of the philosophical underpinnings and metaphysical consequences of the two approaches reveals that Frege's supposed solution is, in fact, far from satisfactory. Russell's repudiation of the Fregean position in the Principles is, I contend, convincing and Russell's own position, despite its problems, conforms to a greater extent than Frege's with common sense and, furthermore, with certain ideas which are central to our understanding of the origins of the analytical tradition
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/0144534031000139237
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,831
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 49 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

26 ( #115,441 of 1,724,852 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #349,138 of 1,724,852 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.