I. Frege as a Realist

Inquiry 19 (1-4):455-468 (1976)
H. Sluga (Inquiry, Vol. 18 [1975], No. 4) has criticized me for representing Frege as a realist. He holds that, for Frege, abstract objects were not real: this rests on a mistranslation and a neglect of Frege's contextual principle. The latter has two aspects: as a thesis about sense, and as one about reference. It is only under the latter aspect that there is any tension between it and realism: Frege's later silence about the principle is due, not to his realism, but to his assimilating sentences to proper names. Contrary to what Sluga thinks, the conception of the Bedeutung of a name as its bearer is an indispensable ingredient of Frege's notion of Bedeutung, as also is the fact that it is in the stronger of two possible senses that Frege held that Sinn determines Bedeutung. The contextual principle is not to be understood as meaning that thoughts are not, in general, complex; Frege's idea that the sense of a sentence is compounded out of the senses of its component words is an essential component of his theory of sense. Frege's realism was not the most important ingredient in his philosophy: but the attempt to interpret him otherwise than as a realist leads only to misunderstanding and confusion
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