Concepts, extensions, and Frege's logicist project

Mind 115 (460):983-1006 (2006)
Although the notion of logical object plays a key role in Frege's foundational project, it has hardly been analyzed in depth so far. I argue that Marco Ruffino's attempt to fill this gap by establishing a close link between Frege's treatment of expressions of the form ‘the concept F’ and the privileged status Frege assigns to extensions of concepts as logical objects is bound to fail. I argue, in particular, that Frege's principal motive for introducing extensions into his logical theory is not to be able to make in-direct statements about concepts, but rather to define all numbers as logical objects of a fundamental kind in order to ensure that we have the right cognitive access to them qua logical objects via Axiom V. Contrary to what Ruffino claims, reducibility to extensions cannot be the ‘ultimate criterion’ for Frege of what is to be regarded as a logical object.
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DOI 10.1093/mind/fzl983
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