On Sense, Reference, and Tone in History

Journal of the Philosophy of History 4 (3-4):354-374 (2011)
Abstract
This paper tries to show how the Fregean semantic framework, especially the notions of sense and tone, can be used to explain certain features of history. Following Michael Dummett's interpretation of Gottlob Frege's notion of meaning, it is possible to conceive of historical works as proposing particular modes of presentation of past events. In fact, alternative historical works about the same past events could be viewed as differing in what sense and tone they express. In this paper, I first outline some of the points and distinctions made by Frege. Second, I examine how the notions of sense, reference, and tone can be applied in semantic analysis of historical work. Finally, I point to a certain similarity between the Fregean framework and some of the views presented in the recent philosophy of history. My account suggests how to make use of some of the classical insights of Frege when dealing with the semantic issues of historical work
Keywords G. Frege   tone   reference   semantics of history   sense   meaning
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