Expressivists, such as Blackburn, analyse sentences such as 'S thinks that it ought to be the case that p' as S hoorays that p'. A problem is that the former sentence can be negated in three different ways, but the latter in only two. The distinction between refusing to accept a moral judgement and accepting its negation therefore cannot be accounted for. This is shown to undermine Blackburn's solution to the Frege-Geach problem.
The problem of the unity of the proposition asks what binds together the constituents of a proposition into a fully formed proposition that provides truth conditions for the assertoric sentence that expresses it, rather than merely a set of objects. Hanks’ solution is to reject the traditional distinction between content and force. If his theory is successful, then there is a plausible extension of it that readily solves the Frege–Geach problem for normative propositions. Unfortunately Hanks’ theory isn’t successful, but it (...) does point to significant connections between expressivism, unity, and embedding. (shrink)
I resolve the major challenge to an Expressivist theory of the meaning of normative discourse: the Frege–Geach Problem. Drawing on considerations from the semantics of directive language (e.g., imperatives), I argue that, although certain forms of Expressivism (like Gibbard’s) do run into at least one version of the Problem, it is reasonably clear that there is a version of Expressivism that does not.
In the 1960s, Peter Geach and John Searle independently posed an important objection to the wide class of 'noncognitivist' metaethical views that had at that time been dominant and widely defended for a quarter of a century. The problems raised by that objection have come to be known in the literature as the Frege-Geach Problem, because of Geach's attribution of the objection to Frege's distinction between content and assertoric force, and the problem has since occupied a great deal of (...) the attention both of defenders of broadly noncognitivist views, and of their critics. In this article I explain Geach and Searle's historical objections, and put the subsequent discussion into dialectical context, paying some attention to the developments along the way and how they have enhanced our overall understanding of the problem. The article covers a lot of territory, so we will only be able to see the highlights, along the way. For further reading, see the Works Cited. (shrink)
I consider a recent attempt by Mark Schroeder in his book Being For to provide an expressivist semantics for the connectives, and I argue that it does not, as it claims, answer the ‘Frege-Geach objection&rsquo.
Mark Eli Kalderon has argued for a fictionalist variant of non-cognitivism. On his view, what the Frege–Geach problem shows is that standard non-cognitivism proceeds uncritically from claims about use to claims about meaning; if non-cognitivism's claims were solely about use it would be on safe ground as far as the Frege–Geach problem is concerned. I argue that Kalderon's diagnosis is mistaken: the problem concerns the non-cognitivist's account of the use of moral sentences too.
The Frege‐Geach problem is probably the most serious worry for the prospects of any kind of metaethical expressivism. In a recent article, Ridge suggests that a new version of expressivism, a view he calls ecumenical expressivism, can avoid the Frege‐Geach problem.1 In contrast to pure expressivism, ecumenical expressivism is the view that moral utterances function to express not only desire‐like states of mind but also beliefs with propositional content. Whereas pure expressivists’ solutions to the Frege‐Geach problem usually have rested on (...) some kind of “logic of attitudes,” Ridge argues that it is the expressed belief in the ecumenical machinery that holds the key. Although Ridge’s ecumenical expressivism is promising, this essay argues that his solution is flawed. However, this does not mean that every form of ecumenical expressivism is a failure. Ridge briefly contrasts his view with the kind of view Hare advanced but argues that Hare cannot make use of the ecumenical machinery.2 I argue that this is incorrect. Not only is an ecumenical reading of Hare very plausible and something that establishes him as an important forerunner of today’s ecumenical trend in metaethics, but, more important, it offers guidance where Ridge goes wrong. It solves the Frege‐Geach problem in a way that meets the criticism of more standard solutions head‐on, and it seems to be able to handle the most pressing problems for ecumenical theories. The ecumenical theory that emerges is therefore powerful enough to establish itself as one of the most (if not the most) plausible form of ecumenism on the market. The first part of this article is largely concerned with advancing an ecumenical reading of Hare’s The Language of Morals and the kind of solution it offers in response to the Frege‐Geach problem. Some of the problems such a reading encounters will be addressed as we outline the theory. The most serious worries, however, are addressed in the final part of the essay. (shrink)
P. T. Geach, notoriously, holds the Relative Identity Thesis, according to which a meaningful judgment of identity is always, implicitly or explicitly, relative to some general term. ‘The same’ is a fragmentary expression, and has no significance unless we say or mean ‘the same X’, where ‘X’ represents a general term (what Frege calls a Begriffswort or Begriffsausdruck). (P. T. Geach, Mental Acts (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957), p. 69. I maintain that it makes no sense to judge whether (...) things are ‘the same’, or remain ‘the same’, unless we add or understand some general term - ‘the same F’. (P. T. Geach, Reference and Generality, third Edition (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 63f. I am arguing for the thesis that identity is relative. When one says ‘x is identical with y’, this, I hold, is an incomplete expression; it is short for ‘x is the same A as y’, where ‘A’ represents some count noun understood from the context of utterance - or else, it is just a vague expression of a half-formed thought. (P. T. Geach, ‘Identity,’ Review of Metaphysics 21 (1967-8), p. 3.) One of the ways Geach seeks to support this is by tying it to the well nigh universally admired Fregean thesis about cardinality. (shrink)
CHANGE SLIDE Go through outline of talk CHANGE SLIDE It is my sincerest hope that if there is one thing that people take away from Moral Fictionalism, it is the recognition that standard noncognitivism involves a syndrome of three, logically distinct claims. Standard noncognitivists claim that moral judgment is not belief or any other cognitive attitude but is, rather, a noncognitive attitude more akin to desire; that this noncognitive attitude is expressed by our public moral utterances; and, hence, that our (...) public moral utterances lack a distinctively moral subject matter and so are not answerable to the moral facts. Notice, however, that these are logically distinct claimsthe rst is a psychological claim, the second and third, positive and negative semantic claims, respectively. We can regiment the familiar technical vocabulary as follow: CHANGE.. (shrink)
Divine law theories of metaethics claim that moral rightness is grounded in God’s commands, wishes and so forth. Expressivist theories, by contrast, claim that to call something morally right is to express our own attitudes, not to report on God’s. Ostensibly, such views are incompatible. However, we shall argue that a rapprochement is possible and beneficial to both sides. Expressivists need to explain the difference between reporting and expressing an attitude, and to address the Frege-Geach problem. Divine law theorists (...) need to get past the Euthyphro dilemma, and to avoid moral externalism. This paper shows how a combined theory helps us to achieve this. (shrink)
After presenting a simple expressivist account of reports of probabilistic judgements, I explore a classic problem for it, namely the Frege-Geach problem. I argue that it is a problem not just for expressivism but for any reasonable account of ascriptions of graded judgements. I suggest that the problem can be resolved by appropriately modelling imprecise credences.
A difficulty is exposed in Allan Gibbard's solution to the embedding/Frege-Geach problem, namely that the difference between refusing to accept a normative judgement and accepting its negation is ignored. This is shown to undermine the whole solution.
Philosophers should consider a hybrid meta-ethical theory that includes elements of both moral expressivism and moral error theory. Proponents of such an expressivist-error theory hold that all moral utterances are either expressions of attitudes or expressions of false beliefs. Such a hybrid theory has two advantages over pure expressivism, because hybrid theorists can offer a more plausible account of the moral utterances that seem to be used to express beliefs, and hybrid theorists can provide a simpler solution to the (...) class='Hi'>Frege-Geach problem. The hybrid theory has three advantages over pure error theory, because hybrid theorists can offer a more plausible account of the moral utterances that seem to be used to express attitudes, hybrid theorists can more easily explain moral motivation, and hybrid theorists can avoid the implausible claim that all moral discourse is radically mistaken. Accordingly, such a hybrid theory should be more attractive than pure expressivism or pure error theory to philosophers who are skeptical about moral facts and truth. (shrink)
There are plausible objections to substitutional construals of generalization. But these objections do not apply to a substitutional construal of generalization proposed by Peter Geach several years ago. This paper examines Geach’s conception.
Aesthetic judgements are autonomous, as many other judgements are not: for the latter, but not the former, it is sometimes justifiable to change one's mind simply because several others share a different opinion. Why is this? One answer is that claims about beauty are not assertions at all, but expressions of aesthetic response. However, to cover more than just some of the explananda, this expressivism needs combining with some analogue of cognitive command, i.e. the idea that disagreements over beuaty can (...) occur, and when they do it is a priori that one side has infringed the norms governing aesthetic discourse. This combination can be achieved by reading Kant’s aesthetic theory in expressivist terms. The resulting view is a form of quasi-realism about beauty. The position has its merits, but cannot ultimately explain the phenomena which motivate it. This conclusion generalises to quasi-realism about other matters. (shrink)
Emotivists hold that moral opinions are wishes and desires, and that the function of moral language is to “express” such states. But if moral opinions were but wishes or desires, why would we see certain opinions as inconsistent with, or following from other opinions? And why should our reasoning include complex opinions such as the opinion that a person ought to be blamed only if he has done something wrong? Indeed, why would we think that anything is conditional on his (...) doing something wrong unless “doing something wrong” signifies a real kind of action? -/- Many have believed, and seemingly on good grounds, that these questions lack good answers, and that emotivism is doomed for that very reason. What I will argue, however, is that once emotivism is recognized for what it is, namely an empirical theory about the psychological nature of moral opinions, and once we relate it to a general theory of human reasoning, moral reasoning and intuitions of inconsistency and consequence are only to be expected. Recent objections to earlier emotivist or “expressivist” accounts can thus be met, and the phenomena of inconsistency and consequence fully embraced by emotivists. (shrink)
The basic idea of expressivism is that for some sentences ‘P’, believing that P is not just a matter of having an ordinary descriptive belief. This is a way of capturing the idea that the meaning of some sentences either exceeds their factual/descriptive content or doesn’t consist in any particular factual/descriptive content at all, even in context. The paradigmatic application for expressivism is within metaethics, and holds that believing that stealing is wrong involves having some kind of desire-like attitude, with (...) world-tomind direction of fit, either in place of, or in addition to, being in a representational state of mind with mind-to-world direction of fit. Because expressivists refer to the state of believing that P as the state of mind ‘expressed’ by ‘P’, this view can also be described as the view that ‘stealing is wrong’ expresses a state of mind that involves a desire-like attitude instead of, or in addition to, a representational state of mind. According to some expressivists - unrestrained expressivists, as I’ll call them - there need be no special relationship among the different kinds of state of mind that can be expressed by sentences. Pick your favorite state of mind, the unrestrained expressivist allows, and there could, at least in principle, be a sentence that expressed it. Expressivists who seem to have been unrestrained plausibly include Ayer in Language, Truth, and Logic, and Simon Blackburn in many of his writings, including his , , and.. (shrink)
The need to distinguish between logical and extra-logical varieties of inference, entailment, validity, and consistency has played a prominent role in meta-ethical debates between expressivists and descriptivists. But, to date, the importance that matters of logical form play in these distinctions has been overlooked. That’s a mistake given the foundational place that logical form plays in our understanding of the difference between the logical and the extra-logical. This essay argues that descriptivists are better positioned than their expressivist rivals to provide (...) the needed account of logical form, and so better able to capture the needed distinctions. This finding is significant for several reasons: First, it provides a new argument against expressivism. Second, it reveals that descriptivists can make use of this new argument only if they are willing to take a controversial—but plausible—stand on claims about the nature and foundations of logic. (shrink)
I argue that Frege's so-called "concept 'horse' problem" is not one problem but many. When these separate sub-problems are distinguished, some are revealed to be more tractable than others. I further argue that there is, contrary to a widespread scholarly assumption originating with Peter Geach, little evidence that Frege was concerned with the general problem of the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions in writings available to Wittgenstein. In consequence, Geach is mistaken in thinking that in the Tractatus Wittgenstein simply accepts (...) from Frege certain lessons about the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions and the say-show distinction. In truth, Wittgenstein drew his own morals about these matters, quite possibly as the result of reflecting on how the general problem of the inexpressibility of logical category distinctions arises in Frege's writings (whether Frege was aware of it or not), but also, quite possibly, by seeing certain glimmerings of these doctrines in the writings of Russell. (shrink)
It has become standard for commentators to note sadly how little impact Frege’s work had amongst his contemporaries, but then to temper this observation by claiming an enormous indirect influence for his ideas through the work of those few who did pay serious attention to them, perhaps most notably Russell, Wittgenstein, and Carnap. How effective or transparent those conduits were is still a matter of scholarly debate.1 For myself, I am increasingly persuaded that much of what we would now judge (...) to be most centrally important in Frege was at best imperfectly transmitted. That we can now attempt judgement on what is thus central is owed, in the first place, to the re‐publication and translation of Frege’s work that effectively began with Austin’s version of Grundlagen in 1950. Austin had translated the work so as to be able to set if for an Oxford finals paper. Michael Dummett took the course, and was, he reports, “bowled over by the Grundlagen”, so much so that during the following year he “settled down to read everything that Frege had written” (2007: 9‐ 10). Soon, though not at first, Geach and Black’s Translations (1952) would help in this, but before long the work would take Dummett to Munster to examine Frege unpublished work: the first result of this study is the 1956 “Postscript” to his 1955 “Frege on Functions”, itself an important early step in dispelling bizarre misconceptions of Frege’s doctrines which seem then to have been prevalent.2 Dummett began to form plans for a comprehensive book on Frege. This required further sustained study of the Nachlass, including a visit in 1957 when, its editors acknowledge, Dummett provided an important stimulus and essential “spadework” (PW xii) towards its publication. Frege: Philosophy of Language, a rather different book from that first planned, eventually appeared in 1973. Dummett modestly remarks of it, “I believe that the book helped to revive interest in Frege” (2007: 24). Peter Geach,�.. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. Fodor characterizes concepts as consisting of two dimensions: one is content, which is purely denotational/broad, the other the Mentalese vehicle bearing that content, which Fodor calls the Mode of Presentation (MOP), understood "syntactically." I argue that, so understood, concepts are not interpersonally sharable; so Fodor's own account violates what he calls the Publicity Constraint in his (1998) book. Furthermore, I argue that Fodor's non-semantic, or "syntactic," solution to Frege cases succumbs to the problem of providing interpersonally applicable functional roles (...) for MOPs. This is a serious problem because Fodor himself has argued extensively that if Fregean senses or meanings are understood as functional/conceptual roles, then they can't be public, since, according to Fodor, there are no interpersonally applicable functional roles in the relevant senses. I elaborate on these relevant senses in the paper. (shrink)
In the opening to his late essay, Der Gedanke, Frege asserts without qualification that the word "true" points the way for logic. But in a short piece from his Nachlass entitled "y Basic Logical Insights", Frege writes that the word true makes an unsuccessful attempt to point to the essence of logic, asserting instead that "what really pertains to logic lies not in the word "true" but in the assertoric force with which the sentence is uttered". Properly understanding what Frege (...) takes to be at issue here is crucial for understanding his conception of logic and, in particular, what he takes to be its normative status vis-à-vis judgement, assertion, and inference. In this paper, I focus my attention on clarifying the latter claim and Frege's motivations for making it, exposing what I take to be a fundamental tension in Frege's conception of logic. Finally, I discuss whether Frege's deployment of the horizontal in his mature Begriffsschrift helps to resolve this tension. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Frege’s writings contain arguments for the thesis (i) that a thought expressed by a sentence S is a structured object whose composition pictures the composition of S, and for the thesis (ii) that a thought is an unstructured object. I will argue that Frege’s reasons for both (i) and (ii) are strong. Frege’s explanation of the difference in sense between logically equivalent sentences rests on assumption (i), while Frege’s claim that the same thought can be decomposed differently makes (ii) plausible. (...) Thoughts are supposed to do work that requires that they be structured and work that requires that they be unstructured. But this cannot be! While the standard response to this problem is to reject either (i) or (ii), I propose a charitable repair in the spirit of Frege’s theory that accepts both. The key idea can be found in Frege’s Basic Laws of Arithmetic(BL, GGA). Frege argues that the thought expressed by a sentence is determined by the truth-conditions that can be derived from the semantic axioms for the sentence constituents. The fact that the same axiomatic truth-condition can be derived in different ways from different semantic axioms suggests a Fregean solution of the dilemma: A thought is a type that is instantiated by all sequences of senses (decomposed thoughts) that have the same axiomatic truth-conditions. This allows for multiple decomposability of the same thought (for different decomposed thoughts can have the same axiomatic truth-conditions) and for a notion of containment (the decomposed thought contains those senses whose semantic axioms are needed in the derivation of the truth-conditions). My proposal combines the virtues of (i) and (ii) without inheriting their vices. (shrink)
The following essay reconsiders the ontological and logical issues around Frege’s Basic Law (V). If focuses less on Russell’s Paradox, as most treatments of Frege’s Grundgesetze der Arithmetik (GGA)1 do, but rather on the relation between Frege’s Basic Law (V) and Cantor’s Theorem (CT). So for the most part the inconsistency of Naïve Comprehension (in the context of standard Second Order Logic) will not concern us, but rather the ontological issues central to the conflict between (BLV) and (CT). These ontological (...) issues are interesting in their own right. And if and only if in case ontological considerations make a strong case for something like (BLV) we have to trouble us with inconsistency and paraconsistency. These ontological issues also lead to a renewed methodological reflection what to assume or recognize as an axiom. (shrink)
According to Frege, judgement is the ‘logically primitive activity’. So what is judgement? In his mature work, he characterizes judging as ‘acknowledging the truth’ (‘Anerkennen der Wahrheit’). Frege’s remarks about judging as acknowledging the truth of a thought require further elaboration and development. I will argue that the development that best suits his argumentative purposes takes acknowledging the truth of a thought to be a non-propositional attitude like seeing an object; it is a mental relation between a thinker, a thought, (...) and an object, namely a truth-value. (shrink)
Frege holds the distinction between complete (saturated) and incomplete (unsaturated) things to be a basic distinction of logic. Many disagree. In this paper I will argue that one can defend Frege's distinction against criticism if one takes, inspired by Frege, a wh -question to be the paradigm incomplete expression.
Does the English demonstrative pronoun 'that' (including complex demonstratives of the form 'that F') have sense and reference? Unlike many other philosophers of language, Frege answers with a resounding 'No'. He held that the bearer of sense and reference is a so-called 'hybrid proper name' (Künne) that contains the demonstrative pronoun and specific circumstances of utterance such as glances and acts of pointing. In this paper I provide arguments for the thesis that demonstratives are hybrid proper names. After outlining why (...) Frege held the hybrid proper name view, I will defend it against recent criticism, and argue that it is superior to views that take demonstrative pronouns to be the bearer of semantic properties. (shrink)
Gottlob Frege maintained that two name-containing identity sentences, represented schematically as a=a and a=b,can both be true in virtue of the same object’s self-identity but nonetheless, puzzlingly, differ in their epistemic profiles. Frege eventually resolved his puzzlement by locating the source of the purported epistemic difference between the identity sentences in a difference in the Sinne, or senses, expressed by the names that the sentences contain. -/- Thus, Frege portrayed himself as describing a puzzle that can be posed prior to (...) and independently of any particular theoretical position regarding names, and then resolving that puzzle with his theory of Sinn and Bedeutung. In this paper, I suggest that Frege’s presentation is problematic. If attempt is made to characterize the epistemic status of true identity sentences without appeal to Frege’s theoretical commitments, then what initially seemed puzzling largely dissolves. It turns out that, in order to generate puzzlement, Frege must invoke the theoretical account that he uses the puzzle to establish the purported necessity of. (shrink)
Abstract I argue against the two most influential readings of Frege's methodology in the philosophy of logic. Dummett's ?semanticist? reading sees Frege as taking notions associated with semantical content?and in particular, the semantical notion of truth?as primitive and as intelligible independently of their connection to the activity of judgment, inference, and assertion. Against this, the ?pragmaticist? reading proposed by Brandom and Ricketts sees Frege as beginning instead from the independent and intuitive grasp that we allegedly have on the latter activity (...) and only then moving on to explain semantical notions in terms of the nature of such acts. Against both readings, I argue, first, that Frege gives clear indication that he takes semantical and pragmatical notions to be equally primitive, such that he would reject the idea that either sort of notion could function as the base for a non-circular explanation of the other. I argue, secondly, that Frege's own method for conveying the significance of these primitive notions?an activity that Frege calls ?elucidation??is, in fact, explicitly circular in nature. Because of this, I conclude that Frege should be read instead as conceiving of our grasp of the semantical and pragmatical dimensions of logic as far more of a holistic enterprise than either reading suggests. (shrink)
Several scholars have argued that Wittgenstein held the view that the notion of number is presupposed by the notion of one-one correlation, and that therefore Hume's principle is not a sound basis for a definition of number. I offer a new interpretation of the relevant fragments on philosophy of mathematics from Wittgenstein's Nachlass, showing that if different uses of ‘presupposition’ are understood in terms of de re and de dicto knowledge, Wittgenstein's argument against the Frege-Russell definition of number turns out (...) to be valid on its own terms, even though it depends on two epistemological principles logicist philosophers of mathematics may find too ‘constructivist’. (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.
In 1885, Georg Cantor published his review of Gottlob Frege's Grundlagen der Arithmetik . In this essay, we provide its first English translation together with an introductory note. We also provide a translation of a note by Ernst Zermelo on Cantor's review, and a new translation of Frege's brief response to Cantor. In recent years, it has become philosophical folklore that Cantor's 1885 review of Frege's Grundlagen already contained a warning to Frege. This warning is said to concern the defectiveness (...) of Frege's notion of extension. The exact scope of such speculations varies and sometimes extends as far as crediting Cantor with an early hunch of the paradoxical nature of Frege's notion of extension. William Tait goes even further and deems Frege 'reckless' for having missed Cantor's explicit warning regarding the notion of extension. As such, Cantor's purported inkling would have predated the discovery of the Russell-Zermelo paradox by almost two decades. In our introductory essay, we discuss this alleged implicit (or even explicit) warning, separating two issues: first, whether the most natural reading of Cantor's criticism provides an indication that the notion of extension is defective; second, whether there are other ways of understanding Cantor that support such an interpretation and can serve as a precisification of Cantor's presumed warning. (shrink)
Hintikka and Sandu had argued that 'Frege's failure to grasp the idea of the standard interpretation of higher-order logic turns his entire foundational project into a hopeless daydream' and that he is 'inextricably committed to a non-standard interpretation' of higher-order logic. We disagree.
Frege supposedly believes that vague predicates have no referent or Bedeutung. But given other things he evidently believes, such a position would seem to commit him to a suspect nihilism according to which assertoric sentences containing vague predicates are neither true nor false. I argue that we have good reason to resist ascribing to Frege the view that vague predicates have no Bedeutung and thus good reason to resist seeing him as committed to the suspect nihilism.
A major obstacle to formulating a broad-content intentional psychology is the occurrence of ''Frege cases'' - cases in which a person apparently believes or desires Fa but not Fb and acts accordingly, even though "a" and "b" have the same broad content. Frege cases seem to demand narrow-content distinctions to explain actions by the contents of beliefs and desires. Jerry Fodor ( The elm and the expert: Mentalese and its semantics , Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994) argues that an explanatorily (...) adequate broad-content psychology is nonetheless possible because Frege cases rarely occur in intentional-explanatory contexts, and they are not systematically linked to intentional laws in a way that demands intentional explanation. Thus, he claims, behaviors associated with Frege cases can be considered ceteris-paribus exceptions to broad-content intentional laws without significantly decreasing the explanatory power of intentional psychology. I argue that Frege cases are plentiful and systematically linked to intentional laws in a way that requires intentional explanation, specifically in the explanation of why certain actions are not performed. Consequently, Frege-case behaviors cannot be construed as ceteris-paribus exceptions to intentional laws without significantly eroding the explanatory power of intentional psychology and reducing the rationality of the agent. Fodor thus fails to save broad-content psychology from the prima facie objections against it based on Frege cases. (shrink)
Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) was a German logician, mathematician and philosopher who played a crucial role in the emergence of modern logic and analytic philosophy. Frege's logical works were revolutionary, and are often taken to represent the fundamental break between contemporary approaches and the older, Aristotelian tradition. He invented modern quantificational logic, and created the first fully axiomatic system for logic, which was complete in its treatment of propositional and first-order logic, and also represented the first treatment of higher-order logic. In (...) the philosophy of mathematics, he was one of the most ardent proponents of logicism, the thesis that mathematical truths are logical truths, and presented influential criticisms of rival views such as psychologism and formalism. His theory of meaning, especially his distinction between the sense and reference of linguistic expressions, was groundbreaking in semantics and the philosophy of language. He had a profound and direct influence on such thinkers as Russell, Carnap and Wittgenstein. Frege is often called the founder of modern logic, and he is sometimes even heralded as the founder of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
This piece criticizes Fodor's argument (in The Elm and the Expert, 1994) for the claim that Frege cases should be treated as exceptions to (broad) psychological generalizations rather than as counterexamples.
Michael Dummett has advanced, very influentially, the view that Frege means truth conditions by his notion of thought (Gedanke). My aim in this paper is to argue that Dummett and others are mistaken in this claim. First, Frege's aversion of the correspondence theory of truth does not square well with Dummett's claim. Secondly, and more importantly, Grundgesetze I, §32, is the only place where Frege even appears to be talking about truth conditions in connection with his notion of thought -- (...) and even there, I shall show, he does not really identify thoughts with truth conditions, but states only the triviality that a statement such as, say, 'Leibniz is a philosopher' expresses the thought that Leibniz is a philosopher. (shrink)
The idea underlying the Begriffsschrift account of identities was that the content of a sentence is a function of the things it is about. If so, then if an identity a=b is about the content of its contained terms and is true, then a=a and a=b have the same content. But they do not have the same content; so, Frege concluded, identities are not about the contents of their contained terms. The way Frege regarded the matter is that in an (...) identity the terms flanking the symbol for identity do not have their ordinary contents, but instead have themselves as their contents. In 'Uber Sinn und Bedeutung' Frege became convinced that if an identity a=b is about the signs a and b, then it expresses no proper knowledge. So, since it is evident that many such identities do express proper knowledge, Frege concluded that identities are not about their contained signs. So he became convinced that his Begriffsschrift account was incorrect. What was the error in the argument that led Frege to that account? It was thinking that the content of a sentence is a function of the contents of its constituent signs, that is, the things it is about. (shrink)
Due programmi diversi si intersecano nel lavoro di Frege sui fondamenti dell’aritmetica: • Logicismo: l’aritmetica `e riducibile alla logica; • Estensionalismo: l’aritmetica `e riducibile a una teoria delle estensioni. Sia nei Fondamenti che nei Principi, Frege articola l’idea che l’aritmetica sia riducibile a una teoria logica delle estensioni.
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)
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)
We use quotation marks when we wish to refer to an expression. We can and do so refer even when this expression is composed of characters that do not occur in our alphabet. That's why Tarski, Quine, and Geach's theories of quotation don't work. The proposals of Davidson, Frege, and C. Washington, however, do not provide a plausible account of quotation either. (Section I). The problem is to construct a Tarskian theory of truth for an object language that contains quotation (...) marks, without appealing to quotation marks in the metalanguage. I propose to supply Tarski's truth definition with one axiom that determines the denotation of all expressions containing quotation marks. According to this axiom, quotation marks create a non-extensional context. Since admitting such contexts does not lead to any difficulties in the recursive truth characterization, we may indeed dispense with extensionalism. (Section II). Finally, I argue that we classify and denote expressions in the very same way that we classify and denote extralinguistic entities. Both tokens and types of written signs can be easily incorporated into the naturalist's worldview. (Section III). (shrink)
In a letter to Frege of 29 December 1899, Hilbert advances his formalist doctrine, according to which consistency of an arbitrary set of mathematical sentences is a sufficient condition for its truth and for the existence of the concepts described by it. This paper discusses Frege's analysis, as carried out in the context of the Frege-Hilbert correspondence, of the formalist approach in particular and the axiomatic method in general. We close with a speculation about Frege's influence on Hilbert's later work (...) in foundations, which we consider to have been greater than previously assumed. This conjecture is based on a hitherto neglected revision of Hilbert's talk "Über den Zahlbegriff". (shrink)
Frege's argument against the classical Greek conception of numbers as 'multitudes of units' has been hailed as one of the most successful in his <Grundlagen>. The aim of this paper is to show that despite Frege's best efforts, the classical conception remains a viable alternative to the Fregean conception of numbers by arguing that neither a dilemma argument Frege brings against the classical conception nor an argument based on the truth of what is known as Hume's Principle succeeds.
The expression ‘indispensability argument’ denotes a family of arguments for mathematical realism supported among others by Quine and Putnam. More and more often, Gottlob Frege is credited with being the first to state this argument in section 91 of the Grundgesetze der Arithmetik. Frege’s alleged indispensability argument is the subject of this essay. On the basis of three significant differences between Mark Colyvan’s indispensability arguments and Frege’s applicability argument, I deny that Frege presents an indispensability argument in that very often (...) quoted section of the Grundegesetze. (shrink)
After presenting the ordinary and the Fregean formulations of the ancestral, I raise the question of what is their relationship, the natural candidate being that the Fregean version is an analysans intended to improve upon, and replace, the common notion of ancestral (the analysandum). Next, two types of circles that arise in connection with the Fregean ancestral are presented, and it is claimed that one of the circles makes it impossible to maintain the just described (“replacement”) interpretation. A reference is (...) made to Kerry, who was the first to point out a circularity in Frege’s ancestral. Some of Frege’s remarks are examined in order to tentatively sketch, an answer to the issue of the relationship between ordinary and Fregean ancestral; the latter, if not as an analysans replacing the common notion, can still be seen as a profound enrichment of the former. (shrink)
In the early years of the twentieth century, Gottlob Frege and David Hilbert, two titans of mathematical logic, engaged in a controversy regarding the correct understanding of the role of axioms in mathematical theories, and the correct way to demonstrate consistency and independence results for such axioms. The controversy touches on a number of difficult questions in logic and the philosophy of logic, and marks an important turning-point in the development of modern logic. This entry gives an overview of that (...) controversy and of its philosophical underpinnings. (shrink)
One of the most important objections to information-based semantic theories is that they are incapable of explaining Frege cases. The worry is that if a concept’s intentional content is a function of its informational content, as such theories propose, then it would appear that coreferring expressions have to be synonymous, and if this is true, it’s difficult to see how an agent could believe that a is F without believing that b is F whenever a and b are identical. I (...) argue that this appearance is deceptive. If we heed the distinction between the analog and digital contents of a signal, it is actually possible to reconstruct something akin to Frege’s sense/reference distinction in purely information-theoretic terms. This allows informational semanticists to treat coreferring expressions as semantically distinct and to solve Frege cases in the same way that Frege did—namely, by appealing to the different contents of coreferring expressions. (shrink)
This paper explores the relationship between Hume's Prinicple and Basic Law V, investigating the question whether we really do need to suppose that, already in Die Grundlagen, Frege intended that HP should be justified by its derivation from Law V.
Para Frege, o erro de base do psicologismo é a sua concepção de sujeito, que se concentra no princípio de que meus únicos objetos são conteúdos imanentes da consciência. Entretanto, essa tese não é meramente falsa, mas também refutável. A refutação da mesma aparece, não obstante, tardiamente em Der Gedanke. É esse o sentido último da crítica do idealismo oferecida neste texto. Ela é um passo necessário e imprescindível para assegurar a possibilidade de que captemos pensamentos, possibilidade com a qual (...) se ocupa boa parte do artigo de 1918. (shrink)
Gottlob Frege criticized Kant's use of the term "representation" in a footnote in the Foundations of Arithmetics. According to Frege, Kant used the term "representation" for mental images, which are private and incommunicable, and also for objects and concepts. Kant thereby gave "a strongly subjectivistic and idealistic coloring" to his thought. The paper argues that Kant avoided the kind of subjectivism and idealism which Frege hints in his remark. For Kant, having "Vorstellungen" requires the capacity of synthesis, by virtue of (...) which the mind goes beyond its subjective states, and its modifications become presentations of an independent world. (shrink)
Normative judgments involve two gradable features. First, the judgments themselves can come in degrees; second, the strength of reasons represented in the judgments can come in degrees. Michael Smith has argued that non-cognitivism cannot accommodate both of these gradable dimensions. The degrees of a non-cognitive state can stand in for degrees of judgment, or degrees of reason strength represented in judgment, but not both. I argue that (a) there are brands of noncognitivism that can surmount Smith’s challenge, and (b) any (...) brand of non-cognitivism that has even a chance of solving the Frege–Geach Problem and some related problems involving probabilistic consistency can also thereby solve Smith’s problem. Because only versions of non-cognitivism that can solve the Frege–Geach Problem are otherwise plausible, all otherwise plausible versions of noncognitivism can meet Smith’s challenge. (shrink)
This paper investigates the linguistic basis for moral non-cognitivism, the view that sentences containing moral predicates do not have truth conditions. It offers a new argument against this view by pointing out that the view is incompatible with our best empirical theories about the grammatical encoding of illocutionary force potentials. Given that my arguments are based on very general assumptions about the relations between the grammar of natural languages and a sentence's illocutionary function, my arguments are broader in scope than (...) the familiar semantic objections to non-cognitivism relating to the so-called Frege-Geach problem: even if a solution to the Frege-Geach problem has been found, my arguments still stand. (shrink)
Millians sometimes claim that we can explain the fact that sentences like "If Hesperus exists, then Hesperus is Phosphorus" seem a posteriori to speakers in terms of the fact that utterances of sentences of this sort would typically pragmatically convey propositions which really are a posteriori. I argue that this kind of pragmatic explanation of the seeming a posterioricity of sentences of this sort fails. The main reason is that for every sentence like the above which (by Millian lights) is (...) a priori, seems a posteriori to most speakers, and would typically be used to convey a posteriori propositions, there is another which (again, by Millian lights) is a priori, seems a posteriori to most speakers, but can only typically be used to convey a priori propositions. (shrink)
According to John Mackie, moral talk is representational (the realists go that bit right) but its metaphysical presuppositions are wildly implausible (the non-cognitivists got that bit right). This is the basis of Mackie’s now famous error theory: that moral judgments are cognitively meaningful but systematically false. Of course, Mackie went on to recommend various substantive moral judgments, and, in the light of his error theory, that has seemed odd to a lot of folk. Richard Joyce has argued that Mackie’s approach (...) can be vindicated by a fictionalist account of moral discourse. And Mark Kalderon has argued that moral fictionalism is attractive quite independently of Mackie’s error-theory. Kalderon argues that the Frege–Geach problem shows that we need moral propositions, but that a fictionalist can and should embrace propositional content together with a non-cognitivist account of acceptance of a moral proposition. Indeed, it is clear that any fictionalist is going to have to postulate more than one kind of acceptance attitude. We argue that this double-approach to acceptance generates a new problem – a descendent of Frege–Geach – which we call the acceptance–transfer problem. Although we develop the problem in the context of Kalderon’s version of non-cognitivist fictionalism, we show that it is not the non-cognitivist aspect of Kalderon’s account that generates the problem. A closely related problem surfaces for the more typical variants of fictionalism according to which accepting a moral proposition is believing some closely related non-moral proposition. Fictionalists of both stripes thus have an attitude problem. (shrink)
Expressivism's problem in solving the Frege/Geach problem concerning unasserted contexts is evaluated in the light of Blackburn's own methodological commitment to assessing philosophical theories in terms of costs and benefits, notably quasi-realism's aim of minimising the ontological commitments of a broadly naturalistic worldview. The problem emerges when a competitor theory can explain the same phenomena at lower cost: the minimalist about truth has no problem with unasserted contexts whereas the quasi-realist/expressivist package does. However, this form of projectivism is supposed to (...) be a local and contrastive thesis or the central metaphor of projection makes no sense. So in competition with minimalism, projectivism must - at least for non-contested areas of thought and language - presuppose non-minimal truth. This casts new light on Blackburn's proposal globally to revise the relations between logic and truth so as to model ethical discourse as tracking a notion of commitment to contents that can be either attitudinal or truh evaluable. Why globally revise logic, in order solely to explain the problem of unasserted contexts, when a rival view can do so much better according to the standards set by the quasi-realist? Why do so when a notion of non-minimal truth and a classical explanation of logic are already available to you, given the local and contrastive claims of quasi-realism? (shrink)
The semantic theory of expressivism has been applied within metaethics to evaluative words like ‘good’ and ‘wrong’, within epistemology to words like ‘knows’, and within the philosophy of language, to words like ‘true’, to epistemic modals like ‘might’, ‘must’, and ‘probably’, and to indicative conditionals. For each topic, expressivism promises the advantage of giving us the resources to say what sentences involving these words mean by telling us what it is to believe these things, rather than by telling us what (...) it would be for them to be true. This, in turn, absolves these theories of the burden of holding that there is any general answer to what it is for these sentences to be true. However, expressivism is famously subject to a deep and general problem about how to account for the meanings of complex sentences – a problem variously known as the ‘Frege-Geach’ or ‘embedding’ problem. In this paper I will be interested in whether there are reasons to think that the embedding problem looks less difficult for some of these applications for expressivism, than for others. In particular, in this paper I will be interested in the prospects for expressivism about what I will call epistemics – a class which I take to include epistemic modals like ‘might’ and ‘must’, sentential adverbs like ‘probably’, adjectives like ‘likely’ and ‘improbable’, and so-called ‘open’ indicative conditionals like ‘if the Fed doesn’t intervene, then the economy will enter a deflationary spiral’. There are several reasons to be particularly interested in expressivism about epistemics, relating both to the philosophical payoffs of such a view, and relating to the technical prospects for making it work. In other work I’ve touched on the especially interesting philosophical payoffs which make expressivism about epistemics interesting; in this paper I will be interested primarily in evaluating the possibility that there are better prospects for making expressivism about epistemics work than there are for making expressivism work about other topics. There are two main reasons why one might suspect that expressivism about epistemics will have better prospects than expressivism about many other topics, including in metaethics.. (shrink)
Metaethical expressivism takes moral utterances to express non-cognitive attitudes in just the same way that ordinary factual utterances express belief.1 In doing so, it promises to solve three central metaethical problems at a stroke. First, it avoids the worry (most famously expressed by Mackie 1977) that moral facts and properties would be unacceptable additions to our ontology. Second, it promises to explain the seemingly close relation between one’s judging that one ought morally to ! and one’s having a motive to (...) ! by understanding the attitude expressed as ‘conative’, i.e. as an intrinsically motivating desire-like state.2 Finally, and perhaps most importantly, expressivism promises a solution to the univocality problem, the problem of explaining how people with systematically different ethical views are nevertheless concerned with a common topic. Attempts to substantively explain intuitions of ethical agreement and disagreement between parties in terms of their employment of co-referring ethical concepts have faced a series of counterexamples. Expressivism understands univocality in terms of agreement and disagreement in non-cognitive attitude, thus circumventing the need to characterize a univocal cognitive content.3 Expressivism itself faces two central explanatory challenges. Most famously, the expressivist needs to solve the so-called ‘Frege-Geach problem’: to explain why moral beliefs and moral statements seem to have much the same sort of logical and inferential properties as ordinary factual beliefs and statements.4 Much less famously, the expressivist faces the challenge of specifying what sort of attitude is expressed by moral utterances. This task, dubbed the ‘moral attitude problem’ by Alexander Miller (2003, 43), has received surprisingly little attention compared with that lavished on the Frege- Geach problem. However, solving this problem is a central and non-trivial task for the expressivist program in metaethics: the truth of expressivism requires some answer to this question, and a recent paper by David Merli (2008) suggests that, besides its intrinsic.... (shrink)
Non-cognitivism might seem to offer a plausible account of evaluative judgments, at least on the assumption that there is a satisfactory solution to the Frege–Geach problem. However, Cian Dorr has argued that non-cognitivism remains implausible even assuming that the Frege–Geach problem can be solved, on the grounds that non-cognitivism still has to classify some paradigmatically rational inferences as irrational. Dorr’s argument is ingenious and at first glance seems decisive. However, in this paper I will show that Dorr’s argument equivocates between (...) two different notions of evidence , and that once this equivocation is noted there is no reason to doubt that non-cognitivism is consistent with the rationality of such inferences, at least if it is assumed that the Frege–Geach problem can be solved. In particular, I will show that non-cognitivists can endorse the same explanation of the rationality of such inferences that cognitivists should endorse, and that there is thus no need for non-cognitivists to offer any sort of idiosyncratic account of the epistemology of such cases, in contrast to what other commentators on Dorr’s argument have thought. (shrink)
According to noncognitivists, when we say that stealing is wrong, what we are doing is more like venting our feelings about stealing or encouraging one another not to steal, than like stating facts about morality. These ideas challenge the core not only of much thinking about morality and metaethics, but also of much philosophical thought about language and meaning. -/- Noncognitivism in Ethics is an outstanding introduction to these theories, ranging from their early history through the latest contemporary developments. Beginning (...) with a general introduction to metaethics, Mark Schroeder introduces and assesses three principal kinds of noncognitivist theory: the speech-act theories of Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare, the expressivist theories of Blackburn and Gibbard, and hybrid theories. He pays particular attention both to the philosophical problems about what moral facts could be about or how they could matter which noncognitivism seeks to solve, and to the deep problems that it faces, including the task of explaining both the nature of moral thought and the complexity of moral attitudes, and the Frege-Geach problem. (shrink)
It has been known for a few years that no more than Pi-1-1 comprehension is needed for the proof of "Frege's Theorem". One can at least imagine a view that would regard Pi-1-1 comprehension axioms as logical truths but deny that status to any that are more complex—a view that would, in particular, deny that full second-order logic deserves the name. Such a view would serve the purposes of neo-logicists. It is, in fact, no part of my view that, say, (...) Delta-3-1 comprehension axioms are not logical truths. What I am going to suggest, however, is that there is a special case to be made on behalf of Pi-1-1 comprehension. Making the case involves investigating extensions of first-order logic that do not rely upon the presence of second-order quantifiers. A formal system for so-called "ancestral logic" is developed, and it is then extended to yield what I call "Arché logic". (shrink)
In this survey paper I start from two classical theses of speech act theory : that speech act content is uniformly propositional, and that sentence mood encodes illocutionary force. These theses have been questioned in recent work, both in philosophy and linguistics. The force/content distinction itself -- a cornerstone of twentieth-century philosophy of language -- has come to be rejected by some theorists, unmoved by the famous 'Frege-Geach' argument. The paper reviews some of these debates.
A pressing problem for many non-realist1 theories concerning various specific subject matters is the challenge of making sense of our ordinary propositional attitude claims related to the subject in question. Famously in the case of ethics, to take one example, we have in ordinary language prima facie ascriptions of beliefs and desires involving moral properties and relationships. In the case, for instance, of “Jason believes that Kylie is virtuous”, we appear to have a belief which takes Kylie to be a (...) certain way. If Jason desires that Kylie acts as she ought, he appears to have a desire which has as its content that Kylie perform actions of a certain sort (i.e. the actions that she ought to perform). However, for non-cognitivists in ethics who reject the idea that sentences such as “Kylie is virtuous” or “Kylie acts as she ought” are in the business of making truth-apt claims, or representing that certain moral features are possessed by objects or events, or even, in extreme cases, that such claims express propositions at all, the semantic analysis of the example propositional attitude claims made about Jason will have to be non-standard. (This is merely an application of the well-known “Frege-Geach problem” (see Geach 1965) to the case of embedding moral vocabulary in propositional-attitude ascriptions.). (shrink)
Faced with the paradox of undermining futures, Humeans have resigned themselves to accounts of chance that severely conflict with our intuitions. However, such resignation is premature: The problem is Humean supervenience (HS), not Humeanism. This paper develops a projectivist Humeanism on which chance claims are understood as normative, rather than fact stating. Rationality constraints on the cotenability of norms and factual claims ground a factual-normative worlds semantics that, in addition to solving the Frege-Geach problem, delivers the intuitive set of (...) possibilia for each chance law. Hence, the account does not entail HS, and the paradox does not arise. A confirmation theory is developed, and the 'principal principle' is justified. (shrink)
Some bilateralists have suggested that some of our negative answers to yes-or-no questions are cases of rejection. Mark Textor (2011. Is ‘no’ a force-indicator? No! Analysis 71: 448–56) has recently argued that this suggestion falls prey to a version of the Frege-Geach problem. This note reviews Textor's objection and shows why it fails. We conclude with some brief remarks concerning where we think that future attacks on bilateralism should be directed.
The Frege Geach problem was rst raised by ? (1939: 33•34) and independently by ? (1958, 1960, 1965) and Searle (1962, 1969) and was originally directed at expressivist proposals such as Ayer's (1946: 108) emotivism: It is worth mentioning that ethical terms do not serve only to express feeling. They are calculated also to arouse feeling, and so to stimulate action. . . . In fact we may de ne the meaning of the various ethical words in terms both of (...) the di erent feelings they are ordinarily taken to express, and also the di erent responses which they are calculated to provoke. Ayer's talk of `de ning' the meanings of ethical words suggests that he identi ed the meaning of an ethical word with the attitudes it expresses and provokes. Ayer's emotivism is subject to the Frege Geach problem because it is a form of atomistic reduction. It is atomistic in that it assumes a one•one correlation between the meanings of ethical words and the linguistic actions they perform (such as the expression and provoca• tion of the relevant attitudes). It is a reduction in that it identi es the meaning of an ethical word with attitudes it expresses and provokes. Atomistic reductions face the following dilemma: Suppose that freestanding and embedded occurrences of `wrong' mean the same. The problem is that words can occur in embedded contexts and fail to express the attitudes they do in freestanding contexts. This di culty would be avoided if the atomistic reduction applied only to the meaning of freestanding occurrences. However, if the account applies only to freestanding occurrences, then it is incomplete, for the expressivist would lack an account of the meaning of ethical words in embedded contexts. Furthermore, some guaran• tee must be given that freestanding and embedded occurrences mean the same despite their meanings being di erently determined. For, if freestanding and embedded occurrences dif• fer in meaning, then the expressivist is apparently committed to the invalidity of recognized forms of valid argument (due to the fallacy of equivocation).. (shrink)