How to infer what persistent things are up to – a Fregean puzzle for traditional Fregeans

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 66 (1):92-121 (2023)
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How do we inferentially unify separately acquired empirical information into a single comprehensive picture of the lives of persistent particulars? This paper argues that hidden in such inferences is a Fregean puzzle that can only be solved by individuating our demonstratives thoughts in terms of object-dependent Fregean Senses. I begin by characterizing some constraints on a non-skeptical account of our inferential unification of empirical information. I then go on to show that traditional Fregean views of Sense cannot explain the rationality of such inferences; the consequence of which would be widespread skepticism concerning fundamental aspects of our empirical worldview. I show how the theory of object-dependent Senses can account for the rationality of the puzzling inferences. Lastly, I consider the alternative that we abandon a Fregean explanation of the rationality of inferences. While not fully dismissing that option, I briefly raise, what I take to be, a daunting challenge that uniquely faces non-Fregean views of rational inference.



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Author's Profile

Johan Gersel
University of Copenhagen

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Individualism and the mental.Tyler Burge - 1979 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.
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Warrant for nothing (and foundations for free)?Crispin Wright - 2004 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 78 (1):167–212.

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