Frege's context principle and reference to natural numbers

In Sten Lindstr©œm, Erik Palmgren, Krister Segerberg & Viggo Stoltenberg-Hansen (eds.), logicism, intuitionism, and formalism - What has become of them? Berlin, Germany: Springer (2008)
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Abstract

Frege proposed that his Context Principle—which says that a word has meaning only in the context of a proposition—can be used to explain reference, both in general and to mathematical objects in particular. I develop a version of this proposal and outline answers to some important challenges that the resulting account of reference faces. Then I show how this account can be applied to arithmetic to yield an explanation of our reference to the natural numbers and of their metaphysical status.

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Øystein Linnebo
University of Oslo

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