Frege, sense and limited rationality

History of Modern Logic 9:53-65 (2003)
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In this paper, I will discuss a well-known oscillation in Frege’s conception of sense. My point is only partially concerned with his two different criteria of sense identity, and touches upon a more specific point: what happens if we apply Frege’s intuitive criterion for the difference of thoughts to logically equivalent sentences? I will try to make a schematic argument here that will preempt any endeavor to make Frege more coherent than he really is. In sections A and B, I will present two alternative Fregean ways to treat the sense of logically equivalent sentences. Frege really oscillated between two alternative conceptions of sense, and his inability to detect the contrast between the two alternative conceptions is partly due to his strong conception of rationality. To apply the criterion of difference of thoughts to logical matters, we may also use a weak notion of rationality, or at least a notion of rationality of human agents, with limited computational resources. The distinctions towards which Frege was striving are better understood nowadays from the point of view of the treatment of limited rationality, which imposes itself even in logical matters.



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Carlo Penco
Università degli Studi di Genova

Citations of this work

Frege: Two theses, two senses.Carlo Penco - 2003 - History and Philosophy of Logic 24 (2):87-109.
Rational Procedures.Carlo Penco - 2009 - The Dialogue - Yearbook of Philosophical Hermenutics, Lit Verlag. Berlin, 2009 4 (1):137-153.
Sense and Proof.Carlo Penco & Daniele Porello - 2010 - In M. D'agostino, G. Giorello, F. Laudisa, T. Pievani & C. Sinigaglia (eds.), New Essays in Logic and Philosophy of Science,. College Publicationss.
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References found in this work

Logic and the complexity of reasoning.Hector J. Levesque - 1988 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 17 (4):355 - 389.
Tractable competence.Marcello Frixione - 2001 - Minds and Machines 11 (3):379-397.
The analysis of thoughts.Gregory Currie - 1985 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63 (3):283 – 298.
The formation of concepts and the structure of thoughts.David Bell - 1996 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (3):583-596.
A Note on Dummett and Frege on Sense‐Identity.Eva Picard - 1993 - European Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):69-80.

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