Meaning and reference

Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):699-711 (1973)
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Abstract

UNCLEAR as it is, the traditional doctrine that the notion "meaning" possesses the extension/intension ambiguity has certain typical consequences. The doctrine that the meaning of a term is a concept carried the implication that mean- ings are mental entities. Frege, however, rebelled against this "psy- chologism." Feeling that meanings are public property-that the same meaning can be "grasped" by more than one person and by persons at different times-he identified concepts (and hence "intensions" or meanings) with abstract entities rather than mental entities. However, "grasping" these abstract entities was still an individual psychological act. None of these philosophers doubted that understanding a word (knowing its intension) was just a matter of being in a certain psychological state (somewhat in the way in which knowing how to factor numbers in one's head is just a mat- ter of being in a certain very complex psychological state)

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