Kant and Frege on existence

Synthese (8):01-26 (2018)
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According to what Jonathan Bennett calls the Kant–Frege view of existence, Frege gave solid logical foundations to Kant’s claim that existence is not a real predicate. In this article I will challenge Bennett’s claim by arguing that although Kant and Frege agree on what existence is not, they agree neither on what it is nor on the importance and justification of existential propositions. I identify three main differences: first, whereas for Frege existence is a property of a concept, for Kant it is a relational property pertaining between the concept and intuition of an object. Second, whereas for Frege truth about individuals presupposes their existence, for Kant truth is in many cases independent of the existence of objects. Third, whereas Frege binds logic to existence and removes modalities from logic, for Kant existence is a modal category that is emphatically removed from the domain of logic and set in the core of metaphysics. Due to these differences in Kant’s and Frege’s theories of existence, Frege cannot be seen as giving logical clarity to Kant’s view.

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Author's Profile

Toni Kannisto
University of Oslo

References found in this work

Uber Sinn und Bedeutung.Gottlob Frege - 1892 - Zeitschrift für Philosophie Und Philosophische Kritik 100 (1):25-50.
The Development of Logic.William Kneale & Martha Kneale - 1962 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
Kant's Transcendental Idealism.Henry E. Allison - 1988 - Yale University Press.
Funktion und Begriff.Gottlob Frege - 1891 - Jena: Hermann Pohle.

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