This is an article for an upcoming volume of essays in honor and memory of Eva Picardi. I engage with the literature that has tried to distill the significance of Frege's contextprinciple for the philosophy of language (setting aside its role in Frege's argument for mathematical platonism). I argue that there are some interpretive problems with recent meta-semantic interpretations of the principle. Instead, I offer a somewhat weaker alternative: the contextprinciple is a tool (...) to license certain definitions. Moreover, I claim that it merely lays out one of many possible ways of licensing a definition. Despite Frege's imperative injunctions, we should take it to be a permission statement, not an obligation. (shrink)
This paper discusses Michael Dummett’s criticism of the Neo-Fregean concep- tion of the contextprinciple. I will present four arguments by Dummett that purport to show that the contextprinciple is incompatible with platonism. I discuss and ultimately reject each argument. I will close this paper by identifying what I take to be a deep rooted tension in the Neo-Fregean project which might have motivated Dummett’s opposition to the Neo-Fregean use of the contextprinciple. (...) I argue that this tension does give rise to a legitimate concern, yet it does not affect the Neo-Fregean conception of the contextprinciple. (shrink)
Dummettian anti-realism–the refusal to endorse bivalence–is generally thought to be associated with idealism This paper argues that this is only true of the position developed by early Dummett. In a later manifestation Dummettian anti-realism is better thought of as providing the logic for anti-realisms of an error theoretic kind. Early on Dummett distinguished deep from shallow arguments for giving up bivalence: deep arguments followed a strong ‘sufficiency’ reading of Frege’s contextprinciple, and made the sentence the primary vehicle (...) of meaning. Enriched by an account of truth in terms of verifiability, deep arguments implied a form of linguistic idealism. From within a perspective that had already made ontology relative to theory, it was natural for the difference between realism and idealism to hinge on the notion of truth for sentences. Having given up the distinction between deep and shallow arguments against bivalence, Dummett, post 1990, asserts that every rejection of bivalence leads to a form of anti-realism. In the intervening years, he has also come to cast doubt on the sufficiency reading of the contextprinciple, particularly as developed by Crispin Wright. These doubts open the space for some more simple-minded criticisms of this strong version of the contextprinciple, developed in the paper. Once the sufficiency reading of the contextprinciple is given up, arguments for failing to assert bivalence come to hinge on beliefs about ‘genuine’ existence. These forms of anti-realism cannot be taken to imply idealism. Rather, in many cases they will be the expression of views of an error-theoretic kind, that are quite compatible with a thorough-going rejection of idealism. (shrink)
_ Source: _Page Count 21 The “ContextPrinciple”, as the author understands it in this paper, is the claim that sub-sentential linguistic expressions have meaning only in the context of complete meaningful sentences. The author reconstructs the version of the ContextPrinciple that Wittgenstein holds in the _Tractatus_, shows that it has intuitive plausibility and can be defended against alleged counterexamples, and develops an argument for its truth that can be found in the _Tractatus_. In (...) short, the author argues that the “fit” between the meanings of sentences and the meanings of the expressions they contain can only be adequately explained if one acknowledges that for a sub-sentential expression to have meaning _is_ for it to make a contribution to the meaning of a sentence. (shrink)
Frege proposed that his ContextPrinciple—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. (shrink)
This paper explores the limitations of current empirical approaches to the philosophy of language in light of a recent criticism of Frege's contextprinciple. According to this criticism, the contextprinciple is in conflict with certain features of natural language use and this is held to undermine its application in Foundations of Arithmetic. I argue that this view is mistaken because the features with which the contextprinciple is alleged to be in conflict are (...) irrelevant to the principle's methodological significance for our understanding of the role of analysis in analytic philosophy. (shrink)
There is considerable likelihood that Gottlob Frege began writing his Foundations of Arithmetic with the expectation that he could introduce his numbers, not with sets, but through some algebraic techniques borrowed from earlier writers of the Gottingen school. These rewriting techniques, had they worked, would have required strong philosophical justification provided by Frege's celebrated "contextprinciple," which otherwise serves little evident purpose in the published Foundations.
In this paper, I try to uncover the role played by Wittgenstein's contextprinciple in his criticism of Russell's theory of types. There is evidence in Wittgenstein's writings that a syntactical version of the contextprinciple in connection with the theory of symbolism functions as a good reason for his dispensing with the theory of types.
I explore the decisive connection Frege often draws between the contextprinciple and antipsychologism, arguing that his assertion of this connection occupies a central place within the articulation of his linguistic method. In particular, Frege’s appeal to the contextprinciple in the course of describing the epistemology of arithmetic, I argue, connects his doctrine of the nature of judgment with his defense of the objecthood of numbers, showing how an appeal to the special role of judgment (...) in securing truth can function as a linguistically based account of objectivity that excludes subjectivist psychologism. Expanding and clarifying this appeal, moreover, allows us to understand better the special pragmatic position of the recognition of patterns of use and practice in the process of analyzing meanings. In particular, it emerges that these patterns cannot bear the explanatory weight they have sometimes been taken to bear within an envisaged reductive “theory of meaning.” Rather, their recognition must figure within a practice of analysis that is continuous with, rather than an explanatory reduction of, our ordinary discursive practices, and whose elucidatory resources are not accessible except from within the perspective of those practices. (shrink)
This thesis is concerned with explaining how a subject can acquire a priori knowledge of arithmetic. Every account for arithmetical, and in general mathematical knowledge faces Benacerraf's well-known challenge, i.e. how to reconcile the truths of mathematics with what can be known by ordinary human thinkers. I suggest four requirements that jointly make up this challenge and discuss and reject four distinct solutions to it. This will motivate a broadly Fregean approach to our knowledge of arithmetic and mathematics in general. (...) Pursuing this strategy appeals to the contextprinciple which, it is proposed, underwrites a form of Platonism and explains how reference to and object-directed thought about abstract entities is, in principle, possible. I discuss this principle and defend it against different criticisms as put forth in recent literature. Moreover, I will offer a general framework for implicit definitions by means of which - without an appeal to a faculty of intuition or purely pragmatic considerations - a priori and non-inferential knowledge of basic mathematical principles can be acquired. In the course of this discussion, I will argue against various types of opposition to this general approach. Also, I will highlight crucial shortcomings in the explanation of how implicit definitions may underwrite a priori knowledge of basic principles in broadly similar conceptions. In the final part, I will offer a general account of how non-inferential mathematical knowledge resulting from implicit definitions is best conceived which avoids these shortcomings. (shrink)
I try to reconstruct how Frege thought to reconcile the cognitive value of arithmetic with its analytical nature. There is evidence in Frege's texts that the epistemological formulation of the contextprinciple plays a decisive role; it provides a way of obtaining concepts which are truly fruitful and whose contents cannot be grasped beforehand. Taking the definitions presented in the Begriffsschrift,I shall illustrate how this schema is intended to work.
Pretendo usar o exemplo dos nomes de percursos de valores como prova de que, contrariamente ao que Michael Resnik e Michael Dummett sustentam, Frege nunca abandonou o seu princípio do contexto: “Apenas no contexto de uma sentenya tem uma palavra significado”. Em particular, pretendo mostrar que a prova da completude com relação ao significado, que Frege tentou introduzir na linguagem formal das Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, baseia-se em uma aplicação do principio do contexto, e que, em consequencia, tambem nomes de percursos (...) de valores tem significado apenas nocontexto de uma sentença. A teoria Fregeana do sentido e do significado somente pode ser entendida adequadamente sob o pano de fundo do princfpio do contexto.Taking course-of-values names as an example, I want to show that, contrary to what Michael Resnik and Michael Dummett claim, Frege never abandoned his contextprinciple “Only in the context of a sentence do words have meaning”. In particular, I want to show that Frege’s attempted proof of referentiality for the formal language of Grundgesetze der Arithmetik rests on the contextprinciple and that, consequently, course-of-values names have a reference only in the context of a sentence. It is only in the light of the contextprinciple that Frege’s theory of sense and reference can be understood appropriately. (shrink)
Gottlob Frege and Ludwig Wittgenstein (the later Wittgenstein) are often seen as polar opposites with respect to their fundamental philosophical outlooks: Frege as a paradigmatic "realist", Wittgenstein as a paradigmatic "anti-realist". This opposition is supposed to find its clearest expression with respect to mathematics: Frege is seen as the "arch-platonist", Wittgenstein as some sort of "radical anti-platonist". Furthermore, seeing them as such fits nicely with a widely shared view about their relation: the later Wittgenstein is supposed to have developed his (...) ideas in direct opposition to Frege. The purpose of this paper is to challenge these standard assumptions. I will argue that Frege's and Wittgenstein's basic outlooks have something crucial in common; and I will argue that this is the result of the positive influence Frege had on Wittgenstein. (shrink)
ABSTRACTEffective infectious disease control may require states to restrict the liberty of individuals. Since preventing harm to others is almost universally accepted as a legitimate reason for restricting the liberty of individuals, it seems plausible to employ a mid‐level harm principle in infectious disease control. Moral practices like infectious disease control support – or even require – a certain level of theory‐modesty. However, employing a mid‐level harm principle in infectious disease control faces at least three problems. First, it (...) is unclear what we gain by attaining convergence on a specific formulation of the harm principle. Likely candidates for convergence, a harm principle aimed at preventing harmful conduct, supplemented by considerations of effectiveness and always choosing the least intrusive means still leave ample room for normative disagreement. Second, while mid‐level principles are sometimes put forward in response to the problem of normative theories attaching different weight to moral principles, employing a mid‐level harm principle completely leaves open how to determine what weight to attach to it in application. Third, there appears to be a trade‐off between attaining convergence and finding a formulation of the harm principle that can justify liberty‐restrictions in all situations of contagion, including interventions that are commonly allowed. These are not reasons to abandon mid‐level theorizing altogether. But there is no reason to be too theory‐modest in applied ethics. Morally justifying e.g. if a liberty‐restriction in infectious disease control is proportional to the aim of harm‐prevention, promptly requires moving beyond the mid‐level harm principle. (shrink)
The paper starts with the assumption that the Precautionary Principle (PP) is one of the most important elements of the concept of sustainability. It is noted that PP has entered international treaties and national law. PP is widely referred to as a central principle of environmental policy. However, the precise content of PP remains largely unclear. In particular it seems unclear how PP relates to science. In section 2 of the paper a general overview of some historical and (...) systematic features of PP are presented. In section 3 a specific case is discussed in greater detail. It is claimed that the escape of farmed salmon from fish cages in the Sea, and its eventual invasion of the breeding places of the wild salmon up the rivers, must be regarded a proper case for applying PP. Yet there is no single PP-strategy. Instead, four different strategies are presented, and all of them can be regarded precautionary strategies in the light of PP. The choice between these strategies is based upon personal values. In section 4 of the paper a general analysis is given which relates these different value perspectives to basic differences in risk aversion, which in turn are related to differing conceptions of nature and/or society. In the concluding section 5 some general consequences of the foregoing analysis are outlined. (shrink)
Commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have sparked profound controversies concerning adequate approaches to risk regulation. Scientific uncertainty and ambiguity, omitted research areas, and lack of basic knowledge crucial to risk assessmentshave become apparent. The objective of this article is to discuss the policy and practical implementation of the Precautionary Principle. A major conclusion is that the void in scientific understanding concerning risks posed by secondary effects and the complexity ofcause-effect relations warrant further research. Initiatives to approach the acceptance (...) or rejection of a number of risk-associated hypotheses is badly needed. Further, since scientific advice plays a key role in GMOregulations, scientists have a responsibility to address and communicate uncertainty to policy makers and the public. Hence, the acceptance of uncertainty is not only a scientific issue, but is related to public policy and involves an ethical dimension. (shrink)
The precautionary principle is frequently referred to in various momentous decisions affecting human health and the environment. It has been invoked in contexts as diverse as chemicals regulation, regulation of genetically modified organisms, and research into life-extending therapies. Precaution is not an unknown concept in medical contexts. One author even cites the Hippocratic Oath as a parallel to the precautionary principle.
The concern of this essay is to reveal the way in which an architecture of Humean and Cartesian thought, taken for granted by both analytical and critical approaches to legal theory, has stood in the way of demonstrating that facts can be justifications of judicial decisions without recourse to an additional layer of moral or political justification. The inability to demonstrate the normativity of legal facts or state affairs has been the single most serious defect in traditions of pragmatic thought (...) about law (e.g. in legal realism and its contemporary descendants such as critical legal studies, feminist and critical race theory, socio-legal studies etc.). The analysis in this essay provides an argument for abandoning many taken for granted oppositions which inhibit pragmatic and realist approaches to law. These include the stark oppositions between: hermeneutic and causal explanation in law; reasons for decisions and reasons why decisions were reached; normative factors and pure fact etc. The author's chief concern is to demonstrate the possibility of uniting the logic of judicial reasoning with the logic of factual context, and to demonstrate that justification in law is not to be identified with the justification of ethical propositions. (shrink)
Whereas indirect euthanasia is a common clinical practice, active euthanasia remains forbidden in most countries. The reason for this differentiation is usually seen in the principle of double-effect (PDE). PDE states that there is a morally relevant difference between the intended consequences of an action and merely foreseen, unintended side-effects. This article discloses the fundamental assumptions presenting the basis for this application of the PDE and examines whether these assumptions are compatible with the PDE. It is shown that neither (...) a liberal nor a utilitarian point of view makes the utilization of the PDE possible. In accordance with philosophical tradition, only within the doctrine of the sanctity of life does the PDE seem to be applicable. By analysing the premises of this doctrine, and comparing them with those of the PDE, the inconsistency of this idea is demonstrated. It is suggested that the role of the PDE in the current discussion on euthanasia is largely exaggerated. (shrink)
This essay critically assesses two strategies of accommodation used by defenders of impartialism in ethics to argue that the care orientation represents no genuine challenge to impartialist theoretical paradigms. One strategy focuses on impartiality as a constraint on moral deliberation, the other as a constraint on moral justification. While highlighting respects in which the commitment to impartiality is more consonant with the care orientation than many advocates of care have acknowledged, this essay attempts to clarify crucial ways in which each (...) accommodationist strategy falls, thus locating some of the more important contributions and challenges the care orientation offers to moral theory. (shrink)
In this essay I will consider two theses that are associated with Frege,and will investigate the extent to which Frege really believed them.Much of what I have to say will come as no surprise to scholars of thehistorical Frege. But Frege is not only a historical figure; he alsooccupies a site on the philosophical landscape that has allowed hisdoctrines to seep into the subconscious water table. And scholars in a widevariety of different scholarly establishments then sip from thesedoctrines. I believe (...) that some Frege-interested philosophers at various ofthese establishments might find my conclusions surprising.Some of these philosophical establishments have arisen from an educationalmilieu in which Frege is associated with some specific doctrine at theexpense of not even being aware of other milieux where other specificdoctrines are given sole prominence. The two theses which I will discussillustrate this point. Each of them is called Frege''s Principle, but byphilosophers from different milieux. By calling them milieux I do not want to convey the idea that they are each located at some specificsocio-politico-geographico-temporal location. Rather, it is a matter oftheir each being located at different places on the intellectuallandscape. For this reason one might (and I sometimes will) call them(interpretative) traditions. (shrink)
Amie Thomasson and Eli Hirsch have both attempted to deflate metaphysics, by combining Carnapian ideas with an appeal to ordinary language. My main aim in this paper is to critique such deflationary appeals to ordinary language. Focussing on Thomasson, I draw two very general conclusions. First: ordinary language is a wildly complicated phenomenon. Its implicit ontological commitments can only be tackled by invoking a contextprinciple; but this will mean that ordinary language ontology is not a trivial enterprise. (...) Second: ordinary language often points in different directions simultaneously, so that a wide variety of existence questions cannot be deflated merely by appealing to ordinary language. (shrink)