In Mind and World, John McDowell argues against the view that perceptual representation is non-conceptual. The central worry is that this view cannot offer any reasonable account of how perception bears rationally upon belief. I argue that this worry, though sensible, can be met, if we are clear that perceptual representation is, though non-conceptual, still in some sense 'assertoric': Perception, like belief, represents things as being thus and so.
An investigation of Frege’s various contributions to the study of language, focusing on three of his most famous doctrines: that concepts are unsaturated, that sentences refer to truth-values, and that sense must be distinguished from reference.
So-called 'Frege cases' pose a challenge for anyone who would hope to treat the contents of beliefs (and similar mental states) as Russellian propositions: It is then impossible to explain people's behavior in Frege cases without invoking non-intentional features of their mental states, and doing that seems to undermine the intentionality of psychological explanation. In the present paper, I develop this sort of objection in what seems to me to be its strongest form, but then offer a response to it. (...) I grant that psychological explanation must invoke non-intentional features of mental states, but it is of crucial importance which such features must be referenced. -/- It emerges from a careful reading of Frege's own view that we need only invoke what I call 'formal' relations between mental states. I then claim that referencing such 'formal' relations within psychological explanation does not undermine its intentionality in the way that invoking, say, neurological features would. The central worry about this view is that either (a) 'formal' relations bring narrow content in through back door or (b) 'formal' relations end up doing all the explanatory work. Various forms of each worry are discussed. The crucial point, ultimately, is that the present strategy for responding to Frege cases is not available either to the 'psycho-Fregean', who would identify the content of a belief with its truth-value, nor even to someone who would identify the content of a belief with a set of possible worlds. It requires the sort of rich semantic structure that is distinctive of Russellian propositions. There is therefore no reason to suppose that the invocation of 'formal' relations threatens to deprive content of any work to do. (shrink)
In an earlier paper, "Non-conceptual Content and the 'Space of Reasons'", I distinguished two forms of the view that perceptual content is non-conceptual, which I called the 'state view' and the 'content view'. On the latter, but not the former, perceptual states have a different kind of content than do cognitive states. Many have found it puzzling why anyone would want to make this claim and, indeed, what it might mean. This paper attempts to address these questions.
Frege held that referring expressions in general, and demonstratives and indexicals in particular, contribute more than just their reference to what is expressed by utterances of sentences containing them. Heck first attempts to get clear about what the essence of the Fregean view is, arguing that it rests upon a certain conception of linguistic communication that is ultimately indefensible. On the other hand, however, he argues that understanding a demonstrative (or indexical) utterance requires one to think of the object denoted (...) in an appropriate way. This fact makes it difficult to reconcile the view that referring expressions are "directly referential" with any view that seeks (as Grice's does) to ground meaning in facts about communication. (shrink)
Gareth Evans has argued that the existence of vague objects is logically precluded: The assumption that it is indeterminate whether some object a is identical to some object b leads to contradiction. I argue in reply that, although this is true—I thus defend Evans's argument, as he presents it—the existence of vague objects is not thereby precluded. An 'Indefinitist' need only hold that it is not logically required that every identity statement must have a determinate truth-value, not that some such (...) statements might actually fail to have a determinate truth-value. That makes Indefinitism a cousin of mathematical Intuitionism. (shrink)
Are Fregean thoughts compositionally complex and composed of senses? We argue that, in Begriffsschrift, Frege took 'conceptual contents' to be unstructured, but that he quickly moved away from this position, holding just two years later that conceptual contents divide of themselves into 'function' and 'argument'. This second position is shown to be unstable, however, by Frege's famous substitution puzzle. For Frege, the crucial question the puzzle raises is why "The Morning Star is a planet" and "The Evening Star is a (...) planet" have different contents, but his second position predicts that they should have the same content. Frege's response to this antinomy is of course to distinguish sense from reference, but what has not previously been noticed is that this response also requires thoughts to be compositionally complex, composed of senses. That, however, raises the question just how thoughts are composed from senses. We reconstruct a Fregean answer, one that turns on an insistence that this question must be understood as semantic rather than metaphysical. It is not a question about the intrinsic nature of residents of the third realm but a question about how thoughts are expressed by sentences. (shrink)
As is well-known, the formal system in which Frege works in his Grundgesetze der Arithmetik is formally inconsistent, Russell?s Paradox being derivable in it.This system is, except for minor differences, full second-order logic, augmented by a single non-logical axiom, Frege?s Axiom V. It has been known for some time now that the first-order fragment of the theory is consistent. The present paper establishes that both the simple and the ramified predicative second-order fragments are consistent, and that Robinson arithmetic, Q, is (...) relatively interpretable in the simple predicative fragment. The philosophical significance of the result is discussed. (shrink)
Many philosophers nowadays believe Frege was right about belief, but wrong about language: The contents of beliefs need to be individuated more finely than in terms of Russellian propositions, but the contents of utterances do not. I argue that this 'hybrid view' cannot offer no reasonable account of how communication transfers knowledge from one speaker to another and that, to do so, we must insist that understanding depends upon more than just getting the references of terms right.
It has been known for a few years that no more than Pi-1-1 comprehension is needed for the proof of "Frege's Theorem". One can at least imagine a view that would regard Pi-1-1 comprehension axioms as logical truths but deny that status to any that are more complex—a view that would, in particular, deny that full second-order logic deserves the name. Such a view would serve the purposes of neo-logicists. It is, in fact, no part of my view that, say, (...) Delta-3-1 comprehension axioms are not logical truths. What I am going to suggest, however, is that there is a special case to be made on behalf of Pi-1-1 comprehension. Making the case involves investigating extensions of first-order logic that do not rely upon the presence of second-order quantifiers. A formal system for so-called "ancestral logic" is developed, and it is then extended to yield what I call "Arché logic". (shrink)
I here investigate the sense in which diagonalization allows one to construct sentences that are self-referential. Truly self-referential sentences cannot be constructed in the standard language of arithmetic: There is a simple theory of truth that is intuitively inconsistent but is consistent with Peano arithmetic, as standardly formulated. True self-reference is possible only if we expand the language to include function-symbols for all primitive recursive functions. This language is therefore the natural setting for investigations of self-reference.
The purpose of this note is to present a strong form of the liar paradox. It is strong because the logical resources needed to generate the paradox are weak, in each of two senses. First, few expressive resources required: conjunction, negation, and identity. In particular, this form of the liar does not need to make any use of the conditional. Second, few inferential resources are required. These are: (i) conjunction introduction; (ii) substitution of identicals; and (iii) the inference: From ¬(p (...) ∧ p), infer ¬ p. It is, interestingly enough, also essential to the argument that the ‘strong’ form of the diagonal lemma be used: the one that delivers a term λ such that we can prove: λ = ¬ T(⌈λ⌉); rather than just a sentence Λ for which we can prove: Λ ≡ ¬T(⌈Λ⌉). -/- The truth-theoretic principles used to generate the paradox are these: ¬(S ∧ T(⌈¬S⌉); and ¬(¬S ∧ ¬T(⌈¬S⌉). These are classically equivalent to the two directions of the T-scheme, but they are intuitively weaker. -/- The lesson I would like to draw is: There can be no consistent solution to the Liar paradox that does not involve abandoning truth-theoretic principles that should be every bit as dear to our hearts as the T-scheme. So we shall have to learn to live with the Liar, one way or another. (shrink)
Hartry Field has suggested that we should adopt at least a methodological deflationism: [W]e should assume full-fledged deflationism as a working hypothesis. That way, if full-fledged deflationism should turn out to be inadequate, we will at least have a clearer sense than we now have of just where it is that inflationist assumptions ... are needed. I argue here that we do not need to be methodological deflationists. More pre-cisely, I argue that we have no need for a disquotational truth-predicate; (...) that the word true, in ordinary language, is not a disquotational truth-predicate; and that it is not at all clear that it is even possible to introduce a disquotational truth-predicate into ordinary language. If so, then we have no clear sense how it is even possible to be a methodological deflationist. My goal here is not to convince a committed deflationist to abandon his or her position. My goal, rather, is to argue, contrary to what many seem to think, that reflection on the apparently trivial character of T-sentences should not incline us to deflationism. (shrink)
This paper argues that that Caesar problem had a technical aspect, namely, that it threatened to make it impossible to prove, in the way Frege wanted, that there are infinitely many numbers. It then offers a solution to the problem, one that shows Frege did not really need the claim that "numbers are objects", not if that claim is intended in a form that forces the Caesar problem upon us.
Richard G. Heck presents a new account of Gottlob Frege's Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, or Basic Laws of Arithmetic, which establishes it as a neglected masterpiece at the center of Frege's philosophy. He explores Frege's philosophy of logic, and argues that Frege knew that his proofs could be reconstructed so as to avoid Russell's Paradox.
In this exciting new collection, a distinguished international group of philosophers contribute new essays on central issues in philosophy of language and logic, in honor of Michael Dummett, one of the most influential philosophers of the late twentieth century. The essays are focused on areas particularly associated with Professor Dummett. Five are contributions to the philosophy of language, addressing in particular the nature of truth and meaning and the relation between language and thought. Two contributors discuss time, in particular the (...) reality of the past. The last four essays focus on Frege and the philosophy of mathematics. The volume represents some of the best work in contemporary analytical philosophy. (shrink)
Frege, famously, held that there is a close connection between our concept of cardinal number and the notion of one-one correspondence, a connection enshrined in Hume's Principle. Husserl, and later Parsons, objected that there is no such close connection, that our most primitive conception of cardinality arises from our grasp of the practice of counting. Some empirical work on children's development of a concept of number has sometimes been thought to point in the same direction. I argue, however, that Frege (...) was close to right, that our concept of cardinal number is closely connected with a notion like that of one-one correspondence, a more primitive notion we might call just as many. (shrink)
A brief, non-technical introduction to technical and philosophical aspects of Frege's philosophy of arithmetic. The exposition focuses on Frege's Theorem, which states that the axioms of arithmetic are provable, in second-order logic, from a single non-logical axiom, "Hume's Principle", which itself is: The number of Fs is the same as the number of Gs if, and only if, the Fs and Gs are in one-one correspondence.
John McDowell has often emphasized the fact that the use of langauge is a rational enterprise. In this paper, I explore the sense in which this is so, arguing that our use of language depends upon our consciously knowing what our words mean. I call this a 'cognitive conception of semantic competence'. The paper also contains a close analysis of the phenomenon of implicature and some suggestions about how it should and should not be understood.
This paper attempts to address the question what logical strength theories of truth have by considering such questions as: If you take a theory T and add a theory of truth to it, how strong is the resulting theory, as compared to T? Once the question has been properly formulated, the answer turns out to be about as elegant as one could want: Adding a theory of truth to a finitely axiomatized theory T is more or less equivalent to a (...) kind of abstract consistency statement. A large part of the interest of the paper lies in the way syntactic theories are 'disentangled' from object theories. (shrink)
This paper considers a now familiar argument that the ubiquity of context -dependence threatens the project of natural language semantics, at least as that project has usually been conceived: as concerning itself with `what is said' by an utterance of a given sentence. I argue in response that the `anti-semantic' argument equivocates at a crucial point and, therefore, that we need not choose between semantic minimalism, truth-conditional pragmatism, and the like. Rather, we must abandon the idea, familiar from Kaplan and (...) others, that utterances express propositions `relative to contexts' and replace it with the Strawonian idea that speakers express propositions by making utterances in contexts. The argument for this claim consists in a detailed investigation of the particular case of demonstratives, which I argue demand such a Strawsonian treatment. I then respond to several objections, the most important of which allege that the Strawsonian account somehow undermines the project of natural language semantics, or threatens the semantics -pragmatics distinction. Please note that the paper posted here is an extended version of what was published. (shrink)
Read as a comment on Crispin Wright's \"Vagueness: A Fifth Column Approach\", this paper defends a form of supervaluationism against Wright's criticisms. Along the way, however, it takes up the question what is really wrong with Epistemicism, how the appeal of the Sorities ought properly to be understood, and why Contextualist accounts of vagueness won't do.
Discusses Frege's formal definitions and characterizations of infinite and finite sets. Speculates that Frege might have discovered the "oddity" in Dedekind's famous proof that all infinite sets are Dedekind infinite and, in doing so, stumbled across an axiom of countable choice.
The primary purpose of this note is to demonstrate that predicative Frege arithmetic naturally interprets certain weak but non-trivial arithmetical theories. It will take almost as long to explain what this means and why it matters as it will to prove the results.
In recent work on Frege, one of the most salient issues has been whether he was prepared to make serious use of semantical notions such as reference and truth. I argue here Frege did make very serious use of semantical concepts. I argue, first, that Frege had reason to be interested in the question how the axioms and rules of his formal theory might be justified and, second, that he explicitly commits himself to offering a justification that appeals to the (...) notion of reference. I then discuss the justifications Frege offered, focusing on his discussion of inferences involving free variables, in section 17 of Grundgesetze, and his argument, in sections 29-32, that every well-formed expression of his formal language has a unique reference. (shrink)
John Etchemendy has argued that it is but "a fortuitous accident" that Tarski's work on truth has any signifance at all for semantics. I argue, in response, that Etchemendy and others, such as Scott Soames and Hilary Putnam, have been misled by Tarski's emphasis on definitions of truth rather than theories of truth and that, once we appreciate how Tarski understood the relation between these, we can answer Etchemendy's implicit and explicit criticisms of neo-Davidsonian semantics.
The paper formulates and proves a strengthening of Freges Theorem, which states that axioms for second-order arithmetic are derivable in second-order logic from Humes Principle, which itself says that the number of Fs is the same as the number ofGs just in case the Fs and Gs are equinumerous. The improvement consists in restricting this claim to finite concepts, so that nothing is claimed about the circumstances under which infinite concepts have the same number. Finite Humes Principle also suffices for (...) the derivation of axioms for arithmetic and, indeed, is equivalent to a version of them, in the presence of Freges definitions of the primitive expressions of the language of arithmetic. The philosophical significance of this result is also discussed. (shrink)
This paper discusses the question whether it is possible to explain the notion of a singular term without invoking the notion of an object or other ontological notions. The framework here is that of Michael Dummett's discussion in Frege: Philosophy of Language. I offer an emended version of Dummett's conditions, accepting but modifying some suggestions made by Bob Hale, and defend the emended conditions against some objections due to Crispin Wright. This paper dates from about 1989. It originally formed part (...) of a very early draft of what became my Ph.D. dissertation. I rediscovered it and began scanning it, when I had nothing better to do, in Fall 2001, making some minor editing changes along the way. Suffice it to say that it no longer represents my current views. I hope, however, that it remains of some small interest. (shrink)
Frege's development of the theory of arithmetic in his Grundgesetze der Arithmetik has long been ignored, since the formal theory of the Grundgesetze is inconsistent. His derivations of the axioms of arithmetic from what is known as Hume's Principle do not, however, depend upon that axiom of the system--Axiom V--which is responsible for the inconsistency. On the contrary, Frege's proofs constitute a derivation of axioms for arithmetic from Hume's Principle, in (axiomatic) second-order logic. Moreover, though Frege does prove each of (...) the now standard Dedekind-Peano axioms, his proofs are devoted primarily to the derivation of his own axioms for arithmetic, which are somewhat different (though of course equivalent). These axioms, which may be yet more intuitive than the Dedekind-Peano axioms, may be taken to be "The Basic Laws of Cardinal Number", as Frege understood them. Though the axioms of arithmetic have been known to be derivable from Hume's Principle for about ten years now, it has not been widely recognized that Frege himself showed them so to be; nor has it been known that Frege made use of any axiomatization for arithmetic whatsoever. Grundgesetze is thus a work of much greater significance than has often been thought. First, Frege's use of the inconsistent Axiom V may invalidate certain of his claims regarding the philosophical significance of his work (viz., the establishment of Logicism), but it should not be allowed to obscure his mathematical accomplishments and his contribution to our understanding of arithmetic. Second, Frege's knowledge that arithmetic is derivable from Hume's Principle raises important sorts of questions about his philosophy of arithmetic. For example, "Why did Frege not simply abandon Axiom V and take Hume's Principle as an axiom?". (shrink)
This paper is concerned with neo-Fregean accounts of reference to abstract objects. It develops an objection to the most familiar such accounts, due to Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, based upon what I call the 'proliferation problem': Hale and Wright's account makes reference to abstract objects seem too easy, as is shown by the fact that any equivalence relation seems as good as any other. The paper then develops a response to this objection, and offers an account of what it (...) is for abstracta to exist that is Fregean in spirit but more robust than familiar views. (shrink)
This paper contains a close analysis of Frege's proofs of the axioms of arithmetic §§70-83 of Die Grundlagen, with special attention to the proof of the existence of successors in §§82-83. Reluctantly and hesitantly, we come to the conclusion that Frege was at least somewhat confused in those two sections and that he cannot be said to have outlined, or even to have intended, any correct proof there. The proof he sketches is in many ways similar to that given in (...) Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, but fidelity to what Frege wrote in Die Grundlagen and in Grundgesetze requires us to reject the charitable suggestion that it was this (beautiful) proof that he had in mind in §§82-83. (shrink)
In "Counting and Indeterminate Identity", N. Ángel Pinillos develops an argument that there can be no cases of `Split Indeterminate Identity'. Such a case would be one in which it was indeterminate whether a=b and indeterminate whether a=c, but determinately true that b≠c. The interest of the argument lies, in part, in the fact that it appears to appeal to none of the controversial claims to which similar arguments due to Gareth Evans and Nathan Salmon appeal. I argue for two (...) counter-claims. First, the formal argument fails to establish its conclusion, for essentially the same reason Evans's and Salmon's arguments fail to establish their conclusions. Second, the phenomena in which Pinillos is interested, which concern the cardinalities of sets of vague objects, manifest the existence of what Kit Fine called `penumbral connections', phenomena that the logics Pinillos considers are already known not to handle well. (shrink)
A general survey of Frege's views on truth, the paper explores the problems in response to which Frege's distinctive view that sentences refer to truth-values develops. It also discusses his view that truth-values are objects and the so-called regress argument for the indefinability of truth. Finally, we consider, very briefly, the question whether Frege was a deflationist.
One of the earliest discussions of the so-called 'bad company' objection to Neo-Fregeanism, I show that the consistency of an arbitrary second-order 'contextual definition' (nowadays known as an 'abstraction principle' is recursively undecidable. I go on to suggest that an acceptable such principle should satisfy a condition nowadays known as 'stablity'.
This paper dates from about 1994: I rediscovered it on my hard drive in the spring of 2002. It represents an early attempt to explore the connections between the Julius Caesar problem and Frege's attitude towards Basic Law V. Most of the issues discussed here are ones treated rather differently in my more recent papers "The Julius Caesar Objection" and "Grundgesetze der Arithmetik I 10". But the treatment here is more accessible, in many ways, providing more context and a better (...) sense of how this issue relates to broader issues in Frege's philosophy. (shrink)
Many philosophers have been attracted to the idea that meaning is, in some way or other, determined by use—chief among them, perhaps, Michael Dummett. But John McDowell has argued that Dummett, and anyone else who would seek to draw serious philosophical conclusions from this claim, must face a dilemma: Either the use of a sentence is characterized in terms of what it can be used to say, in which case profound philosophical consequences can hardly follow, or it will be impossible (...) to make out the sense in which the use of language is a rational activity. The paper evaluates McDowell's arguments and, in so doing, attempts to offer an initial sketch of how the notion of use might be so understood that the claim that use determines meaning is a substantive one. (I do not take any stand here on whether one should accept that claim.). (shrink)
John MacFarlane has made relativism popular again. Focusing just on his original discussion, I argue that the data he uses to motivate the position do not, in fact, motivatie it at all. Many of the points made here have since been made, independently, by Hermann Cappelen and John Hawthorne, in their book Relativism and Monadic Truth.
A discussion of Crispin Wright's 'paradox of higher-order vagueness', I suggest that the paradox may be resolved by careful attention to the logical principles used in its formulation. In particular, I focus attention on the rule of inference that allows for the inference from A to 'Definitely A', and argue that this rule, though valid, may not be used in subordinate deductions, e.g., in the course of a conditional proof. Wright's paradox uses the rule (or its equivalent) in this way.
Syntactic Reductionism, as understood here, is the view that the ‘logical forms’ of sentences in which reference to abstract objects appears to be made are misleading so that, on analysis, we can see that no expressions which even purport to refer to abstract objects are present in such sentences. After exploring the motivation for such a view, and arguing that no previous argument against it succeeds, sentences involving generalized quantifiers, such as ‘most’, are examined. It is then argued, on this (...) basis, that Syntactic Reductionism is untenable. (shrink)
Primarily a response to Paul Horwich's "Composition of Meanings", the paper attempts to refute his claim that compositionality—roughly, the idea that the meaning of a sentence is determined by the meanings of its parts and how they are there combined—imposes no substantial constraints on semantic theory or on our conception of the meanings of words or sentences. Show Abstract.
Øystein Linnebo has recently shown that the existence of successors cannot be proven in predicative Frege arithmetic, using Frege’s definitions of arithmetical notions. By contrast, it is shown here that the existence of successor can be proven in ramified predicative Frege arithmetic.
The 'substitution argument' purports to demonstrate the falsity of Russellian accounts of belief-ascription by observing that, e.g., these two sentences: -/- (LC) Lois believes that Clark can fly. (LS) Lois believes that Superman can fly. -/- could have different truth-values. But what is the basis for that claim? It seems widely to be supposed, especially by Russellians, that it is simply an 'intuition', one that could then be 'explained away'. And this supposition plays an especially important role in Jennifer Saul's (...) defense of Russellianism, based upon the existence of an allegedly similar contrast between these two sentences: -/- (PC) Superman is more popular than Clark. (PS) Superman is more popular than Superman. -/- The latter contrast looks pragmatic. But then, Saul asks, why shouldn't we then say the same about the former? -/- The answer to this question is that the two cases simply are not similar. In the case of (PC) and (PS), we have only the facts that these strike us differently, and that people will sometimes say things like (PC), whereas they will never say things like (PS). By contrast, there is an argument to be given that (LS) can be true even if (LC) is false, and this argument does not appeal to anyone's 'intuitions'. -/- The main goal of the paper is to present such a version of the substitution argument, building upon the treatment of the Fregan argument against Russellian accounts of belief itself in "Solving Frege's Puzzle". A subsidiary goal is to contribute to the growing literature arguing that 'intuitions' simply do not play the sort of role in philosophical inquiry that so-called 'experimental philosophers' have supposed they do. (shrink)
In his 'Meaning and Truth-Conditions', Gary Kemp offers a reconstruction of Frege's infamous 'regress argument' which purports to rely only upon the premises that the meaning of a sentence is its truth-condition and that each sentence expresses a unique proposition. If cogent, the argument would show that only someone who accepts a form of semantic holism can use the notion of truth to explain that of meaning. I respond that Kemp relies heavily upon what he himself styles 'a literal, rather (...) wooden' understanding of truth-conditions. I explore alternatives, and say a few words about how Frege's regress argument might best be understood. (shrink)
An investigation of what Frege means by his doctrine that functions (and so concepts) are 'unsaturated'. We argue that this doctrine is far less peculiar than it is usually taken to be. What makes it hard to understand, oddly enough, is the fact that it is so deeply embedded in our contemporary understanding of logic and language. To see this, we look at how it emerges out of Frege's confrontation with the Booleans and how it expresses a fundamental difference between (...) Frege's approach to logic and theirs. (shrink)