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.
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.
Rae Langton and Caroline West have argued that pornography silences women by presupposing misogynistic attitudes, such as that women enjoy being raped. More precisely, they claim that a somewhat infamous pictorial, “Dirty Pool”, makes such presuppositions. I argue for four claims. (i) Langton and West's account of how pornography silences women is empirically dubious. (ii) There is no evidence that very much pornography makes the sorts of presuppositions they require. (iii) Even "Dirty Pool", for all its other problems, does not (...) make the presuppositions that Langton and West claim it does. (iv) Langton and West misread “Dirty Pool” because they do not take proper account of the fact that pornography traffics in sexual fantasy. (shrink)
In 'Scorekeeping in a Pornographic Language Game', Rae Langton and Caroline West borrow ideas from David Lewis to attempt to explain how pornography might subordinate and silence women. Pornography is supposed to express certain misogynistic claims implicitly, through presupposition, and to convey them indirectly, through accommodation. I argue that the appeal to accommodation cannot do the sort of work Langton and West want it to do: Their case rests upon an overly simpified model of that phenomenon. I argue further that, (...) once we are clear about why Langton and West's account fails, a different and more plausible account of pornography's influence emerges. (shrink)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
The paper formulates and proves a strengthening of 'Frege's Theorem', which states that axioms for second-order arithmetic are derivable in second-order logic from Hume's Principle, which itself says that the number of Fs is the same as the number of Gs 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 Hume's Principle' also suffices (...) for the derivation of axioms for arithmetic and, indeed, is equivalent to a version of them, in the presence of Frege's definitions of the primitive expressions of the language of arithmetic. The philosophical significance of this result is also discussed. (shrink)
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'.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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)
This paper investigates a set of issues connected with the so-called conservativeness argument against deflationism. Although I do not defend that argument, I think the discussion of it has raised some interesting questions about whether what I call “compositional principles,” such as “a conjunction is true iff its conjuncts are true,” have substantial content or are in some sense logically trivial. The paper presents a series of results that purport to show that the compositional principles for a first-order language, taken (...) together, have substantial logical strength, amounting to a kind of abstract consistency statement. (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.
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
Some years ago, Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich reported the results of experiments that reveal, they claim, cross-cultural differences in speaker’s ‘intuitions’ about Kripke’s famous Gödel–Schmidt case. Several authors have suggested, however, that the question they asked their subjects is ambiguous between speaker’s reference and semantic reference. Machery and colleagues have since made a number of replies. It is argued here that these are ineffective. The larger lesson, however, concerns the role that first-order philosophy should, and more importantly should not, (...) play in the design of such experiments and in the evaluation of their results. (shrink)
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)
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.
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? It turns out that, in a wide range of cases, we can get some nice answers to this question, but only if we work in a framework that is somewhat different from those usually employed in discussions of (...) axiomatic theories of truth. These results are then used to address a range of philosophical questions connected with truth, such as what Tarski meant by "essential richness" and the so-called conservativeness argument against deflationism. -/- This draft dates from about 2009, with some significant updates having been made around 2011. Around then, however, I decided that the paper was becoming unmanageable and that I was trying to do too many things in it. I have therefore exploded the paper into several pieces, which will be published separately. These include "Disquotationalism and the Compositional Principles", "The Logical Strength of Compositional Principles", "Consistency and the Theory of Truth", and "What Is Essential Richness?" You should probably read those instead, since this draft remains a bit of a mess. Terminology and notation are inconsistent, and some of the proofs aren't quite right. So, caveat lector. I make it public only because it has been cited in a few places now. (shrink)
In ‘What’s Puzzling Gottlob Frege?’ Michael Thau and Ben Caplan argue that, contrary to the common wisdom, Frege never abandoned his early view that, as he puts it in Begriffsschrift, a statement of identity ‘expresses the circumstance that two names have the same content’ and thus asserts the existence of a relation between names rather than a relation between objects. The arguments at the beginning of ‘On Sense and Reference’ do, they agree, raise a problem for that view, but, they (...) insist, Frege does not, as the ‘standard’ interpretation has it, take these arguments to refute it. Rather, they claim, Frege is out to defend his earlier view against these objections: indeed, the defense he there offers is pretty much the same defense offered in Begriffsschrift against what are pretty much the same objections. (shrink)
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)
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)
Frege's intention in section 31 of Grundgesetze is to show that every well-formed expression in his formal system denotes. But it has been obscure why he wants to do this and how he intends to do it. It is argued here that, in large part, Frege's purpose is to show that the smooth breathing, from which names of value-ranges are formed, denotes; that his proof that his other primitive expressions denote is sound and anticipates Tarski's theory of truth; and that (...) the proof that the smooth breathing denotes, while flawed, rests upon an idea now familiar from the completeness proof for first-order logic. The main work of the paper consists in defending a new understanding of the semantics Frege offers for the quantifiers: one which is objectual, but which does not make use of the notion of an assignment to a free variable. (shrink)
In his paper “Flaws of Formal Relationism”, Mahrad Almotahari argues against the sort of response to Frege's Puzzle I have defended elsewhere, which he dubs ‘Formal Relationism’. Almotahari argues that, because of its specifically formal character, this view is vulnerable to objections that cannot be raised against the otherwise similar Semantic Relationism due to Kit Fine. I argue in response that Formal Relationism has neither of the flaws Almotahari claims to identify.
The main focus of my comments is the role played in Dickie's view by the idea that "the mind has a need to represent things outside itself". But there are also some remarks about her (very interesting) suggestion that descriptive names can sometimes fail to refer to the object that satisfies the associated description.