In this paper I look at Frege’s theory of concepts as functions, but also his categorical divide between concepts and objects. I discuss his paradoxical statement that «The concept horse is not a concept», employing his logico-semantic theory as a background. What is clear from Frege’s writings is that he sees an important difference between talking about an F and talking about the F (where «F» is any common noun). Used with the indefinite article and the copula, as is the second occurrence of the noun «concept» in Frege’s statement, it functions as a predicate, whose Fregean Bedeutung (reference) is always what Frege calls a «concept»; used with the definite article, as is the first occurrence of «concept» in Frege’s statement, it functions as a singular term, whose Fregean Bedeutung is always an object and therefore not a concept. The consequence of this is that it is impossible to refer with a singular term to a concept and thus for Frege to say what he intends to say. I go into this in some detail and also discuss the connection between Frege’s view of concepts as not being objects and his disastrous basic law V. In conclusion I concentrate on the question of which kind of object the singular term «the concept horse» actually refers to in Frege’s view. I reject the widely accepted answer that it is the extension of the concept word «horse». Rather, I propose that it is something that has no special place in Frege’s semantical ontology.
Frege defends a factualist conception of logical laws. He argues that the laws of logic are descriptive, since they tell us something about how the world is. According to some of Frege’s interpreters – among them, James Conant and Hilary Putnam – Frege inherits the Kantian view of logic, which holds that accord with the laws of logic is constitutive of the possibility of thought. From the Kantian view, it follows that sense cannot be made of the idea of disagreeing with a principle of logic: illogical thought is not, properly speaking, thought at all. In this paper I focus on Conant’s reading of Frege. According to Conant, Frege’s commitment to the Kantian view of logic reveals itself in Frege’s attack on psychologism in the Preface to Grundgesetze der Arithmetik. If Conant is right in ascribing the Kantian view of logic to Frege, then there is a conflict in Frege’s conception of logic. The reason for this is that it is difficult to see how logical laws can have the status of being substantive truths about the world unless their falsity can be entertained. The aim of this paper is twofold: In the first part, I explain what the Kantian view of logic amounts to and argues that it is reasonable to ascribe the Kantian view to Kant himself. In the second part, I argue that Frege’s polemic against «die psychologischen Logiker» in Grundgesetze does not commit Frege to the Kantian view of logic and therefore that Conant’s reading of Frege is a misreading.
I first argue that Frege started out with a conception of logic that is closer to Kant’s than is generally recognized, after which I analyze Frege’s reasons for gradually rejecting this view. Although conceding that the demands posed by Frege’s logicism played some role, I argue that his increasingly vehement anti-psychologism provides a deeper and more interesting reason for rejecting his earlier view.
The starting point for my discussion is the passage from Augustine’s Confessions that forms the beginning of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. Augustine’s recollection of how he learned to speak as a small child is juxtaposed with Frege’s answer to a question he poses in the midst of a discussion of problems that adhere to functions and signs that designate them: How does a child learn to understand grown-ups? I argue that the comparisons implied in Frege’s answer are meant to show that the passageway into a language cannot be theoretical in character. Frege argues that leading someone into a language requires «entgegenkommendes Verständnis». I point at difficulties that adhere to the translation of this expression to the English idiom «a meeting of minds», and go on to suggest a correspondence between our communication in language in everyday life, as Frege depicts it, and the means he uses for elucidatory purposes. The comparison shows, I argue, that when Frege uses the expression «entgegenkommendes Verständnis» as a presupposition for language acquisition, he speaks of understanding as it is found in our everyday communication in language. My paper ends with a discussion of a possible parallel between Wittgenstein’s conception of ‘agreement in judgments’ and Frege’s conception of ‘entgegenkommendes Verständnis’. A comparison between Frege’s approach to, and conception of philosophical difficulties and Wittgenstein’s investigations of such difficulties in Philosophical Investigations forms a background for my discussion as a whole.
Frege’s method for forming logical proper names that mean individual numbers in Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik is contextualized within the framework of his contemporary mathematics. Originally, Frege thought that the numbers could be constructed by way of contextual definitions, but due to the so-called Julius Caesar problem, he had to invoke extensions or courses-of-values. This move away from construing names directly from given concepts, had the consequence that it became difficult to find persuasive arguments in favour of the claim that arithmetic is an analytic science and not a synthetic a priori one, as is geometry. It is maintained, among other things, that Frege introduced his celebrated distinction between sense [Sinn] and meaning [ Bedeutung] due to reflections on the epistemic status of arithmetic. Frege’s well-known doubts about Basic law V is said to concern this question and not its truth-value. The originality of the article consists mainly in the internal connections seen in Frege’s work and the way his philosophical writings are related to the grand project of determining the status of arithmetic.
We offer a further exploration of some themes from Neil Gascoigne’s interesting book Scepticism from 2002. Gascoigne presents a taxonomy of responses to two classical, skeptical arguments: the argument from ignorance, and Agrippa’s trilemma. One class of response is termed skeptical. Skeptical arguments seek to avoid conclusions by attacking the attainability or coherence of a certain kind of knowledge to which we seem to aspire – what Gascoigne calls philosophical knowledge (p-knowledge). The challenge facing such responses is to show how this can be done without inviting new skeptical problems or the same ones at new levels. We discuss three examples of what Gascoigne presents as at least partially successful responses to: Ancient skepticism centering on the thoughts of Carneades; classical modern philosophy centering on Hume’s naturalism; and contemporary philosophy that focuses on Davidson’s argument against skepticism from the veridical nature of belief.
Hubert Dreyfus’ various analyses of the nature of practical, intelligent action remain of central importance for anyone interested in this issue. Originally inspired by thinkers of the phenomenological tradition – especially Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty – Dreyfus brought their insights to bear in offering a devastating critique of the cognitivist prejudice in accounts of the nature of mind. However, while acknowledging the important contribution of Dreyfus to the philosophy of practical intelligence, the following article will argue that: (1) while initially following the phenomenologists in offering an ontology that goes beyond the dualism of the mental and the physical as separate, he falls back into this dualism in his characterization of expertise as ‘mindless, subjectless coping’ and his all too narrow use of the notion of reflection; and (2) that his examples of practical intelligence are too limited to provide the more comprehensive account of the phenomenon of practical knowledge that he is aiming for.
We aim to formulate a theory according to which an intentional attitude may have a definite object which however need not be real in any sense. We take as our starting point the view according to which intentional attitudes involve relations between existent and possibly non-existent objects. This position is not only counterintuitive in attributing reality to non-existent things, but it is also of limited applicability, as often intentional attitudes have general propositions for their content. We proceed to discuss Hintikka’s theory which analyzes attitudes via the notion of context (scenario, possible world) compatible with the attitude. On this view, the propositional content of an attitude may concern any objects or object types without thereby being committed to the actual existence of such objects; their existence only needs to be compatible with the attitude. The question remains what logical resources are needed in order to express that an agent’s attitude is definite but need not actually exist. In particular the de dicto reading of ‘Jacob belives that a witch is looking for Isac’ does not preclude distinct witches in distinct scenarios. We show that by notationally distinguishing syntactic subordination and semantic dependence, the desired sorts of de objecto attitudes become expressible.