Dummett and Frege on sense and Selbständigkeit

Por • 11 oct, 2020 • Sección: Opinion

Stephen K. McLeod

Abstract: As part of his attack on Frege’s ‘myth’ that senses reside in the third realm, Dummett alleges that Frege’s view that all objects are selbständig (‘self-subsistent’, ‘independent’) is an underlying mistake, since some objects depend upon others. Whatever the merits of Dummett’s other arguments against Frege’s conception of sense, this objection fails. First, Frege’s view that senses are third-realm entities is not traceable to his view that all objects are selbständig. Second, while Frege recognizes that there are objects that are dependent upon other objects, he does not take this to compromise the Selbständigkeit of any objects. Thus, Frege’s doctrine that objects are selbständig does not make the claim of absolute independence that Dummett appears to have taken it to make. Nevertheless, in order to make a good case against Frege based on the dependency of senses, Dummett need only establish his claim that senses depend upon expressions: appeal to an absolute conception of independence is unnecessary. However, Dummett’s arguments for the dependency of senses upon expressions are unsuccessful and they show that Dummett’s conc eption of what it is to be an expression also differs significantly from Frege’s.


KEYWORDS: Expressionslogical independenceobjectsontological independencesenses

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 

Volume 25, 2017 – Issue 2

Pages 309-331 | Received 05 Nov 2015, Accepted 26 Aug 2016, Published online: 06 Oct 2016


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