Blackburn-Code on Russell's Crit of Frege in On Denote.pdf

Blackburn-Code on Russell's Crit of Frege in On Denote.pdf...

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Unformatted text preview: !"#$%&'#($&)$*+,,#--.,$/(01020,3$&)$4(#5#6$.78$9#8&1085.$::;$<=>[email protected] A+1"&(B,C6$D03&8$E-F2GH+(8$F8I$A-F8$/&I# D&+(2#6$A8F-J,0,K$L&-;$M=K$N&;$O$BPF(;K$QRS=CK$::;$T?>SS %+H-0,"#I$HJ6$7U)&(I$V80W#(,01J$%(#,,$&8$H#"F-)$&)$!"#$A8F-J,0,$/&33011## D1FH-#$V*X6$ . A22#,,#[email protected]@Q<$Q<6OT Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] . Oxford University Press and The Analysis Committee are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Analysis. This content downloaded from on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:26:02 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions MARCH 1978 ANALYSIS 38.2 ANALYSIS "PROBLEM"NO. 17 THE seventeenth problem is set by Professor G. E. Hughes of the Victoria University of Wellington, and is as follows: Can I ever, by my subsequentactions,bring it about that something I did on a previousoccasionwas donefroma certainmotiveratherthan fromsomeotherone? The word limit is 6oo words. Entries should reach the Editor of ANALYSIS by 3' August 1978; they should not be sent to Professor Hughes. Entries will not be acknowledged or returnedunless accompanied by stamps or internationalpostage coupons. Contributorsmay submit entries under their own names or a pseudonym. Contributors must be underthe age of thirty, or undergraduatesor graduatestudents. A report with any winning entries will be published in volume 39 of ANALYSIS.The ANALYSIS Committee has voted a sum of ?4o which will be awarded as a prize if Professor Hughes finds a sufficiently deserving contribution. The report on Problem No. i6 will appearin the next issue. THE POWEROF RUSSELL'SCRITICISMOF FREGE: 'ON DENOTING' pp. 48-50 By SIMONBLACKBURN and ALAN CODE i. SETTING the Scene. In 1905 Russell first published, in 'On Denoting', the theory of descriptions.He was conscious at the time that the theory made a profound break from its predecessors,the theories of Meinong, of Frege, and of his own work of two years earlier. Thus he included in his articlea discussionof the weaknessesof those theories.His readershave had no difficultyin understandingjust what his criticismsof the Meinongian theoryare-indeed for a very long time it was generallyconceded that he had successfullyunderminedit. His criticismsof Frege, and of his own earliertheory which he regardedas similar,were not blessed with such a fortunate reception. To the best of our belief only one author, A. J. Ayer, apartfrom Russell himself, has ever acknowledged in print that Russellhad an argumentwhich seriouslythreatenedFrege's view. It is usually held that either he had no argumentat all againstany previous theory, becausehe was hopelessly muddled, or that at best he 65 This content downloaded from on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:26:02 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 66 ANALYSIS had succeeded in undoing his previous view, expounded in The Prin[io], but totally failed to engage Frege. Dummett ciplesof Mathematics thinks that Russell does, in a confusedfashion, manageto make a minor point which Frege can easily evade. These assessmentsare quite wrong. We do not say, on this occasion, that Russell had a decisive, or overwhelming, objectionto Frege. But we do say that he presenteda serious argument and even "considerations capable of determining the intellect" against Frege's theory. To prove this we offer a rational reconstructionof the trainof thought found in pp. 48-50 of 'On Denotedited by Robert ing', as numberedin the collection LogicandKnowledge, Marsh[9].For conveniencewe shall letter the relevant eight paragraphs by the italic capitals (A) to (H), and refer to them in this way. (A) begins at the bottom of p. 48 (The relation of the meaning to .. .) and (H) at the bottom of p. o50(That the meaning .. .). The issues are bedevilled by problems of terminology. We shall call both proper names and definite descriptions 'denoting phrases'. These are the things which are in dispute. We shall talk of them having a 'sense' and a 'reference'. The reference of the word 'Aristotle' is Aristotle, and the word refers to Aristotle. The sense of the word is supposed to be a third entity. It is not Aristotle, nor is it the word 'Aristotle',but insteadis some entity associatedwith the word 'wherein the mode of presentationis contained' [6] p. 57. Part of Russell's point will be the difficultyof referringto such a thing, so we must be pardoned for sayingno more about it. We shall call the view that denoting phrases have usuallyboth sense and referencethe three-entityview, for obvious reasons. We also need a way of describing the relationshipsthat hold between these three things. We shall say that a word 'refers to' its referenceand 'expresses'its sense. If a sense relatesto a thing in such a way that a word which expressesit refersto that thing, or in such a way that a word which were to expressit would refer to that thing, we shall say that the sense 'determines'the thing. Of course furthertheses about all these things would be needed to describefully anyone's theory, but for the presentwe merelyintroduce the terminology. z. Previous Interpretations. As we stand nearly alone in our insistence that Russell was at least in the right ball-park,we would like to say a few words about the more usual views. Church [41 P. 302, and Butler [z] pp. 361-363 hold that Russell's attemptto refuteFregeis vitiatedby his (characteristic)failureto observe the use/mention distinction. On this view, once some consistent use is made of perspicuousnotational devices distinguishing talk of expressions from talk of senses of expressions, and both from talk of references of expressions, then the alleged argument vanishes. Now Cassin [z] This content downloaded from on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:26:02 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions RUSSELL'S CRITICISM OF FREGE 67 Russellif Church p. 269, hasshownthatthereis no wayof interpreting While andButlerareright.And on the faceof it the viewis implausible. it is undeniablethatRussellis quitecarelessin his notation,he wasvery sensitiveto the underlyingpoint,which,indeed,functionscentrallyin his own argument.Paragraph(D) is mainlydevotedto explainingit. SinceRussellgave up his own earlierpositionbecauseof the present argument,Churchand Butler put him in the following ridiculous position.Thereis an argumentwhichpurportsto refuteRussell'sold view, and which emphasizesand explainsthe use/mentiondistinction. oncethis distinctionis made.Nevertheless But the argumentdisappears Russellfeels forcedto abandonhis old view. Clearlywe shouldnot acceptthisexegesisunlessabsolutelyno otheris forthcoming:it offends againstthe cardinalprincipleof Russellianexposition,to wit: don't makehim out a completefool if you canhelpit. Morecommonis the view thatRusselldid have somesortof argumentgoing,onlyit bearson his earlierposition,not on Frege,who only gets draggedin becauseof Russell'snotoriousinabilityto readproperly. This is the view expressedin Geach[7]. As he thereputs it: "readers of 'On Denoting'will find it best simplyto ignorehis use of Frege's name".To approachthis we must have some idea of how the two theoriesdiffer--Geachdoesnot tell us whichfeatureof Russell'searlier theoryrendersit, but not Frege,a possibletargetfor "OnDenoting". There are two important differences between the theory of The (whichwe referto as PoM) and Frege. The of Mathematics Principles first, however, turns out to be basicallyterminological,and the second cannot possibly matter to Russell's argument. The first is that for Russell it is concepts which denote, so that it is the denoting concept meant by a definite descriptionwhich denotes the thing referredto, or denotation. On Frege's theory it is the definite descriptionitself-the actual expression-which refers to the reference.Thus we cannot have all of: sense=meaning; reference= denotation; referring= denoting; for this does not map Russell's theory onto Frege's. In Frege one kind of thing (an expression)refers, and in Russell a differentkind of thing (a concept) denotes. But this is trivialby itself, since, if there is a relation which obtains between the meaning of the description and the denotation, we can define in terms of it another relationholding between the description itself (the words) and the denotation of its associated meaning. And likewise if there is a relation which obtains between a word, or group of words, and its reference,we may define in terms of that relation another one holding between the sense of the expression and that reference. Using our triangle of terms we can introduce 'referring'once we have 'expressing'and 'determining',or we canintroduce 'determining' once we have 'expressing' and 'referring'. The former order of definition, Russell's, seems preferable, since in Russell and Frege This content downloaded from on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:26:02 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 68 ANALYSIS a word has the referenceit does as a consequence of having a certain sense, and of this sense determining a certain thing. This point is importantto Russelllater,as we shall see in section 3, but for the present it is clearthatthe differenceof terminologymarksno respectin which his own theory is less acceptablethan Frege's. The second differenceis that for Frege the sense/referencedoctrine applies to every singular term, whereas at the time of PoM Russell applied his analysis (into denoting concept/object indicated) only to definite descriptions, and not to ordinary names. Russell explicitly notes this differencein Appendix A of PoM ? 476. If this feature made him vulnerable rather than Frege, it could only be because in 'On Denoting' he is arguing that the three-entityanalysisis so excellentthat it must be appliedright acrossthe board.In fact, of course,his laterview is that it should not be applied to anything, and therefore engulfs Frege as well as his own more limited thesis. So although there are these two respects in which the Russell of PoM differsfrom Frege, neitherof them representsa weaknesswhich he is later regretting,and it is not possible that 'On Denoting' refutes the former but not the latter. Authors have not failed to invent featuresof Russell's earlierview, so that his argumentcan be seen as relevantto them, but not to Frege. Cassin,who believes that Russell did not even intend to attack Frege, holds that it was part of his earlierview (but not part of Frege's) that 'only terms could be denoted' but now Russell has come to realizethat denoting concepts themselves must be denoted [2] p. 269. This is just which can be wrong about the earlierview. A term, in PoM, is anything an a or a or of the subjectof proposition, logical subject object thought, and both things andconcepts are terms 48). Appendix B, ? 483 47) (? (? criticizes Frege precisely for his difficulty over making concepts into logical subjects.And in ? 476 Russell says: If oneallows,asI do, thatconceptscanbe objectsandhavepropernames, it seemsfairlyevidentthat theirpropernames,as a rule, will indicate [i.e. referto] themwithouthavingany distinctmeaning[i.e. sense];but the oppositeview, thoughit leadsto an endlessregress,does not appear to be logicallyimpossible. The opposite view would have a higher order sense for any denoting phrasereferringto a given concept. In Russell'sterminologythis would mean that when a definite descriptionindicates a denoting concept, it itself has as its meaning another denoting concept which itself denotes (i.e. determines)the first. This is not a possibility he rejects. And if he hadrejectedit in PoMit would have been a simplematterto change his mind without modifying his earlierview in any other way: argument which shows that he shouldn't reject it would leave the three-entity view quite intact. This content downloaded from on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:26:02 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions RUSSELL'S CRITICISM OF FREGE 69 Cassin (p. 270) also claims that there is another bad feature of the old view. Let us introduce the following abbreviations: C1=some denoting conceptwhich denotes (i.e. determines)Aristotle C2=some denoting concept which denotes (i.e. determines)C1 According to Cassinit was part of Russell's old view that: (A) any proposition containing C, as a constituent will be about Aristotle We wanted it to be about C1, but the concept Cq, since it determines Aristotle, makes the original attempt at denotation "fall through" to Aristotle anyway. It follows that it is impossible to refer to denoting concepts by means of expressions which have higher order denoting concepts as their sense, or in other words it is impossible to refer to them by descriptions, since such attempts fall through to the original object, in this case Aristotle. It would follow that denoting concepts of any level could at best be referredto by names,and this the laterRussell might be finding objectionable.Searle [12] sees the argumentin essentially the same way, only he regards (A) not so much as a feature of Russell's early view, but merely as a consequenceof the conjunctionof Frege's theory with its negation, which is all, according to him, that Russell succeededin attacking. There are two major problems with this view. Firstly (A) is not stated in PoM. Nor have we found any passage into which it could possibly be read. Secondly,had Russell surreptitiouslyheld (A) he could hardlyhave failed to notice its effecton the regressof denoting concepts. Yet the passagewe have quoted shows that at that time, when explicitly discussing Frege, he thought the regress quite possible. So to interpret Russell this way we have to suppose that he held a view which he never stated, in spite of the thoroughness of PoM, but was unfortunately incapableof drawingits most elementaryconsequences.It is but a short way from here to the theory of Jager [6], who holds that Russellwas refutinga strawmanespeciallydevelopedto be refutedin 'On Denoting'. All these expositions offend against our cardinalprincipleof Russellian exegesis. Clearly none of them would appear plausible but for the difficulty of finding a sensible argument in 'On Denoting', against either Frege or PoM. So if we can present such a thing, they may be thankfullyabandoned. The same stricturesdo not apply to A. J. Ayer [i], who believes Russell to have a valid argumentagainstFrege. Ayer correctlyidentifies the force of Russell's conclusion-that there is going to be a mystery about identifying senses and their relationsto correspondingreferences -but not Russell's argumentfor that conclusion. In Ayer's exposition (p. 31i) Russell is represented as demanding that 'the first line of Gray's Elegy' and 'the meaning of "the first line of Gray's Elegy"' should have different meanings (senses) but the same denotation (reference). This This content downloaded from on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:26:02 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 70 ANALYSIS would of course be quite inadmissible for Frege: it is in fact just the demand that sense and reference be identified. But Russell's only reason for making that demand, on Ayer's account, amounts to complaining that otherwisethere will be a mysteryabout what the meaning, or sense, is. This may be Russell'sview, but then we still await an argument for it. We think instead that Russell had a powerful and precise argumentfor supposing that Frege is doomed to ineradicablemystery, and it is to the presentationof this that we now turn. 3. The argument. We do not want to discusstediouslyall of the terminologicaloptions which paragraph(B) opens. We do not have to, since the point is to find a sensible readingon which there is a good argumentin the offing, not myriads of readings on which there is not. Denoting phrases are of course the expressionsfor which the theory has to work. Their meaning Russell calls a denoting complex. This marks a departurefrom PoM where he would have calledit a denoting concept. It correspondsto the Fregeansense.The thing denoted Russell calls the denotation.Denoting, as before, is what we have called determining;it is the relationbetween the senseandthe reference(i.e., the denotingcomplexand the denotation). Expressions,in this terminology, do not denote. Russell is using single quotes, here at any rate, in orderto give expressionswhich themselves referto senses, or denoting complexes.The relationshipwhich he wants us to consider at the end of (B) is that between sense and the reference which it determines-i.e., determining. His claim in (C) is that if an expression has a separate sense in addition to its reference,then,fatally, there will be no guaranteethat there is a logical relation between the two. Or, in Russell's words, '. .. we cannot succeed in bothpreserving the connexion of meaning and denotation and preventing them from being one and the same'. It is the businessof (D)--(F) to show this, and the businessof (G)--(H) to show how the truth of this conditionalwould renderFrege's theory worthless. The point to be demonstratedis not that there is a difficulty involved in the idea that a sense may itself be an object of reference,but ratherthat there is a difficultyinvolved in specifying one in such a way as to allow us to show that it performsa certainlogical role. Let's see how he does this. The firstimportantthing that he says about the determiningrelation is thatit cannotbe 'merelylinguisticthroughthe phrase'.Whathe means is that determiningcannot be explainedby Frege in terms of expressing and referring.To understandthis, we must remembera little of Frege's theory. In Frege sense is a theoreticalentity, and it is postulated that denoting phrasescome to referto theirnormalsenseswhen such phrases are embedded in psychological contexts. This, as is well-known, is to This content downloaded from on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:26:02 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions RUSSELL'S CRITICISM OF FREGE 71 explainhow it is possible that 'George IV wished to know whether Scott is the author of Waverley', and 'George IV wished to know whether Scott is Scott' should have different truth-values. Russell finds this explanationunsatisfactory.As pointed out above, this is not because of any pure difficultyabout referringto senses. It is ratherbecausein the absenceof a theoreticaldefinitionof termspurportingto referto senses, we cannot be sure what logical role sense plays. And Russell wants to show that there is simply no way to specify senses so as to be sure that they play the role Frege demands. To highlight this aspect of our interpretation,we would like to mention once again that in (C) the difficultyis over ensuringa certainconnexion, and also point out that in (G) it is failureof explanation,residualmystery,inextricabletangle, that are said to menaceFrege. The Russell of PoM was quite content to take in the notion of a denoting concept (and likewise, Fregean sense) without requiring a carefultheoreticalintroduction.Phrasesreferringto denoting concepts were simply taken as indefinable.But as the recalcitranceof the Russell paradoxbecameapparent,he realizedthat inside even the most innocent theoreticalconstructionsthere might lurk fatal problems.Laterwe shall see that he also had good reasonfor a change of hearttowardsdenoting concepts. A specificationof sense which does not guaranteeits logical role would be to sayjust 'in orderto speakof the sense of an expression"A" ...
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  • Fall '14
  • Arindram Chakrabarti
  • Philosophy, Philosophy of language, Bertrand Russell, Gottlob Frege, Sense and reference

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