This thought is singular with respect to bismarck, having as its content the singular proposition Bismarck unified Germany. But if a person who knew Bismarck made a judgment about him, the case is different. What this person was acquainted with were certain sense data which he connected (rightly, we will suppose) with Bismarck's body (114). No human but Bismarck, then, can grasp this singular proposition. Someone that has perceived Bismarck, say, wilhelm ii, has a thought with the following form, where bob is the sense datum the agent has in virtue of his perception of Bismarck. the x : x has a body that is the cause of bob x unified Germany this proposition is particularized with respect to bismarck, but direct and thus singular only with respect to the occurrent sense datum being demonstratively referred. Finally, contrast this judgment with someone who has never perceived Bismarck but has only heard about him indirectly. Such agents cannot relate bismarck directly to their sense data because, unlike wilhelm, none of their sense data are caused by bismarck's body.
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(For further discussion, see propositional attitude reports.) Either way, however, given that misidentification of extra-mental particulars is obviously possible, the permissive theory of acquaintance requires denying the claim that all cases of misidentification involve differences in thought read constituents. We have seen how Russell's adherence to the Acquaintance Principle together with his adoption of a fregean attitude towards misidentification led him to deny that we can think directly about extra-mental particulars. Russell admitted that there is an extra-mental reality filled with extra-mental particulars that we can and do think about. Like frege, all such thought, russell insisted, is indirect. But Russell did not follow Frege in introducing senses as the mediators between individuals and our thought about them. Rather, russell appealed to logical analysis through his theory of descriptions. For Russell, all thought about extra-mental particulars is descriptive. In (1910 the canonical form such thought took is the following: The thing that caused this demonstratively referring to one's occurrent sense datum is such-and-such, which is singular with respect to the sense datum demonstrated. We can work up to this by seeing how Russell contrasted three thoughts about Bismarck to the effect that he unified Germany (1910, 11417). First, assuming acquaintance with the self, there is Bismarck's own thought about himself.
This line of reasoning relies on the Fregean claim that identity confusions are to be explained in terms of differences in thought constituents. Our English student's confusion regarding Mark Twain is thus to be explained in terms of different thoughts and statement hence different thought constituents corresponding to the different ways of thinking about the man Mark Twain associated with the expressions Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens. This — that cases of misidentification always involve differences in thought contents — marks an important point of agreement between Frege and Russell. Neo-russellians are more permissive about the objects of acquaintance, including extra-mental particulars in this class. David Kaplan's pioneering work (1977/1989) is typically the starting point, although Russell himself started out with such a position, maintaining, for example, that Mont Blanc itself is a constituent of the thought that Mont Blanc has snowfields. Neo-russellians must deny the Fregean claim that whenever misidentification is rationally possible, there is a difference in thought constituents. They might still agree with Fregean intuitions about the truth and falsity of propositional attitude ascribing sentences — agreeing, for example, that Peter believes that Mark Twain was a famous American author is true while peter believes that Samuel Clemens was a famous American author. Such neo-russellians claim that the truth or falsity of a belief attitude ascribing sentence involves more than just the agent of the report having among her beliefs the proposition expressed by the sentence embedded in the reporting sentence. Alternatively, the neo-russellian might deny the Fregean intuitions about the truth and falsity of propositional attitude ascribing sentences, following, for example, nathan Salmon (1986) in accounting for those intuitions in nonsemantic terms.
We focus here on the russell roughly from.) First, russell held an acquaintance-based theory, according to which some thought about individuals is direct, in the sense of involving singular propositions involving those very individuals. Second, whereas Frege introduced senses to help solve the puzzles discussed above, russell employed logical analysis and his theory of definite descriptions. We take each point in turn. Russell maintained that an agent must be acquainted with every constituent of a thought that she is in a position to entertain. Call this the Acquaintance Principle. (The principle makes an appearance in (1905 but the view behind the principle is worked out in (1910) and (1912).) Russell thought that we are acquainted only with our occurrent sense data and universals (and he sometimes included the self, when he wasn't feeling skeptical. So, russell maintained that the only singular propositions we can grasp are ones with those items as constituents. We can trace the fundamental source of Russell's restrictivism about acquaintance to the claim that one is acquainted only with that for which misidentification is rationally impossible. If it is possible for one to be presented with o twice over and rationally not realize it as the same object, then one is not acquainted with o ; one's thoughts about o are, in that case, indirect.
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But they also played several other roles as well: They are the primary bearers of truth values, the indirect references work of sentences and hence the objects denoted by that clauses like that Frege denied the existence of singular propositions, and the objects of propositional attitudes. These roles give rise to the following theses concerning the individuation of senses. Truth If two sentences have different truth values, then they have different senses. Accept report For any pair of sentences, s1 and s2, if a competent speaker can rationally, reflectively, and sincerely accept s1 while rejecting s2, then s1 and s2 have different senses. Attitude for any pair of sentences, s1 and s2, and propositional attitude verb V s, if the truth of a v s that s1 is consistent with the falsity of a v s that s2, then s1 and s2 have different senses.
Frege's case for the sense-reference distinction is also a case that singular propositions are not the semantic contents of natural language sentences and are not the objects of the propositional attitudes. Singular propositions are too coarse-grained to account for what a competent speaker understands in virtue of grasping the meaning of a sentence. But the content of a sentence is, intuitively, what an agent grasps when she understands a sentence and what she believes when she accepts. Frege concluded that singular propositions are ill-suited for the purposes of semantics and psychology, as they lead to violations of Accept and Attitude. (For further discussion, see the entry Frege.) Bertrand Russell 's views of language and thought are importantly different from Frege's. (Russell held many distinct views.
Frege argued for the distinctness of sense from reference as follows. Suppose, for reductio, that the sole semantic value of the name mark Twain were its reference. Then, as the name samuel Clemens is coreferential, the two names would be identical in their semantic values. Given a plausible assumption of compositionality, the sentences Mark Twain was a famous American author and Samuel Clemens was a famous American author would then express the same proposition. But that is counterintuitive. It seems that fully competent speakers can believe what the one expresses without believing what the other expresses.
(Imagine our agent had an American literature class, having read Huck finn and Tom Sawyer, in which biographical facts were withheld. She will accept the first sentence and reject the second.) If this is so, then the two sentences express different propositions. And if they express different propositions, there must be some semantically relevant difference between the names Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens. As their references do not differ, sense is distinct from reference. An expression's sense is intended to capture its cognitive value. The above argument is intended to show that coreferential proper names can present the same object in different ways and it can be a cognitive achievement to come to learn that the object presented in those different ways is one and the same. Reference alone, frege persuasively argued, cannot capture cognitive value. Capturing the cognitive significance of an expression is a primary role senses played in Frege's system.
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The hope is that the discussion will provide a clearer understanding of the views outlined above. Gottlob Frege famously distinguished between an expression's reference and its sense. (The classic source is Frege 1892/1948. The distinction was first introduced a year earlier in (1891). It is commonly thought, and Frege asserts as much, that the sense-reference distinction was not short present in (1879/1967). But this early work does contain a seeming anticipation of the distinction, as well as the same argument from the opening paragraphs of (1892/1948) against the metalinguistic solution promoted in (1879/1967 which is extremely puzzling. We don't try to resolve the interpretative issues here.) we focus on proper names, although Frege maintained that the sense-reference distinction applied to all expressions, including sentences, where the reference of a sentence is a truth value and its sense a thought. The reference of the name mark Twain is the man Mark Twain himself, while its sense is a mode of presentation or way of thinking of that object.
above. The supplementary document, evans on Frege contains further discussion.) The easiest way to get a grip on this is to think of senses as purely qualitative satisfaction conditions. Such a condition determines an object in virtue of the qualities it instantiates. According to russellianism, on the other hand, we can think about an individual directly; we can have a thought about an individual by having that individual as an immediate constituent of the thought. On the standard interpretation of Frege, individuals are not constituents of propositions. Propositions are composed of senses, not individuals, and senses are individuated independently of any individual. If Fregeanism is true, there are no singular propositions. If Russellianism is true, then singular propositions play a crucial role in semantics and any complete theory of thought. Before discussing the reasons for and against singular propositions, we begin with a brief discussion of the views of the historical Frege and Russell.
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