The Propositional Logic of Frege’s Grundgesetze: Semantics and Expressiveness

Eric D. Berg, Roy T. Cook


In this paper we compare the propositional logic of Frege’s Grundgesetze der Arithmetik to modern propositional systems, and show that Frege does not have a separable propositional logic, definable in terms of primitives of Grundgesetze, that corresponds to modern formulations of the logic of “not”, “and”, “or”, and “if…then…”. Along the way we prove a number of novel results about the system of propositional logic found in Grundgesetze, and the broader system obtained by including identity. In particular, we show that the propositional connectives that are definable in terms of Frege’s horizontal, negation, and conditional are exactly the connectives that fuse with the horizontal, and we show that the logical operators that are definable in terms of the horizontal, negation, the conditional, and identity are exactly the operators that are invariant with respect to permutations on the domain that leave the truth-values fixed. We conclude with some general observations regarding how Frege understood his logic, and how this understanding differs from modern views.

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Eric D. Berg
University of Chicago


Roy T. Cook
University of Minnesota