The Logical Significance of Assertion: Frege on the Essence of Logic


  • Walter B. Pedriali University of St Andrews



Assertion plays a crucial dual role in Frege's conception of logic, a formal and a transcendental one. A recurrent complaint is that Frege's inclusion of the judgement-stroke (the formal counterpart of assertion) in the Begriffsschrift is either in tension with his anti-psychologism or wholly superfluous. Assertion, the objection goes, is at best of merely psychological significance. In this paper, I defend Frege against the objection by giving reasons for recognising the central logical significance of assertion in both its formal and its transcendental role.

Author Biography

Walter B. Pedriali, University of St Andrews



The following abbreviations are used to refer to Frege’s works. Page numbering is to the German editions first:

BS: Begriffsschrift, eine der arithmetischen nachgebildete Formelsprache des reinen Denkens. Halle: L. Nebert, 1879. Translated as Conceptual Notation and Related Articles, edited by T. W. Bynum. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972.

GL: Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik. Breslau: W. Koebner, 1884. Translated as The Foundations of Arithmetic, translated by J. L. Austin. Oxford: Blackwell, 1953.

GG: Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, 2 vols., Jena: H. Pohle, 1893 and 1902. Translated as Frege (1893/2013).

BW: Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel Hamburg: Verlag, 1976. Translated as Philosophical and Mathematical Correspondence, translated by H. Kaal. Oxford: Blackwell, 1980.

NS: Nachgelassene Schriften. Hamburg: Verlag, 1983. Translated as Posthumous Writings, translated by Peter Long and Roger White. Oxford: Blackwell, 1979.

KS: Kleine Schriften. Hildesheim: Verlag, 2011. Translated as Collected Papers on Mathematics, Logic, and Philosophy, edited by B. McGuinness. Oxford: Blackwell, 1980.

Other abbreviations:

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NB: Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Notebooks 1914–1916, edited by G. H. von Wright and G. E. M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell, 1961.

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