Frege’s Performative Argument Against Truth Relativism
AbstractThe purpose of this paper is to reconstruct Frege’s argument against the relativity of truth contained in his posthumous writing Logic from 1897. Two points are made. The first is that the argument is a performative version of the common objection that truth relativism is incoherent: it is designed to show that the assertion of the relativity of truth involves a performative incoherence, because the absoluteness of truth is a success condition for making assertions. From a modern point of view, the central premise of the argument, that the successful making of assertions depends on the absoluteness of truth, is highly doubtful. The second point is that this premise can be made plausible within the framework of Frege’s conception of truth and assertion: it can be derived from his thesis that, in order to put something forward as true, we do not need the word ‘true’, but only the assertoric force.
Burge, Tyler. 1986. “Frege on Truth”, in: Frege Synthesized, ed. by L. Haaparanta and J. Hintikka, Dordrecht, Boston: Reidel, 1986.
Frege, Gottlob. 1879. Begriffsschrift, eine der arithmetischen nachgebildete Formelsprache des reinen Denkens, reprinted in his Begriffsschrift und andere Aufsätze, Hildesheim: Olms, second edition, 1988, pp. V–88. Originally published by Louis Nebert in Halle. A selection is translated as “Begriffsschrift (1879): Selections (Preface and Part I)” in Frege 1997, pp. 47-78.
Frege, Gottlob. 1891. Funktion und Begriff, Jena: Hermann Pohle: Reprinted in: Frege 1990, pp. 125–42. Translated as “Function and Concept” in Frege 1997, pp. 130-48.
Frege, Gottlob. 1892. “Über Sinn und Bedeutung”. Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, 100, pp. 25-50. Reprinted in: Frege 1990, pp. 143–62. Translated as “On Sinn and Bedeutung” in Frege 1997, pp. 151-71.
Frege, Gottlob. 1893. Grundgesetze der Arithmetik. Begriffsschriftlich abgeleitet, Vol. 1. Jena: Hermann Pohle. Reprint: Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, ²1962. A selection is translated as “Grundgesetze de Arithmetik, Volume I, Selections” in Frege 1997, pp. 194-233.
Frege, Gottlob. 1897. “Logik”. Posthumous writing, in: Frege 1983, pp. 137–63. An extract is translated as “Logic: Extract” in Frege 1997, pp. 227-50.
Frege, Gottlob. 1914. “Logik in der Mathematik”. Posthumous writing, in: Frege 1983, pp. 219–70. An extract is translated as “Logic in Mathematics: Extract” in Frege 1997, pp. 308-18.
Frege, Gottlob. 1915. “Meine grundlegenden logischen Einsichten“. Posthumous writing, in: Frege 1983, pp. 271–2. Tranlated as “My Basic Logical Insights” in Frege 1997, pp. 322-24.
Frege, Gottlob. 1918. “Der Gedanke. Eine logische Untersuchung”. Beiträge zur Philosophie des deutschen Idealismus, 1, pp. 58-77. Reprinted in: Frege 1990, pp. 342–62. Translated as “Thought” in Frege 1997, pp. 325-45.
Frege, Gottlob. 1976. Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel. Ed. by G. Gabriel, H. Hermes, F. Kambartel, Ch. Thiel and A. Verhaart, Hamburg: Meiner.
Frege, Gottlob. 1979. Posthumous Writings. Ed. by H. Hermes, F. Kambartel and F. Kaulbach, and translated by P. Long and R. White, Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Engl. trans. of the first edition of Frege, Nachgelassene Schriften und Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel, Band 1, ed. by H. Hermes, F. Kambartel and F. Kaulbach, Hamburg: Meiner, 1969.
Frege, Gottlob. 1983. Nachgelassene Schriften und Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel, Vol. 1. Ed. by H. Hermes, F. Kambartel and F. Kaulbach, Hamburg: Meiner, second and extended edition (first published in 1969). Translated as Posthumous Writings in Frege 1979.
Frege, Gottlob. 1990. Kleine Schriften. Ed. by I. Angelelli, second edition, Hildesheim: Olms.
Frege, Gottlob, 1997, The Frege Reader. Ed. and introduced by Michael Beaney, Oxford: Blackwell.
García-Carpintero, Manuel, Kölbel, Max (eds.). 2008. Relative Truth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hales, Steven. 1997. “A Consistent Relativism”, Mind 106, pp. 33–52.
Künne, Wolfgang 2008. “Frege On Truths, Truths and the True”, Studia Philosophica Estonica 1, pp. 5-42.
Quine, Willard Van Orman. 1960. Word and Object. Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press.
Rosenkranz. Sven, 2008. “Frege, Relativism and Faultless Disagreement”, in: García-Carpintero, Manuel, Kölbel, Max (eds.) 2008, pp. 225-37.
Taschek, William. 2008. “Truth, Assertion, and the Horizontal: Frege on ‘The Essence of Logic’”, Mind 117, pp. 375-401.
Textor, Mark. 2010. “Frege on Judging as Acknowledging the Truth”, Mind 119, pp. 615-655.
Vanderveken, Daniel. 1980. “Illocutionary Logic and Self-Defeating Speech Acts”, in: Speech Act Theory and Pragmatics, ed. by J. Searle, F. Kiefer and M. Bierwisch, Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1980, pp. 247-272.
Weiner, Joan. 2005. “Semantic Descent”, Mind 114, pp. 321–53.
The Public Knowledge Project recommends the use of the Creative Commons license. The Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy requires authors to agree to a Creative Commons Attribution /Non-commercial license. Authors who publish with the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC license.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.