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Blanchette, Patricia, , . Frege’s Conception of Logic
2012, New York: Oxford University Press.
Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Alex Yates

Publisher’s Note: In Frege’s Conception of Logic Patricia A. Blanchette explores the relationship between Gottlob Frege’s understanding of conceptual analysis and his understanding of logic. She argues that the fruitfulness of Frege’s conception of logic, and the illuminating differences between that conception and those more modern views that have largely supplanted it, are best understood against the backdrop of a clear account of the role of conceptual analysis in logical investigation.

The first part of the book locates the role of conceptual analysis in Frege’s logicist project. Blanchette argues that despite a number of difficulties, Frege’s use of analysis in the service of logicism is a powerful and coherent tool. As a result of coming to grips with his use of that tool, we can see that there is, despite appearances, no conflict between Frege’s intention to demonstrate the grounds of ordinary arithmetic and the fact that the numerals of his derived sentences fail to co-refer with ordinary numerals.

In the second part of the book, Blanchette explores the resulting conception of logic itself, and some of the straightforward ways in which Frege’s conception differs from its now-familiar descendants. In particular, Blanchette argues that consistency, as Frege understands it, differs significantly from the kind of consistency demonstrable via the construction of models. To appreciate this difference is to appreciate the extent to which Frege was right in his debate with Hilbert over consistency- and independence-proofs in geometry. For similar reasons, modern results such as the completeness of formal systems and the categoricity of theories do not have for Frege the same importance they are commonly taken to have by his post-Tarskian descendants. These differences, together with the coherence of Frege’s position, provide reason for caution with respect to the appeal to formal systems and their properties in the treatment of fundamental logical properties and relations.

Comment: This book would be a suitable resource for independent study, or for a historically oriented course on philosophy of logic, of math, or on early analytic philosophy, especially one which looks at philosophical approaches to axiomatic systems.

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