A Context Principle for the Twenty-first Century

In Annalisa Coliva, Paolo Leonardi & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Eva Picardi on Language, Analysis and History (forthcoming)
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This is an article for an upcoming volume of essays in honor and memory of Eva Picardi. I engage with the literature that has tried to distill the significance of Frege's context principle for the philosophy of language (setting aside its role in Frege's argument for mathematical platonism). I argue that there are some interpretive problems with recent meta-semantic interpretations of the principle. Instead, I offer a somewhat weaker alternative: the context principle is a tool to license certain definitions. Moreover, I claim that it merely lays out one of many possible ways of licensing a definition. Despite Frege's imperative injunctions, we should take it to be a permission statement, not an obligation.
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