Frege on Identity and Identity-Statements: A Reply to Thau and Caplan

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 33 (1):83-102 (2003)
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In ‘What’s Puzzling Gottlob Frege?’ Michael Thau and Ben Caplan argue that, contrary to the common wisdom, Frege never abandoned his early view that, as he puts it in Begriffsschrift, a statement of identity ‘expresses the circumstance that two names have the same content’ and thus asserts the existence of a relation between names rather than a relation between objects. The arguments at the beginning of ‘On Sense and Reference’ do, they agree, raise a problem for that view, but, they insist, Frege does not, as the ‘standard’ interpretation has it, take these arguments to refute it. Rather, they claim, Frege is out to defend his earlier view against these objections: indeed, the defense he there offers is pretty much the same defense offered in Begriffsschrift against what are pretty much the same objections.
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