Notions of Existence in Frege

Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 9 (8) (2021)
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Abstract

In this paper, I aim to present the main components of my non-standard interpretation of Frege’s views on existence to the English-speaking public. First, I will outline the standard interpretation and show how to a great but not full extent the standard interpretation can be justified on the basis of Frege’s writings. Second, I show that the main error of the standard interpretation consists in the assimilation of the contents of the ordinary language expressions “exist” and “there is” according to Frege. Third, I evaluate possible sources for this unfounded assimilation. After that, I outline my alternative interpretation that distinguishes in opposition to other non-standard interpretations between a substantive and a deflationary part of Frege’s complete conception of existence in analogy to Frege’s analysis of truth and negation. Fifthly, I justify my interpretation by the reconstruction of a so far overlooked master argument of Frege against the above-mentioned assimilation. In the last section, I introduce and discuss five objections against my interpretation that came to my attention.

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Dolf Rami
King's College London

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