The Ontology of Reference: Studies in Logic and Phenomenology

Dissertation, Manchester (1976)
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Abstract: We propose a dichotomy between object-entities and meaning-entities. The former are entities such as molecules, cells, organisms, organizations, numbers, shapes, and so forth. The latter are entities such as concepts, propositions, and theories belonging to the realm of logic. Frege distinguished analogously between a ‘realm of reference’ and a ‘realm of sense’, which he presented in some passages as mutually exclusive. This however contradicts his assumption elsewhere that every entity is a referent (even Fregean senses can be referred to by means of suitably constructed expressions). We apply the meaning/object dichotomy to mathematical and fictional entities, and develop a view of mathematical and other abstract objects as the results of certain types of demarcation – as for example the North Sea is the result of demarcations built into naval charts. Such demarcations reflect demarcatory acts, which presuppose complex cognitive and social structures enabling the creation of maps, of theories (of mathematics, of natural science), and of novels.
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