frege@stirling workshop III—June 10-11, 2015

Frege@Stirling Workshop III

—Sense-Identity and the Status of Definitions in Frege —

June 10-11, 2015

University of Stirling

Pathfoot Building – Room C1


Mike Beaney (York), Robin Jeshion (University of Southern California), Colin Johnston (Stirling), Marcus Rossberg (University of Connecticut), William Taschek (Ohio), Mark Textor (King’s College)



Epistemic accountability is a central plank of Frege’s conception of logic. A system of proof must make manifest any assumptions on which it might rest, and the fewer those assumptions, the better. In that way, any fault that would arise out of the correct application of the proof algorithms determined by the system would be more easily traceable to its origins. There are, or so it seems, three kinds of assumptions that Frege countenances: basic logical laws, primitive terms, and the claimed analytic equivalence between defined terms and their analysans. To this day, the epistemic status of these foundational assumptions remains highly problematic. And it turns out that when considering primitive terms and the status of Frege’s definitions, we encounter a problem that is perfectly symmetrical to that which arises in the case of the basic laws and which was the theme of our first workshop. In all three cases, that is, we encounter notions that make possible the essential components of Frege’s system, namely, proof, analysis and reference-determination. The logico-inferential mechanisms that those assumptions generate, however, cannot be applied to the assumptions themselves, since their powers run out at just that point. It thus seems as if Frege’s rigorous standards of proof can only give way once we reach the foundational level. In our third workshop, we will examine the other two kinds of assumptions and consider once again the role that the notion of sense (which we examined in our second workshop) could play in clarifying their epistemic status. We will also be exploring whether a unified account of the peculiar epistemic status of all three kinds of assumption is available. Particular focus will be placed on sense-identity criteria and on the contrast between definition and elucidation. Finally, we will consider the question whether Frege faces a version of the “leaching problem”, i.e. whether the lack of epistemic accountability for the primitive notions infects the epistemic status of what is derived from them in his system of proof.


For further information regarding the workshop, please contact the organisers, Philip Ebert and Walter Pedriali.

Registration is free, but you must register by May 22nd.

The Analysis Trust is generously making available four graduate students bursaries to assist with accommodation costs. Please contact the organisers for further details.

Information about StirlingPhilosophy@StirlingStirling CampusCampus MapTravelling to Stirling.


The series of workshops is partly sponsored by an Early Career Leverhulme Trust Award held by Walter Pedriali. Additional funds are provided by the Scots Philosophical Association and the University of Stirling. WorkshopLogos


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