Philosophy of Language: Frege and Russel

Published: 2018-01-14 16:24:53
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Language philosophy question

Question 1

Assume that Johnny sincerely exclaims: 'Santa Claus is in the department store!' Suppose that there is a man dressed up in a red suit etc. in the department store. Is what Johnny says false? True? Does Johnny falsely believe that Santa Claus is in the department store? What is the meaning of Santa Claus' in terms of Fregean semantics?

In this scenario, the belief that Johnny has is that Santa exists and that Santa is dressed in red. Possible, Johnny based his belief on the premise that A man wearing a red suit during Christmas is Santa and hence have the following line of reasoning;

Santa is depicted to have a red suit.

The man in the department store has a red suit.

The man is Santa.

From Johnny’s perspective, the analogy is true. However, as per the Fregean’s viewpoint, when it comes to empty singular terms, the analogy is false. Empty singular terms tend to lack referent, and hence it becomes illogical to assume an assumption with the lack of referent (Kemp 19). In our case, Santa has always been associated with a large old man with a beard and wears a red suit. Therefore, most children know that Santa exists and looks in a particular manner. It becomes logical or rather naïve for Johnny to associate a man with a red suit with Santa. According to the Fregean semantics, the proposition by Johnny is false in regards to the naïve theory (Kemp 19). The fact that Santa does not exist implies that the idea of him appearing during Christmas has no referent. Hence, the question that needs to be answered is how an individual can put a belief in an ideology when the belief lacks proposition. The main component of a belief is that it should have a proposition or rather content (Kemp 19). A practical example is stating that an individual is drinking water when the water in not present.  In other words, it is illogical to have a belief in something or someone without any proposition (Kemp 19). Therefore, Johnny’s assertion that Santa is in the department store is false.

The philosophy of language question

Question 3:

 It is plausible to say that 'bought' and 'purchased' are synonyms— that they express the same sense. Is the following therefore a valid argument? Why or why not? 

Sam bought a turnip, 

Therefore, Sam purchased a turnip. 

What about: 

Susie believes that Sam bought a turnip. 

Therefore, Susie believes that Sam purchased a turnip, 

Discuss the relation between: 

that Sam bought a turnip, 

the sense of 'Sam bought a turnip'

The compositionality principle explains that the meaning given to a sentence is associated with its parts in addition to the manner in which the parts have structured the sentence (kemp 18). Therefore, when two sentences appear to exhibit similar structure and that every part in a sentence aligns with the meaning of the parts in the corresponding sentences then it implies that both sentences have the same meaning or rather illustrate similar proposition (Kemp 18). In our case the meaning of the parts in the sentence, Sam bought a turnip and aligns with the meaning of the parts of the sentence, Sam purchased a turnip and hence the propositions of the sentences are similar. 

 Sam bought a turnip=Sam purchased a turnip

Intuitively, the sentences appear to be explaining three different ideas, and therefore Sam bought a turnip = Sam purchased a turnip is incorrect. If the statement Sam bought a turnip = Sam purchased a turnip were true then the analogy that Sam bought a turnip would be similar to the assertion that Sam purchased a turnip. But, as earlier indicates, the sentences are not similar as one would have existed realistically in the absence of the other. In other words, if we did not have the knowledge that purchase was a synonym of bought, bought would have been used as per its meaning and also if the two terms were conflicting. Nonetheless, if the word ‘bought’ were the one known, then the word ‘purchase’ would be perceived as irrelevant. As indicated, “if one kicks X but does not kick Y, then X and Y cannot be the same thing,” (Kemp 18). In a more blatant manner:

Sam bought a turnip = Sam purchased a turnip

Sam bought a turnip = Sam bought a turnip

Hence in the aspect of making sense on “Sam bought a turnip,” Frege perceives that such a scenario, Sam bought a turnip = Sam bought a turnip, as an identified priori that does not need any form of investigation such that it does not supersede the known fact (Kemp 18).  However, for “Sam bought a turnip = Sam purchased a turnip,” Frege perceives it to be an unidentified priori such that an investigation is required to prove its certainty; a certainty that is beyond our knowledge (Kemp 18). Therefore, the cognitive value of Sam bought a turnip = Sam purchased a turnip and Sam bought a turnip = Sam bought a turnip does not align. Basing on the known terminology, the cognitive knowledge of the sentences differs and hence the only difference that exists between the terms “bought” and “purchase.” Both words refer to the same factor and hence there is no difference in the reference. 

In regards to the sense of the statement Sam bought a turnip, Frege brings into perspective the concept of reference distinction (Kemp 21). The view is that items with similar referent points may have different senses. The term used is conferential references whereby conferential singular terms may exhibit senses that are different. The sense entails how an object is perceived and the mode in which the object is approached. Simply put, the sense of a sentence refers to the thought associated with a sentence. (Kemp 21) In our case, the issue is identifying the relationship between Sam bought a turnip and the sense that Sam bought a turnip. The sense in this case is associated with the thought that Sam bought a turnip.

According to Frege, a singular term has a reference and meaning (Kemp 21). In our case, the term bought depicts a reference to Sam with the meaning that Sam acquired the turnip. The associated view is that a singular term tends to exhibit a referent point through virtue in regards to the expressed sense. In our case, the term “bought” presents a rule of choosing the intended object while the object is the reference point of the term for the rule chooses it. At a more practical illustration; to refer to “Sam’s buying” means to exhibit a sense that brings about “Sam’s buying”.

Linguistic philosophers

Question 6:

 How could words come to acquire their senses? If there were no 

Language users would there still be senses?

Frege bases his argument on the basis of senses when analyzing content. In other words, conceptual analysis entails studying the sense of concepts. Frege asserts that sense has to do with the thought associated to a word and that sense is what differentiates words that have the same referent points. He explains that the sense entails how an object is perceived and the mode in which the object is approached. In other words, the sense of a sentence refers to the thought associated with a sentence (Kemp 23). Frege also puts emphasis on singular terms having both meaning and referent points for them to bring about sense. Frege associates the aspect of meaning on sense such that the presence of meaning of referent point gives a term or sentence sense. The sense of a term refers to a situation that an object needs to satisfy to become the referent point of the associated term (Kemp 23). The condition in this case is what gives words their meanings. The view brings into perspective the truth value of a sentence. The perspective is associated with the fact that there exists an element that is caused by the referent points of the associated parts in a sentence.  Frege asserts that the true-value of a sentence is a sentences’ referent point. With reference to the principle of compositionality, a word acquires sense when in condition that determines its reference point. In other words, a sentence is perceived to exhibit sense when the associated condition makes it true. In a more general perspective, Frege emphasizes that sense has to do with the thought accorded to a sentence for a sentence to have a referent point or meaning. For words or language to facilitate the communication process such that the involved parties understand each other, they have to contain sense that brings about their meaning (Kemp 23).  

If there were no language-users, it is quite impossible for sense to exist. As stated earlier, the sense of a sentence refers to the thought associated with a sentence. For the thought to occur, a mental output has to be involved such that meaning is accorded to the words. Also, for the mental output to take place, the users of language have to exist. In other words, certain factors have to be present for words to exist and for language to make sense and hence, there would be no senses if the language-users were not present. The absence of the thought process such that sense is not associated, would result in a meaningless communication process such that the end result would be complete confusion (Kemp 30). 

Work Cited

Kemp, Gary. “What is this thing called Philosophy of Language?”. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

sheldon

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