Function and Argument in Begriffsschrift / Journal Article

Badesa, C. – Bertran-San Millán, Joan. History and Philosophy of Logic. Vol. 38, N° 4 (2017), pp. 316–341. ISSN 0144-5340

It is well known that the formal system developed by Frege in Begriffsschrift is based upon the distinction between function and argumentas opposed to the traditional distinction between subject and predicate. Almost all of the modern commentaries on Frege's work suggest a semantic interpretation of this distinction, and identify it with the ontological structure of function and object, upon which Grundgesetze is based. Those commentaries agree that the system proposed by Frege in Begriffsschrift has some gaps, but it is taken as an essentially correct formal system for second-order logic: the first one in the history of logic. However, there is strong textual evidence that such an interpretation should be rejected. This evidence shows that the nature of the distinction between function and argument is stated by Frege in a significantly different way: it applies only to expressions and not to entities. The formal system based on this distinction is tremendously flexible and is suitable for making explicit the logical structure of contents as well as of deductive chains. We put forward a new reconstruction of the function-argument scheme and the quantification theory in Begriffsschrift. After that, we discuss the usual semantic interpretation of Begriffsschrift and show its inconsistencies with a rigorous reading of the text.

About Project

The aim of the project is to develop a formalization of epistemology analogous to Frege’s formalization of logic. The core of the project centres upon five theses setting out the path to a truly formal epistemology. These theses are based on the deeply-held belief that the current trend in the formalization of epistemology is insufficiently radical.

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