Frege on the Normativity and Constitutivity of Logic for Thought i

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This two-part paper reviews a scholarly debate on an alleged tension in Frege's philosophy of logic. In Section 1 of Part I, I discuss Frege's view that logic is concerned with establishing norms for correct thinking and is therefore a normative science. In Section 2, I explore a different understanding of the role of logic that Frege seems to advance: logic is constitutive of the very possibility of thought, because it sets forth necessary conditions for thought. Hence, the tension: the view according to which logic is normative for thought seems to be incompatible with the idea that abiding by the laws of logic forms a precondition for thought. In Section 1 of Part II, I survey a number of interpretations of Frege's conception of logic that deal with this question. I show that they are for the most part either normative readings (emphasising the former understanding of the nature of logic) or constitutive readings (emphasising the latter). Finally, in Section 2, I adjudicate the debate and aim at reconciling the normative and the constitutive strands in Frege's conception of logic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-591
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophy Compass
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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