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¶¶3-7) Connections with language
A proper name is any letter or sign or combination of signs that designates
¶¶1-2) Sense v. reference
Is equality a relation
Grasp of the sense of the name attends understanding of the language.
Grasp of the sense illuminates an aspect of the reference (if a reference exists).3Comprehensive knowledge of the reference would allow us to say whether any
given sense belongs to it. But we could never have such knowledge.4
¶1, ss4-10) Bg’s rationale for (ii).
The sense determines uniquely the reference, if the reference exists.5 A sign
is supposed to express a unique sense, but language is ambiguous.
5) The statements a = a and a = b differ in cognitive value.
Statement of form a = a are a priori and analytic.
¶6) designata of quotations
Quotation marks effect that the enclosed words lose
Statements of the form a = b may valuably extend our knowledge and cannot
their ordinary reference and refer instead to themselves.6
¶7) designata of reported speech
An expression that refers to the sense of the
Suppose the statement a = b is true.
expression ‘A’ is in fact the expression ‘the sense of the expression ‘A.’ But another
Suppose equality were a relation of the designata of ‘a’ and ‘b’.
Then a = b would express a relation of a to itself, just like a = a.
So the two statements would not differ in what they express.
10) This favors (ii), that by a = b we intend to say of the names ‘a’ and b’ that they
Associated with a sign is not just the sense and reference but also an idea, a mental
There is no invariable connection, even within one person, of a sense with an idea.
The idea is subjective. No two people can have the same idea.
¶1, ss11-17) objection to (ii).
In contrast, the sense of a sign may be the common property of many, and is not a
11-12) According to (ii), the relation of equality between signs a and b would be me-
part or a mode of the individual mind.
diated by the relations of a and b to their designata.
13-14) But these relations can be arbitrarily established by anyone.
A proper name expresses its sense and stands for or designates its reference.
15) So a = b would refer no longer to the subject-matter but to only to its mode of
designation; it would not express genuine knowledge.1
16) Suppose we consider the sign merely as object and not as sign, not by how it
The idealist might object: how do you know that ‘the moon’ has a reference?
designates: then a = b has essentially the cognitive value of a = a.
Frege: when we use the name ‘the moon’ we do not intend to speak of an idea ofthe moon, nor of some mode of presentation.7
¶1, ss18-21) cognitive value reexamined.
We must appeal to something fur-
Rather, we presuppose that the phrase ‘the moon’ has a reference.
ther, what distinguishes the trivial and nontrivial instances of a = b: this resides in
To speak of the reference of an expression incurs no more baggage then does the
use of the expression in the first place.
So: there is connected with a sign, besides its designation or reference, also
what what is to be called its sense, which includes the mode of presentation.
¶¶16-22) the sense and reference of sentences
¶17) Some conclusions
(i) the reference of a sentence may be sought whenever
the reference of the components is involved; (ii) the reference of the components is
A sentence contains a thought.8
involved only when we are inquiring after truth-value.
The sense expressed by a sentence is its associated thought.
¶18) Further conclusions
The reference of a sentence is its truth-value. The truth-
(5) Suppose that a sentence has a reference.9
value is the circumstance that it is true or false.14 The truth-values are objects(cf. BuG). The true and the false are recognized by anyone who judges, even by a
(6) Suppose sentence S results from S by substituting the name t for coreferring
skeptic. In a judgment, which is acknowledgment of a truth of a thought, we make
a step from the level of thoughts to the level of reference, the objective.15
(6) Then the reference of S is the reference of S.10
¶19 Maybe we could regard the relation of the thought to the True not as that of
sense to reference, but rather as that of subject to predicate.
(7) But the thought associated with S differs from the thought with S.
To clarify the suggestion, note the clarification of s35 that “subject and predicate”
are “understood in the logical sense,” so that they are “elements of thought.”
(9) So it is not the case that the thought of a sentence is the reference of the sen-
Now, consider the sentence: (a) “the thought, that 5 is a prime number, is true.”
This says no more than what is said by the sentence (b) “5 is a prime number.”
(9) Instead the thought of a sentence is the sense it expresses.11
First pass: (a) expresses the same thought as (b) the thought expressed by (b)
does not involve a predication of truth. ((for if the thought expressed by (b) in-
We12 may inquire after the reference of a sentence just when we
volved a predication of truth, then the thought expressed by (b) would be infinitely
are concerned with the reference of its parts.
complicated, and that’s absurd.)) therefore, the thought expressed by (a) does notinvolve a predication of truth.
(10-12) Does a sentence have a reference?
Objections. Premise (2) seems doubtful. For example, it is in general only rela-
(13-16) If the part lacks reference then so should the whole.13
tive to an analysis that a thought involves some given predication: relative to an-other analysis, the thought maybe involves another predication instead. However,
(17) Introduces the notion of a person who “seriously takes a sentence to be true
premise (2) seems to rely on an absolute notion of the predicate of a thought. In
or false.” Assimilates to this “real predication,” by which maybe he means
particular, maybe Frege’s view is that since indeed (a) and (b) are logically equiv-
alent, it is only relative to one analysis or the other that a thought involves thepredication of truth. On this reading, for example, “(that 5 is prime)= the True”
(17-20) (i) in order to countenance judgment, we must acknowledge the reference of
would express the same thought as “5 is prime;” and only relative to one analysis
or the other could we decide whether the predication is of truth or primality.
(ii) we needn’t acknowledge the reference of the name if we don’t countenance
Cf. this passage from “My basic logical insights:” “The thought expressed in
these words coincides with the sense of the sentence ‘that sea-water is salt.’ So the
(20) The reason for (ii) is that the sense of the whole depends only on the sense of
sense of the word ‘true’ is such that it does not make any essential contribution to
the thought. If I assert ‘it is true that sea-water is salt,’ I assert the same thing asif I assert ‘sea-water is salt.’ This enables us to recognize that the assertion is not
(21) The sense of the whole is indifferent to the existence of reference of the parts.
to be found in the word ‘true,’ but in the assertoric force with which the sentenceis uttered. This may lead us to think that the word ‘true’ has no sense at all. But
(22-24) Concern for the reference of a part indicates concern for the reference of the
in that case a sentence in which ‘true’ occurred as predicate would have no sense
whole. Loss of value for us of a thought stems from discovery of a failure of
either. All one can say is: the word ‘true’ has a sense that contributes nothing to
reference in its parts. The loss of value of the thought that would attend lack
the sense of the whole sentence in which it occurs as a predicate.” (p251)
of reference of the part: this justifies us in inquiring after the reference of the
After introducing the pair of sentences (a) and (b) Frege’s next remark seems
to indicate he accepts that their synonymy simply leaves open whether or not the
thought involves predication of truth: “the truth-claim arises in each case from theform of the declarative sentence.”
(25-27) We want a reference for every proper name when and only when we are con-
He then gives some considerations whose point seems to be that the truth-claim
is independent of the verbal predication of truth. The truth-claim can be present
or absent regardless of the presence of the verbal predication of truth, accordinginstead as the declarative sentence is uttered with appropriate force.
Here are two accounts of the way in which a thought divides into function and
argument: a thought may in turn inherit this division from a verbal expression ofthat thought, or from its logical relationships with other thoughts.
Suppose that a thought inherits its division into function and argument from its
inferential relationships to other thoughts. Now in particular,
, because thoughts and the True are not themselves directly grammatically cate-
1A threat of psychologism?2This seems to exclude empty proper names. The basic point of the stipulation is to contrast proper
names with objects. Cf. Dummett’s second-level counterpart of designation.
4What would it be for us to say whether a sense belongs to the reference?5So it appears that the sense determines uniqueness but not existence. This may be technically
achieved by transforming a predicate λxF x into λx(F x ∧ ∀y(F y → y = x)). But epistemologically itis odd.
6Is the context principle acting to preserve compositionality here?7Cf. introduction to Gg.
8I guess he says ‘contains’ because after the terminological stipulation, ‘expresses’ or ‘stands for’
9The following argument doesn’t seem to require the assumption that the sentence has a reference,
but only that the reference of the sentence would be determined by the reference of the parts. It isslightly odd that he begins the argument by assuming the sentence to have a reference. Note in partic-ular that the second phase of the paragraph works to discharge the assumption.
10Why? Presumably because the reference of the whole would be determined by the reference of the
11What are the grounds of the conclusion? Does he simply assume: either the thought is the sense,
or the thought is the reference? This seems slightly unmotivated. Further support would come fromthe hypothesis that the sense of the sentence depends on the sense of its parts. Change in the sense ofa part induces change in the thought; the hypothesis tells us that change in the sense of the part mayinduce change in the sense of whole. So, we observe that the thought varies when we would a prioriexpect the sense to vary. This supports the identification of the thought with the sense of the sentence.
12General hypothesis: the personal pronouns in sentences 1-13 range over Frege and his audience;
the personal pronouns from 17 onward range over any person (or over what judges). 17ff introducenormative or epistemic considerations. We have talk of people being serious, of our expectations, theirsatisfaction, the loss of value for us in a thought, of the break with aesthetic delight for an attitude ofscientific investigation.
13This is a funny move, because the conditional seems to follow from the principle that the reference
of the parts determines the reference of the whole (cf s6.2). but on the other hand the consequent of theconditional follows from the hypothesis that no sentence has reference.)
Interpretive conjecture: the dialectical technique of ss13-16 is like a reminder to a skeptic of the
familiar contours of ignorance and its redress. The question displays our estrangement from the formsof reason in a practice. Frege points to the implicit role of compositionality of reference in the structureof our concerns for reference. Cf. ¶¶15, 18.
14I think that this use of “value” is supposed to resonate with the “loss of value” of 6s23. The True
and the False are values, not because they are values of variables, but because they belong with theGood, the Bad and the Ugly. One gloss is: a sentence is charged with value by the circumstance that itis true or false.
15Burge says that this is a play on “object” in “truth-values are objects.”
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