Frege’s Theory of Language
Frege’s theory of language is based on his commitment to the compositionality theory which suggests that “the meaning of a sentence is a function of the meanings of its constituent parts plus its syntactic structure.”(1x) Combining this theory with a theory he previously had committed to, the referential theory of names, which suggests that a names’ semantic role is only to pick out an object, created a problem that can be seen most clearly in identity statements in the forms of A=A or A=B involving co-referential terms. For example, (1) “The Morning Star is the Morning Star.” and (2) “The Morning Star is the Evening Star.”. Although they have true truth values, they express very different thoughts, thoughts which must be accounted for. Sentence (1) is a logical truth that can be known a priori simply by examining the sentence, but (2) requires posteriori knowledge before knowing its truth value and understanding its meaning. From this problem, Frege develops his solution first by dismissing the referential theory of names and second by suggesting that logical proper names have two semantic relations: sense and reference, and that the understanding of both of these is required to understand any statement or sentences’ meaning. A names’ sense, as James Bailie puts it is “a mode of presentation” or “a way of conceiving the thing referred to.” A names reference is simply the object that the name picks out.(2X)
Frege on “Brad Pitt’s twin is also his best friend.”
Frege would begin analyzing this sentence by asserting that this sentence is an argument in the form of an identity statement. The sentence contains two logical proper names, “Brad Pitt’s twin” and “his (Brad Pitt’s) best friend”, each functioning as what appears to be a reference to an object or, in this case, a person. Each of these logical proper names has a unique sense, which is to say that the objects they appear to refer to, if any, are being...