The structure and unity of atomic Fregean thoughts: An explication and emendation

Akçelik, Oğuz
This thesis is about the structure and unity of atomic Fregean Thoughts as abstract structured entities which are the meanings and the primary truth-bearers of sentences as well as the objects of attitudes. We explicate Frege’s theory of Thoughts to argue that it is the most adequate semantic theory for explaining the meaning and truth of natural language expressions. However, there are certain problems concerning the structure and unity of Fregean Thoughts. Our initial conjecture is that Frege’s theory is incomplete in the sense of being vulnerable to certain puzzles and paradoxes, hence the problems concerning the structure and unity of atomic Thoughts demonstrate the apparent need of certain interpretations and supplementations to Frege’s semantic framework. For the problems concerning the structure, we focus on the apparent tension between the Context Principle and the Compositionality Principles, and Frege’s conflicting theses regarding the structural analysis and decomposition of Thoughts. For the problems concerning the unity, we deal with a unique problem, namely the concept horse paradox. In this thesis, we present our emendatory framework to interpret the sense and denotation functions as lambda-abstracts and provide our solution to the paradox. We claim that a grammatical subject, i.e., the concept horse, can denote a concept occurring in a context in which it is mentioned. Hence, the occurrence of the concept horse denotes an unsaturated concept. To conclude, we provide a satisfactory semantic theory of Thoughts and preserve the nature of Fregean intuitions about the philosophy of language.


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Citation Formats
O. Akçelik, “The structure and unity of atomic Fregean thoughts: An explication and emendation,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2022.