Frege’s Sinn und Bedeutung: first third

This essay by Gottlob Frege (1848-1925) was published in 1892 in the journal Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik, pp. 25-50. Dealing with the “philosophy of language,” it discusses the distinction that should be made between the sense and reference (hence: the title of the essay) of linguistic expressions.

It will be helpful to have the essay in hand to follow our discussion with maximum profit. It is available in more than one English-translation editions. Our discussion here covers the pages corresponding to pp. 25-31 of the original.

A Brief Critique of Non-Cognitivism (Ayer’s Version)

A. J. Ayer’s view of ethical judgments, often dubbed “emotivism,” is that ethical statements are neither true nor false and therefore are without significance. Behind this stance is his empiricism. In order for a statement to be meaningful, it must lend itself to some sort of verification. Without any possible means of verification statements fail to have to express anything. But Ayer does distinguish ethical judgment from other meaningless talk such that of speculative metaphysics or theology in that the former have at least a semblance of meaning since they display the attitude of the speaker toward certain types of actions. When one says, for example, “treason is wicked,” he is, on Ayers view, not uttering a statement with any cognitive content, but is, displaying his strong disapproval of treasonous behavior. Continue reading


Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies

One of the few benefits of living in an era of insanity is that it makes the peddlers of the most prosaic and obvious truths appear like sages. The banality I will defend here is that almost every stereotype you have ever heard is true. Continue reading

Gordon Clark on Science

The book entitled The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God expounds Gordon H. Clark’s view of science. The book proceeds by historical survey, and the three chapter divisions divide the history into the ancients, the Newtonians, and the 20th century. Roughly speaking, this corresponds to views of science that we could call rationalist, empirical-determinist, and empirical-indeterminist. Each of these is shown to come up short of the standard Clark has set for what science needs to accomplish Continue reading

Mill’s Refutation of Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is famous for its many flaws (e.g. committing the naturalistic fallacy, positing a simplistic psychological theory, failing to come to terms with ethical distinctions). All these, and more, have been dealt with extensively elsewhere. Here I merely wish to show that if one of J. S. Mill’s arguments succeeds, then Utilitarianism fails. Continue reading

Nudity in movies

One of our correspondents raised a question about the ethics of nudity in movies in connection with a remark I made in reviewing Dreamlife of Angels. In trying to pen some preliminary thoughts, I soon realized that the topic deserved a thread of its own, both because more needs to be said than is appropriate in a little “comment” box, and also to provide a better stage for our readers to offer additional suggestions on how to address this topic. Here are a few random thoughts to prime the pump: Continue reading