Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Frege-Geach whiteboard

I have a whiteboard in my office. I've used it three times over the 18 months or so that I've been here. Each time was to draw up the Frege-Geach problem for students.


Brock said...

One of the philosophical insights I'm most proud of is that the Frege-Geach argument can be adapted to show that performative utterances, such as promises, have cognitive content.

Suppose a politician is giving a speech, and says the following:

"I'm always keep my promises. If I promise I won't raise taxes, I won't raise taxes. And I promise I won't raise taxes. So you can rest assured that I won't raise taxes."

The third sentence is both a performative utterance, making a promise, and the minor premise in a modus ponens argument, like Geach's example argument about tormenting the cat.

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