ABSTRACT. In his late fragment, “Sources of Knowledge of Mathematics and Natural Sciences,” Frege laments the tendency to confuse functions with objects and says, “It is here that the tendency of language by its use of the definite article to stamp as an object what is a function and hence a non-object, proves itself to be the source of inaccurate and misleading expressions and also of errors of thought. Probably most of the impurities that contaminate the logical source of knowledge have their origins in this.” This paper applies Frege’s logical insights to a series of influential modal arguments for the existence of souls or minds, in order to demonstrate that they hinge on the error of treating functions as objects. Related arguments have also resulted in the claim that identity statements are necessary, and that apparent identities “really” involve relations of constitution. Here it is argued that once we recognize that all these arguments involve the assimilation of objects and concepts (which Frege identifies with functions) they can be seen to be defective. pp. 20–35

Keywords: Gottlob Frege; Plato; René Descartes; Saul Kripke; mind brain identity; Constitution

How to cite: Green, Karen (2016), “On the Error of Treating Functions as Objects,” Analysis and Metaphysics 15: 20–35.

Received 13 December 2015 • Received in revised form 25 January 2016
Accepted 25 January 2016 • Available online 19 February 2016

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School of Historical and Philosophical Studies,
University of Melbourne

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