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Non-Existent Concepts

  • Howard Jackson (a1) and Richard E. Robinson (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2010

In the spirit of Frege's gripping opener in “Ueber Sinnund Bedeutung”, one can equally well say that the concept of existence challenges reflection; for how can one deny that Pegasus exists without presuming existence? After all, such claims can be informative, for they could be false. Consequently, one might argue, they must say something about something. Thus, they succeed in being, in a back-handed, paradoxical way, existence statements of a sort. This problem is very old; it is Plato's problem of non-being. Frege's solution to the problem is also well known.

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Class and Concept”, The Philosophical Review 64 [1955], 561570); also by

Michael Dummett (“Note: Frege on Functions”, The Philosophical Review 65 [1956], 229230). There is really no doubt that this was Frege's view (cf. “Funktion und Begriff” and “Ausführungen über Sinn und Bedeutung”, to mention only two places where Frege makes this clear). However, it is not quite correct, following Frege, to speak of the identity or non-identity of functions. This would be to treat them as objects, and thus to ignore their peculiar nature—their unsaturatedness. The closest we can come to identity for functions is the identity of their values for all arguments

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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