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THOMAS at desk When in a sentence, a singular term is substituted for another with the same meaning, the meaning of the sentence remains constant. THOMAS brow darkens Some say meaning is naming. They say “Hesperus” means Hesperus and “Phosphorus” means Phosphorus. But Hesperus is Phosphorus. So if “Hesperus” meant Hesperus and “Phosphorus” meant Phosphorus, “Hesperus is Hesperus” and “Hesperus is Phosphorus” would mean the same thing. But they don’t! THOMAS sniffs Meaning as naming. Extensionalist semantics. What a crock! MEPHISTO appears in a puff of smoke. MEPHISTO Wait a minute! Not so durn fast! Maybe it’s not meaning as naming that’s a crock. Maybe it’s something else. Like The meaning of a sentence remains constant when a singular term is substituted for another with the same meaning. Maybe there’s your crock. Who’s to say? THOMAS stomps foot Mine is NOT a crock! MEPHISTO "This is a crock and that is not." O lover of wisdom, give me an ARGUMENT.

THOMAS resolute All right. Meaning as naming is a crock because it is inconsistent with a selfevident principle of philosophical semantics... MEPHISTO Evident, schmevident... THOMAS ...and touchstone of self-consistent thought, mere reflection on which—it’s Frege’s Principle you know--suffices... MEPHISTO smirks THOMAS Meaning as naming? I’ll show you! THOMAS advances on MEPHISTO, brandishing offprint. THE VOICE Unswerving devotion alone to Transcendent Truth would never have provoked Thomas’s willy-nilly flight from extensions. Had “Hesperus is Phosphorus” and “Hesperus is Hesperus” meant the same thing, as it was an article of faith that extensionally proper such sentences should, or had it been possible to predict such perturbations on the basis of the regnant ontology, Thomas would never have cast his lot in with those creatures of darkness that EX2-semanticists call intensions. Nor would Thomas have been likely to prostrate himself before whatever avatar of Fregean semantics was currently making the rounds of his culture circle. Unfortunately, “Hesperus is Phosphorus” and “Hesperus is Hesperus” didn’t mean the same thing; this was something on which Thomas and members of his culture circle fervently agreed.1 As for the ground-level objects of the standard ontology, no amount of prodding could force them to cough up the difference between “a = a” and “a = b”.

With the exception of Nathan Salmon.

THOMAS to MEPHISTO And so it was that Gottlob Frege, with his doctrine of sense and reference, cast extensions out from The Garden of Meaning. In the words of The Master: It is natural...to think of there being connected with a sign (name, combination of words, letter), besides that to which the sign refers, which may be called the reference of the sign, also what I should like to call the sense of the sign, wherein the mode of presentation is contained.2 It is to Frege, the Founder of Intensional Semantics, that we owe the insight that the senses of “Hesperus” and “Phosphorus” are ingredients in the meaning of “Hesperus = Hesperus” and “Hesperus = Phosphorus”. Not their reference, their sense. Substitute reference for sense and there is nothing to set sentences like these apart.3 Suppose the reference of “a” and “b” determines what “a = a” and “a = b” mean. In The Master’s words: ...the cognitive value of “a = a” becomes essentially that of “a = b”, provided “a = b” is true.4 On the other hand, if the sense of “a” and sense of “b” determine what “a = a” and “a = b” mean, the cognitive value of “a = a” is different from that of “a = b”, even when “a = b” is true. For although “a” and “b” are, then, identical in reference, they are different in sense. What IS a sense, you ask? Well, some say a sense is an object’s mode of presentation. Others say it’s an individual concept. Some say it’s a criterion


Gottlob Frege, "On Sense and Reference", in Translations of the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege, Geach and Black eds., Blackwell, Oxford, 1966, p.57 3 Tyler Burge writes: “[Frege] observed that a statement that Hesperus is Phosphorus has a different cognitive value from a statement that Hesperus is Hesperus . . . Since the referents of the component expressions of the two statements are the same, he located the difference in a difference in the sense, or cognitive value, expressed by the names 'Hesperus' and 'Phosphorus'.” This analysis was, Burge says, “so profound (emphasis added)…that theoretical development and explication of the notions of reference and sense became fundamental problems for the philosophy of language.” (“Philosophy of Language and Mind: 1950-1990”, The Philosophical Review 101(1) , Jan. 1992, pp. 15-16) 4 Frege, ibid.

for a word’s application. Others say it’s an incomplete state of affairs. Some say it’s a context in which a reference is found in the world.5 Others say (brightening)...it’s a function! A mathematical mapping! Take a sheet of paper. Draw a vertical line. On one side, put--put--put... THOMAS takes a deep breath. THOMAS I don’t KNOW what a sense is. MEPHISTO smiles. THOMAS Alright, alright. A sense . . . a sense . . . is whatever it is about “a” and “b” that makes “a = a” and “a = b” differ in cognitive value. THE VOICE Mephisto’s smile means Mephisto knows something that Thomas doesn’t. Indeed, Mephisto is about to give Thomas the Real Low Down about Hesperus and Phosphorus--with oodles of fire and brimstone, but minus the fonts and curlicues with which Thomas and his symbol-thumping cohorts religiously anoint the ponderous, mulled over dullness of their journal submissions; and with put-downs galore of "Frege fairy-tale semantics" that will make Thomas, his editor friends, their sustaining subscribers--and all those fervid little investors in Frege Futures over at the Oxford and Cambridge presses do a not-so-slow burn. THE VOICE to THOMAS If Mephisto opens his trap again, this thing will NEVER get published.


P. Butchvarov, “Identity”, in Peter A. French et al (eds.), Contemporary Studies in the Philosophy of Language, U. of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1979, p. 163 f.

THE VOICE to MEPHIST0 Sorry, Bub, but I’m TIRED of goosing electrons! THE VOICE to THOMAS PULL THE PLUG ON MEPHISTO! MEPHISTO squeals The Word Well-Lost
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