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Danielle Macbeth, Freges Logic, Harvard University Press, 2005, xii+206pp, $45.

00, ISBN 0674017072 Reviewed by Sanford Shieh, Wesleyan University

As MacBeth puts it in the Preface, her aim in this book is to develop a novel reading of Freges logical language Begriffsschrift and to defend that reading textually as a reading of Freges writings (vii). She rejects the widespread assumption that Frege is (one of) the discoverer(s) of modern polyadic quanticational logic, by arguing that Freges logical language ... can ... be read as ... radically different from a language of quanticational logic (vii). Although MacBeth doesnt put it in this way, on her alternative reading Frege was engaged in an expressivist and inferentialist project similar in spirit to the one recently articulated by Robert Brandom. Since its always philosophically salutary to be made aware of and to re-examine ones fundamental assumptions, it is useful for anyone interested in Freges views, or in the nature of logic, to confront MacBeths challenge to the orthodoxy even if, like me, one nds it not altogether clear what MacBeths case amounts to, and even if what one can understand of it is ultimately unpersuasive. I will rst give an outline of MacBeths interpretation, omitting details that I dont take to contribute to the main argument, and then examine more closely her principal exegetical theses. Outline of the Interpretation MacBeth begins from a novel account of what Frege thought was missing in mathematical practice from Euclid to his day. On the standard account, Frege thought mathematical proofs often proceeded on hidden assumptions; not all the premises on which the truth of the theorems depended were explicitly stated. MacBeth cites Freges discussion of one of Euclids proofs to argue that Frege had a different criticism: for Frege Euclids proofs are not enthymematic, deductively gappy . . . ; they are instead expressively gappy. Euclid should have explicitly stated in advance . . . all the inference rules, whether formal or material, that he employs in his proofs (12). Thus, Frege thought that whats missing in most mathematics up to his day are the means for expressing fully all the valid rules of inference used in proofs, and his Begriffsschrift was intended to be such means. MacBeth claims Frege used certain Begriffsschrift formulas which she calls generalized conditionals or genuine hypotheticals to express rules of inference. MacBeths account of these Begriffsschrift sentences is the most striking aspect of her reading of Frege. On the received view, Freges claim to being a founder of modern logic rests on his discovery of a notation for the universal quantier and polyadic predication, which enabled him to delineate the logic of polyadic quantier dependence. In modern logic the quantiers are conceived of as the primary expression of generality, because by using them one can construct statements whose truth conditions are determined by features of a domain of entities, and thereby can be thought of as being about, not specic individuals, but the domain as a whole. So, on this view, Freges concavity symbol and German (Gothic) letters are just variant notations for the universal quantier and bound variables. Other expressions of Begriffsschrift are similarly construed as variants of modern logic, most importantly for MacBeth, Freges condition-stroke is taken to be a sign for the material conditional, , and his Latin (italic) letters are taken to be free variables. MacBeth argues, in contrast, that for Frege
Citations of the book under review are by page number only. Citations of Freges works are by the following abbreviations identical to those used in Freges Logic: BGS CN CP GG PW Begriffsschrift, a Formula Language, Modeled upon That of Arithmetic, for Pure Thought. In CN. Conceptual Notation and Related Articles. Trans. and ed. T. W. Bynum. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972. Collected Papers on Mathematics, Logic, and Philosophy. Ed. Brian McGuinness. Trans. Max Black, V. H. Dudman, Peter Geach, Hans Kaal, E.-H. Kluge, Brian McGuinness, R. H. Stoothuff. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984. The Basic Laws of Arithmetic: Exposition of the System. Trans. Montgomery Furth. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964. Posthumous Writings. Ed. Hans Hermes, Friedrich Kambartel, and Friedrich Kaulbach. Trans. Peter Long and Roger White. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.

the primary means of expressing generality are not the concavity and German letters at all, but the condition-stroke and Latin letters. When the subcomponents (what we would now call the antecedents) and the main component (what we would now call the consequent) of a Begriffsschrift formula constructed with the condition-stroke contain the same Latin letter(s), this formula expresses generality and is a generalized conditional, or genuine hypothetical. Lets call such a formula an L-generality. On the standard view L-generalities are notational variants of open conditional sentences with occurrences of the same free variables in the antecedent and the consequent, perhaps with tacit initial universal quantiers. MacBeth argues that for Frege L-generalities express all and only causal or lawful or internal connections. What she means, I take it, is that the truth of the thoughts that an object falls under each of the (possibly complex) concepts expressed by the subcomponents is a ground or sufcient reason for the truth of the thought that that object falls under the (also possibly complex) concept expressed by the main component. Thus, on the basis of judgments of the former thoughts one may judge the latter thought. Presumably this is how L-generalities express rules of inference. Indeed, MacBeth claims that only [L-generalities] are suitable to do duty in inference (GG 17) (57). But of course MacBeths account so far is perfectly compatible with a quanticational conception of L-generalities. Clearly if a universally quantied conditional (x)(1 (x) . . . . . n (x) (x)) is true, then the truth of 1 (a), . . . , n (a) is a ground or sufcient reason for the truth of (a). Indeed, if the open sentence that is the matrix of such a conditional1 (x) . . . . . n (x) (x)is valid, then again the truth of 1 (a), . . . , n (a) sufces for the truth of (a). For this reason, MacBeth needs to go further, and argue that L-generalities are not universally quantied conditionals or valid conditional open sentences. Specically, she adopts the interpretive strategy of understanding an L-generality as an inference license, as a kind of rule, that . . . functions . . . not as a claim from which one reasons but instead as a principle or rule according to which one reasons (28). MacBeth carries out this interpretive strategy by arguing that Begriffsschrift sentences . . . exhibit logical relations (56). The notions of exhibiting or showing and their opposite notions of saying or stating seem central to MacBeths interpretation, so it is unfortunate that she never makes this distinction very clear or precise. It is relatively clear that she takes modern quanticational languages, like natural languages, to be designed for saying, because sentences of such languages are conceived of as expressing or depicting truth conditions, what is the case if the sentence is true (44), or states of affairs, the circumstance that obtains if a sentence is true (131). MacBeth has a very particular conception of what it is for a sentence to say something, to express truth conditions; this conception can be explained by looking at one of her examples:
It is a fundamental insight of modern logic that, for the purposes of logic, a sentence such as Romeo loves Juliet is not about the grammatical subject Romeo, saying of him that he loves Juliet. Nevertheless, as standardly conceived, such a sentence, more perspicuously rendered Lrj, does have a logical subject. What it is about, logically, is the ordered pair <Romeo, Juliet>; what it says about the people so ordered is that the two-place predicate loves applies to them. (38-9)

From this I take it that what for MacBeth is essential to the truth conditional view of language is that any given sentence, by itself, is determinately about something, its logical subject (which may well be a structured entity), and describes this subject in some way, by ascribing or predicating some properties or relations to it. On MacBeths account, Frege, at least in his mature logic of Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, did not conceive of Begriffsschrift in this way. Specically, Frege would
read the sentence Lrj differently, not as saying of Romeo and Juliet that the former loves the latter but as only showing Romeo, Juliet, and the relation of loving in a certain relation. So conceived, the

sentence presents not Romeo and Juliet in the rst-level relation of loving but instead, all threeRomeo, Juliet, and lovingin the second-level logical relation of subsumption. The sentence so read does not say that these three entities stand in this relation; independent of an analysis it does not say anything at all. It only shows how things stand if it is true. In order to recover truth conditions from it, we must analyze it into function and argument. (43-4; emphases mine)

Her main reason for this view, it seems, is Freges well-known insistence that a given Begriffsschrift sentence is open to a number of distinct analyses into argument and function, and only relative to such an analysis can one apply the traditional notions of subject and predicate to that sentence. It is not clear what exactly MacBeth concludes from this argument. At times she seems to reason thus: since to express truth conditions is to say something about a logical subject, it follows that for Frege independent of a function/argument analysis a Begriffsschrift sentence does not express any truth conditions. But MacBeth also thinks that at least some Begriffsschrift sentences are associated with judgeability conditions, the necessary and sufcient conditions for acknowledging the truth of Begriffsschrift sentences . . . where such a judgment is not the conclusion of an inference but a judgment made solely on the basis of the content itself (33, my emphases). Furthermore, [i]n Grundgesetze, after Frege has distinguished Sinn from Bedeutung, that same end is achieved by setting out the necessary and sufcient conditions under which Begriffsschrift sentences . . . designate the True. Because the truth of a thought is necessary and sufcient for correctly acknowledging its truth, judgeability conditions immediately follow (33). One way of rendering these two views consistent is to distinguish the conditions under which a Begriffsschrift sentence designates the True from their truth conditions. In what follows I will refer to the former as Truth conditions. Whether or not some or all Begriffsschrift sentences express truth conditions or Truth conditions, it appears that for MacBeth all Begriffsschrift sentences show logical relations. L-generalities, in particular, exhibit logical relations among rst-level concepts; specically, they show all the rst-level concepts expressed by the subcomponents to be subordinate to the rst-level concept expressed by the main component. MacBeths argument for this claim, so far as I can tell, consists of a negative and a positive part. Negatively, she argues that Latin letters in L-generalities cannot be free variables. Positively, she argues that, for Frege, replacing specic names with Latin letters in a sentence, thereby conferring generality on the result, pushes our thinking up a level (65), from consideration of objects to consideration of rst-level concepts, and so the generality in no way involves reference to objects (67). Presumably it is by displaying relations among rst-level concepts that L-generalities express inference licenses, but so far as I can tell MacBeth does not explain how this works. It seems to me that at times at least MacBeth also holds that L-generalities do not express truth or Truth conditions, because of her theory that they do not function as premises on the truth of which the truth of the conclusions in the inferences in which they occur depend. But now what about Freges concavity and German letters? If they are not the universal quantier and bound variables, what are they doing in Begriffsschrift? MacBeths theory is that these signs make it possible to say what is only shown in L-generalities, that is, to state, of the concepts shown in the relation of subordination by an L-generality, that they stand in that relation. Now one may well ask why Frege would need to say this in his logic, since according to MacBeth the display of subordination is all that is needed or wanted in inference. MacBeths answer is that in saying this, the concavitized generality (henceforth C-generality) shows these rst-level concepts as subsumed under a second-level one. So the role of the concavity is to display second-level concepts. Moreover, on MacBeths reading, Frege eventually came to realize that this display is necessary because he came to think that second- and higher-level concepts are the subject matter of logic. MacBeth uses the ideas of exhibiting logical relations and stating truth conditions to give an interpretation of Freges Sinn/Bedeutung distinction. On her account, [i]n the Begriffsschrift . . . Frege assumes that . . . everything necessary for a correct inference, that is, inferential content or begrificher Inhalt, can be given 3

by the truth conditions of a sentence, by the circumstance that obtains if the sentence is true (130). But, she argues, Frege came to see that this view is problematic because of examples like the following:
[I]f j = k, then Fj is true just in case Fk is true, . . . it is the same circumstance that obtains if Fj is true and if Fk is true. But . . . the sentences Fj and Fk nevertheless seem not to have the same content in the sense of begrificher Inhalt. [F]or not all consequences derivable from the one combined with certain other judgments can be derived from the other combined with those same judgments. Consider, for example, the premise if Fj, then Gm. (112)

MacBeth clearly thinks that this problem is one of Freges motivations for developing the Sinn/Bedeutung distinction. Her account of Sinn and Bedeutung may be gathered from the following quotations:
Grasp of the . . . Sinn of an expression . . . involves three . . . capacities. First, one needs to know how to form and to recognize simple and logically complex sentences . . . . Second, one needs to know how to apply the signs of the formula language of thought in correct judgments. . . . Knowing in this way the conditions under which a sentence of Begriffsschrift composed of such signs designates the True, one knows how correctly to apply the language, how to employ it in making correct judgments about how things are. The third and last thing one needs to know is how to draw valid inferences, that is, the rules that govern correct inferences from Begriffsschrift judgments. (132-4)

Thus her view appears to be that Sinn includes both Truth (not truth) conditions and inferential content, while the Bedeutung of an expression is its contribution to the Truth conditions of the sentences in which it occurs. I turn now to a closer examination of MacBeths arguments for the main theses of her interpretation, which appear below numbered and in boldface. 1. Freges motivation for developing Begriffsschrift is the failure of existing mathematical reasoning to express all rules of inference, rather than all premises. As noted above, MacBeths basis for this thesis is one of Freges discussions of Euclid. What MacBeth quotes from Frege is the following passage:
[I]n the proof of the nineteenth theorem of the rst book of The Elements (in every triangle, the largest angle lies opposite the largest side), [Euclid] tacitly uses the statements: (1) If a line segment is not larger than a second one, the former is equal to or smaller than the latter. (2) If an angle is the same size as a second one, the former is not larger than the latter. (3) If an angle is smaller than a second one, the former is not larger than the latter. (CN 85)

On the basis, it seems, of only this text, MacBeth claims that [t]hese . . . are . . . materially valid rules that govern the correct use of the (rst-level) relations larger-than, equal-to, and smaller-than as they apply to angles and line segments (12). But I dont see how the quotation supports MacBeths claim, since Freges word for the three items Euclid tacitly uses is statement (Satz) not rule of inference. 4

MacBeth then goes on to claim that [n]evertheless, Frege suggests, [the three statements] are valid rules of inference; they are used just like those laws [of thought] themselves (CN 85) (12). The text which MacBeth cites from Frege, they are used just like those laws [of thought] themselves, is a phrase taken from a longer sentence, and she evidently takes this phrase to be the basis for Freges suggestion that Euclids three statements are valid rules of inference. But I again dont see how the phrase supports her claim: that these statements are used like laws of logic surely does not entail that they are rules of inference; it doesnt even imply that they are the same kind of thing as laws of logic. Moreover, lets look the full sentence from which this phrase is taken:
Only by paying particular attention . . . can the reader become aware of the omission of these sentences, especially since they seem so close to being as fundamental as the laws of thought that they are used just like those laws themselves. (CN 85)

It seems to me that an equally good if not better reading of this sentence than MacBeths is this: because Euclids three statements seem like laws of logic, Euclid used them as if they were, and, for that reason, failed to become aware he is assuming that they are true, and so failed to see that the truth of his theorem depends on the truth of these statements. This reading is supported by a passage from a late, unpublished paper, Logic in Mathematics:
When an inference is being drawn, we must know what its premises are. We must not allow the premises to be confused with the laws of inference, which are purely logical; otherwise the logical purity of the inferences will be lost and it would not be possible, in the confusion of premises with laws of inference, clearly to distinguish the former. But if we have no clear recognition of what the premises are, we can have no certainty of arriving at the primitive truths, and failing that we cannot construct a system. For this reason we must avoid such expressions as a moments reection shows that or as we can easily see. We must put the moments reection into words so that we can easily see what inferences it consists of and what premises it makes use of. (310-1; emphases mine)

Here Frege explicitly distinguishes premises from laws of inference, and, more importantly, characterizes laws of inference as purely logical. This suggests, contra MacBeth, that Frege would not take what she calls materially valid rules to be laws of inference at all. Second, note that here Frege is inveighing against confusing premises with laws of inference. Third, Freges prescription for avoiding such confusions is to avoid unreectively taking steps in a proof to be justied because they seem obviously valid; if we take the trouble to spell out exactly what a given step is, we will (at least have a better chance of coming to) see whether indeed it is made only on the basis of laws of inference or whether it depends on tacit premises. For example, suppose we nd ourselves arguing that since line segment A is not larger than line segment B, A must be equal to or smaller than B. If, perhaps like Euclid, we just say to ourselves, how could the conclusion not follow?, then we will fail to see that our theorem actually depends on the truth of statement (1) in the quote above. 2. For Frege laws are inference licenses rather than premises. This thesis seems to be contradicted by something that Frege says explicitly:
But are there perhaps modes of inference peculiar to mathematics which, for that very reason, do not belong to logic? Here one may point to the inference by mathematical induction from n to n + 1. Well, even a mode of inference peculiar to arithmetic must be subject to a law and this law, if it is not logical in nature, will belong to mathematics, and can be ranked with the theorems or axioms of this science. For instance, mathematical induction rests on the law that can be expressed as follows:

If the number 1 has the property and if it holds generally for every positive whole number n that if it has the property then n + 1 has the property , then every positive whole number has the property . If this law can be proved, it will be included amongst the theorems of mathematics; if it cannot, it will be included amongst the axioms. If one draws inferences by mathematical induction, then one is actually making an application of this theorem or axiom; that is, this truth is taken as a premise of an inference. For example: the proof of the proposition (a + b) + n = a + (b + n). So likewise in other cases one can reduce a mode of inference that is peculiar to mathematics to a general law, if not to a law of logic, then one of mathematics. And from this law one can then draw consequences in accordance with general logical laws. (PW 203-4; quoted by MacBeth, at FL 15; second set of emphases mine)

It should be clear what the problem is. My emphases points to Freges characterization of the law of mathematical induction as a premise and as a truth. In this connection recall Freges sharp distinction between premises and laws of inference, which are purely logical, in the passage from Logic in Mathematics quoted above. Interestingly, on page 15 MacBeth quotes all but the third paragraph of the just-quoted passage. 3. L-generalities are Freges primary means of expressing generality. MacBeths argument for this thesis goes as follows:
Latin italic letters used in the expression of generality are rst introduced in Begriffsschrift 1; only much later, in 11, does the concavity make its rst appearance. The concavity is needed, Frege says in that later section, because it delimits the scope . . . of the generality signied by the letter. (60)

But Freges actual text does not support these claims. To begin with, what Frege writes in Begriffsschrift 1 is: I ... divide all signs that I use into those by which we may understand different objects and those that have a completely determinate meaning. The former are letters and they will serve chiey to express generality. While Freges example of the former type of sign uses Latin letters, he does not specically say that Latin letters serve chiey to express generality; he just says letters. If indeed this is just an oversight, then one would expect Frege to correct it in 11, which begins the part titled Generality, suggesting that it is starting from this section that Frege will provide his ofcial account of the symbols for expressing generality. 11 begins thus:
In the expression of a judgment we can always regard the combination of signs to the right of as a function of one of the signs occurring in it. If we replace this argument by a German letter and introduce in the content stroke a concavity containing the same German letter, as in


then this stands for the judgement that the function is a fact whatever we may take for its argument. . . . Thus, from such a judgment we can always derive an arbitrary number of judgements with less general content by putting something different each time in place of the German letter; when we do this, the concavity in the content stroke disappears again.(BGS 130, all emphases in original)

So, when Frege ofcially introduces the expression of generality, he begins with German letters and the concavity. Furthermore, on MacBeths interpretation, one would expect Frege to say or imply that the use of the concavity is only necessary where we need to delimit scopes, and so is a special case of the expression of generality. But here is what Frege actually writes in 11 about scope and the concavity: 6

Naturally it is permitted to replace a German letter throughout its scope by another particular one provided that there are still different letters standing where different letters stood before. This has no effect on the content. Other substitutions are permitted only if the concavity follows immediately after the judgment stroke so that the content of the whole judgment constitutes the scope of the German letter. Since, accordingly, this is a specially important {ausgezeichnet} case, I shall introduce the following abbreviation for it: An italic letter is always to have as its scope the content of the entire judgment, and this need not be signied by a concavity in the content stroke. (BGS 131-2; boldface emphases mine, all others in original)

The boldface portion of this quotation clearly says that the use of Latin letters is an abbreviation, to be used in the case when the scope of the letter is the entire judgment, and so in such special cases scope need not be signied by a concavity. That is, here Frege specically characterizes the use of Latin letters as a special case. We will see below what, at least in Grundgesetze, Frege thought was the importance of these special cases. Of course MacBeth might reply that Frege only came to realize the primacy of L-generalities in Grundgesetze. But, as we will see in the next section, the order in which Latin letters and the concavity are ofcially introduced in that book is the same as in Begriffsschrift. 4. Frege does not understand L-generalities quanticationally. The main problem that arises for this thesis is that Freges exposition of the concavity and of Latin letters in the mature logic of Grundgesetze seems prima facie to be quanticational. In Grundgesetze the notion of generality is rst introduced in 8, where Frege writes:
To obtain an expression for the generality, we might think of a denition of this sort: By (x) is to be understood the True, if the value of the function () is the True for every argument; otherwise it denotes the False. (GG 40)

Unlike Begriffsschrift, here Frege does rst consider using Latin letters to express generality. But his explanation of this proposed expression of generality neither invokes the condition stroke (not introduced until 12), nor does it mention the subordination of concepts. In fact, it reads very much like the semantic explanation of the universal quantier in quanticational logic. Moreover, in 8 Frege immediately goes on to reject this proposal of using Latin letters to express generality, for the same reason as the one advanced in Begriffsschrift: by this stipulation the scope of the generality would not be well enough demarcated; in particular, this stipulation fails to distinguish the negation of the generality from the generality of the negation (GG 41). The device Frege introduces to express these distinct types of thoughts is the concavity with German letters. After setting out how the relative scopes of the concavity and negation affect the thoughts expressed, Frege goes on to set up the denition of generality thus:
a (a) is to denote the True if for every argument the value of the function () is the True, and otherwise is to denote the False . . . . (GG 42)

Here it certainly looks as if The concavity and German letters are notations introduced specically to express generality.

C-generalities are explained in exactly the same way as the corresponding L-generalities. The explanation is quanticational. MacBeth does specically address the point that Freges explanation, which she calls elucidation, of his expression(s) of generality seems to be quanticational. She offers an account of why he does this, in terms of judgeability conditions:
Freges elucidations in Begriffsschrift . . . are elucidations of judgments, that is, of sentences to which the judgment stroke has been attached. This suggests that Freges elucidations concern acts of acknowledging the truth of various contents, not merely those contents themselves; it suggests that they are not so much clarications of the contents expressed . . . as clarications of the judgeability conditions of judgments of various forms in Begriffsschrift. This reading is suggested by the fact that in Begriffsschrift Freges elucidations are invariably of sentential signs to which the judgment stroke has been attached. It is further reinforced by the fact that in his elucidation of logically general sentences of Begriffsschrift Frege does not employ his Latin italic letters . . . but instead the concavity notation. (32-4)

But as the passages just quoted show, in the mature logic of Grundgesetze, the same elucidation is given to both L- and C-generalities. The point that Frege elucidates both L- and C-generalities quanticationally is reinforced by the way in which Frege ofcially introduce Latin letters in Grundgesetze 17, after he has already explained the concavity:
Now let us look to see how the inference called Barbara in logic ts into our scheme. From the two sentences, All square roots of 1 are fourth roots of 1 and All fourth roots of 1 are eighth roots of 1, we can infer All square roots of 1 are eighth roots of 1. Now if we write the premisses in this way: a4 = 1 a2 = 1 a8 = 1 a4 = 1


then we cannot apply our methods of inference. We can, however, if we write them thus: x4 = 1 x2 = 1 x8 = 1 x4 = 1


Here we have the case of 15. Already earlier [in 8] we made an attempt to express generality in this way by the use of a Latin letter, but we left off again, because we observed that the scope of the

generality was not well enough demarcated. We now meet this objection by stipulating that in the case of a Latin letter the scope shall comprise everything that occurs in the proposition with the exception of the judgment-stroke. Accordingly with a Latin letter we cannot ever express the negation of a generality, but we can express the generality of a negation. Thus no ambiguity is any longer present. However, we see that the expression of generality by Gothic letters and the concavity does not thereby become superuous. Our stipulation regarding the scope of a Latin letter is to set only a lower bound upon the scope, not an upper bound. Thus it remains permissible to extend such a scope over several propositions, and this renders the Latin letters suitable to do duty in inferences, which the Gothic letters, with the strict closure of their scopes, cannot. If we have the premisses x4 = 1 and x8 = 1 and x4 = 1 x2 = 1 infer the proposition x = 1, in making the transition we extend the scope of the x over both of

x2 = 1 the premisses and the conclusion, in order to perform the inference, although each of these propositions still holds good apart from this extension. (GG 65-66)

A straightforward reading of this text is that Freges main motivation for using Latin letters is to enable inferences like Barbara to be carried out in his logic. Frege does not claim that only L-generalities are suitable to do duty in inference; rather, it is only in certain types of inferences that these formulas are suitable to do duty, and then only given the stipulation that their scope may extend over several propositions. More importantly, lets consider how Frege carries out the Barbara inference in the passage just cited. He does it in two stages: rst he instantiates the C-generalities that are the premises, to obtain corresponding L-generalities, then he applies the method of inference set out in 15. (He does not explicitly say that one nal stage is required to reach the C-generality of the conclusion of Barbara from the L-generality obtained as the conclusion in the second stage.) He then argues that the method of inference of 15 is applicable to the L-generalities, if we stipulate that all the Latin letters of the two L-generalities are in a single scope. If Freges logic is quanticational, this procedure has an obvious reading: the rst stage is universal instantiation, the second stage is truth-functional reasoning(, and the nal tacit step would be universal generalization). Scope is brought in because all variables in the same scope must be assigned the same object, and the inference of 15 is validly applicable only if the two universal instantiations use the same variable of instantiation and all free occurrences of this variable in the open sentences that result are assigned the same object; this is why Frege claims that the scope of the Latin letter extends over several propositions. It is unclear how to read this passage on MacBeths view that Latin letters are not free variables and L-generalities express subordination of concepts. 5. Freges Latin letters are not free variables. MacBeth is aware that her interpretation runs into the problem just described. Her response is in effect to claim that there is a tension in Freges views, because while Grundgesetze 15 appears to go against her view, there is also a great deal of evidence in Freges writings that . . . Begriffsschrift Latin italic letters do not function as free variables (60). Still, she claims that on Freges most carefully considered, overall view (62) neither Latin letters nor the concavity is conceived quanticationally. As far as I can tell, she offers two main pieces of evidence against taking Latin letters to be free variables. First, MacBeth claims that free variables have to understood as symbols that are systematically ambiguous; such a variable must refer to a particular object, but nevertheless to no object in particular (61). But,
In his later writings . . . Frege seems explicitly and categorically to reject the idea of such ambiguous symbols in logic: it is absolutely ruled out that a sign be equivocal or ambiguous (PW 237). Where

they do not stand for an unknown, letters in arithmetic have the role of conferring generality of content on sentences, not of designating a variable number; for there are no variable numbers (PW 237). . . . In a properly logical language, Frege comes to think, a designating symbol, whether it be an object name, a concept word, or a sign for a logical function, must designate somethingthat is, some one thingin particular. Free variables do not designate some one thing in particular, and they cannot if they are to play their logical role in proofs of universally quantied sentences. (61)

I agree with the attributions of views to Frege in this passage. What I fail to see is why they are incompatible with the contemporary understanding of free variables. It seems to me that MacBeths main mistake is to think that the contemporary conception is the same as Russells: a free variable is a symbol that designates or refers, but does so in a systematically ambiguous way. This is simply not how free variables need be understood. On the contemporary conception, free variables are not referring expressions at all. Rather, they play a role in determining the truth conditions of universally quantied statements through the notion of an assignment. Specically, consider a general statement such as Everything is , where abbreviates some logically complex condition, paraphrased into quanticational notation as the statement (x)(x). What are the conditions in which it is true? According to the contemporary conception they are: whatever entity is assigned to the variable x, the open sentence (x) is true. And the truth or falsity of the open sentence (x) under an assignment to x is xed by facts about whether the object assigned to x are members of the extensions of the predicates making up the logically complex condition . In all of this, x does not name or designate any of the objects assigned to it, nor does it express a sense, a condition that has to be fullled for something to be its referent. Rather, x functions simply to specify how the truth conditions of a generalization depends on objects from the domain of quantication. Second, MacBeth claims:
If [a Latin italic letter] were functioning as a variable, it would have a function in relation to [a] part [of a sentence]; indeed, that is the essential role of a variable, to confer content on the part in a way that enables the logic of truth-functions to be applied to a sentence containing it. Yet Frege denies that his Latin italic letters function in this way. On his view, a conditional written using Latin italic letters expresses a single thought which cannot be divided into component thoughts (CP 309; see also CP 171). Because they have no function at all in relation to the part, because they serve to confer generality only over a (conditional) sentence as a whole, Latin italic letters of Begriffsschrift seem not to be functioning as variables. (63)

Here is the quotation from Frege that she gives to substantiate this interpretation:
We cannot . . . split up the sentence expressing the general thought without making the parts senseless. For the letter ais meant to confer generality of content upon the whole sentence, not on its clauses. With a is greater than 2 we no longer have a part expressing a thought: it neither expresses a thought that is true nor one that is false, because a is neither meant to designate an object as does a proper name, nor to confer generality of content upon this part. It has no function at all in relation to the part. (PW 190)

But all of this is consistent with the way in which free variables function in quanticational logic. Lets consider the quanticational paraphrase of the sentence Frege uses as an example in this text (at PW 189), (a)(a is greater than 2 a+1 is greater than 2). As just explained above, this statement is true just in case a is greater than 2 a + 1 is greater than 2 10

is true no matter what object is assigned to a. The important point here is that the assignment to a has to be the same throughout the entire sentence. That is to say, the truth condition is not: If a is greater than 2 is true no matter what object is assigned to a, then a+1 is greater than 2 is true no matter what object is assigned to a. That is to say again, if the open sentence that is generalized is logically complex, then, its truth conditions are not given by considering free variable assignments to parts of that open sentence independently of the remaining parts. In quanticational logic, free variable assignments confer generality in the sense of playing a role in giving the truth conditions of generalizations. So now we see that in quanticational logic a free variable does not confer generality of content upon [a] part of a logically complex open sentence that is being generalized, just as Frege says in the last quoted passage. And, of course, an open sentence is indeed by itself neither true nor false without an assignment to the free variables occurring in it. Note, in addition, that one can accept MacBeths claim that the essential role of a variable [is] to confer content on the part in a way that enables the logic of truth-functions to be applied to a sentence containing it, without accepting that anything Frege says in the quoted passage denies that [Freges] Latin italic letters function in this way. It should be clear why. As my emphases show, what Frege denies is that generality of content is conferred on a part; but that denial, as I have just argued, can be understood as deriving from the fact that free variable assignments must not be made to each part independently of the other parts. In addition to arguing that Frege was committed to not taking Latin letters as free variables, MacBeth also argues for a reading of Grundgesetze 17 consistent with her theory that L-generalities express subordination of concepts. If the L-generality inference which is the second stage of how Frege carries out Barbara is
an instance of the rule in 15, it is so not in virtue of the (presumed) role the conditional stroke and variables play in Begriffsschrift (as on the standard reading) but instead in virtue of the fact that the conditional stroke together with Begriffsschrift Latin italic letters enables the expression of relations among concepts. Barbara, on this view, is an inference form that functions at the level of concepts . . . , and hypothetical syllogism is an inference that functions at the level of whole sentences or truth-values . . . . What Frege shows . . . is that these are nonetheless inferences of the same fundamental form. (69)

But again lets look at what Frege actually says in 15 to explain his second method of inference. After stating the method:
From the two propositions ( we may infer the proposition . (GG 58) and (

Frege writes,
For is the False only if is the True and is not the True. But if is the True then too must be the True, for otherwise would be the False. But if is the True then if were not the True then would be the False. Hence the case of s being the False cannot arise; and is the True. (GG 58)


Since this last passage begins with For, it is surely most naturally understood as giving reasons for the correctness of this method of inference. The remainder of the passage gives the reasons in terms of how the truth and falsity of any instances of these conditional statement schemata are a function of the truth and falsity of their components. If Barbara and hypothetical syllogism are inferences of the same form, the explanation of the correctness of this form of inference surely must apply to both of them. Freges actual explanation applies to hypothetical syllogism only if the components of the L-generalities that compose this inference denote the True or the False. This is unproblematic if the Latin letters occurring in all the L-generalities are free variables to which an object (the same one) has been assigned. But if these letters are not free variables, then we are at least owed an account of why, according to Frege, the inference is correct. We would also want to know why Frege never explicitly gives an explanation of the correctness of the second method of inference applicable to L-generalities. 6. Sentences of quanticational languages state truth conditions, while sentences of Begriffsschrift do not. As we have seen above, MacBeths reason for this thesis seems to depend on the assumption that to state truth conditions is to say something about a logical subject. But is this thesis essential to the quanticational conception of truth conditions? Is it Freges conception of truth conditions? Lets consider MacBeths sample sentence, Romeo loves Juliet. If it is conceived of as a sentence of a quanticational language, then its truth conditions are as follows: it is true just in case the ordered pair <Romeo, Juliet>, where Romeo is the denotation of Romeo and Juliet is the denotation of Juliet, is a member of the extension of the two-place predicate loves . It seems to me that MacBeth is simply wrong to take this account to be committed to the notion of a logical subject described in some way. A truth condition in a quanticational language is simply a specication of how the semantic values of the expressions composing a sentence have to be mutually related in order for the sentence to be true. Indeed, so far as I can tell, nothing bars us from thinking of such a specication as showing us how things stand [i.e., how semantic values must be related] if [the sentence] is true (44). 7. L-generalities display the subordination of concepts and provide inference licenses. On MacBeths view, that an L-generality displays conceptual subordination is closely tied to the claim that it in no way involves reference to objects. But she evidently also holds that it licenses an inference from a true thought that an object a falls under one concept to the thought that a falls under another concept. But surely both of these thoughts refer to an object. So, how does an expression that makes no reference to any objects show us the correctness of an inference involving objects? Now, MacBeth, very plausibly, takes a Fregean rst-level concept to be a law of correlation that maps objects onto truth-values (74). On the basis of this account of rst-level concepts we can characterize what it is for a concept F to be subordinate to a concept G: the objects correlated to the True by F are also correlated to the True by G. This characterization does make it clearer how the obtaining of a relation of subordination licenses the inference from F a to Ga. But now the relation of rst-level concept subordination depends on features of objects after all; in particular, no two concepts can fall into this relation unless certain conditions involving objects are fullled. Of course, MacBeth might insist that the dependence of subordination on objects neither implies nor is implied by her claim that an L-generality does not involve reference to objects, because her claim is simply that no expression in an L-generality is an object-referring expression. But exactly the same holds of a conditional open sentence, so what differentiates L-generalities from conditional open sentences? 8. Freges Sinn/Bedeutung distinction is motivated by seeing that inferential content goes beyond truth conditions. MacBeths thinks her view, in contrast to the standard one, shows why Sinn is a logical, as opposed to cognitive, notion. As we have seen above, she thinks that Fjand Fk have the same truth conditions if j=k, but different inferential contents. Her example suggests that evidence for the latter difference is the fact that 12


If Fj, then Gm Fj Gm

is valid, but (2) If Fj, then Gm Fk Gm is not. So it seems that she must believe that only recourse to a notion of inferential content distinct from truth conditions would sufce to account for this difference. But there is an explanation of the difference purely in terms of rst-order quanticational logic. In quanticational logic a valid argument schema is dened as one in which every interpretation that veries the premise-schemata also veries the conclusion-schema. Considered as an argument schema, (1) is valid on this denition because every interpretation is constrained to assign a single member of the domain to both occurrences of j, while (2) is invalid because there exist interpretations in which j and k are assigned different members of the domain. So, to the extent that quanticational logic trades in truth conditions, I do not why we need to go beyond truth conditions to explain this difference in inferential content. As mentioned above, one possible account of MacBeths view of Sinn is that it includes Truth conditions and valid rules of inference. Now, does this mean that the validity of rules of inference is entirely independent of the truth conditions of the thoughts to which they apply? But validity is truistically related to truth: no rule of inference could be valid that leads from truths to falsehoods. Indeed, this intuition seems to underlie MacBeths claim that a single counter-example sufces to invalidate a supposed inference license. A widely accepted philosophical theory based on this truism is that the validity of rules of inference depends on the ways in which the truth conditions of sentences of various logical structures are fullled. Indeed, MacBeth herself seems to accept something like this theory. She claims that grasp of the Truth conditions of Begriffsschrift sentences requires grasp of the functions designated by the basic combinations of the primitive signs . . . and the role Latin italic letters play in lending generality of content (133). And, once one has understood these functions, one ought to be able to see that all the basic laws of Begriffsschrift are correct judgment[s] (133). Since these laws are the bases for all purely logical inferences, does it not follow that what rules of inference are correct is based, ultimately, on the contributions made by the primitive logical signs to the Truth conditions of the sentences in which they occur? But then isnt inferential content ultimately reducible to Truth conditions? To sum up, while I applaud MacBeths efforts to offer a fresh reading of Frege, it seems me that there are too many unanswered questions about her interpretation for it to constitute a compelling alternative to the received view.