Comparing Frege And Russell's View On Proper Names

1687 Words Nov 20th, 2015 7 Pages
It is plausible to think of Frege and Russell as both being descriptivists about proper names. In what sense is that so? Why do they accept descriptivism? On the other hand, the two theories are very different. How so? Do you think Russell 's view or Frege 's view is superior?


Gottob Frege and Bertrand Russell are descriptivists, this is apparent with regard to proper names. I demonstrate how their theories are different from each other with respect to proper names, sentences and their ability to resolve the problems of subsitutivity and negative existentials. I argue that Russell’s theory is superior as it can handle negative existentials but that it is also subject to problems as demonstrated by Wittgenstein and Searle.

Frege makes a distinction between claims of the form a=a and a=b. The former is a priori true while the latter is not, it may require investigation or knowledge that is not tautological. Frege argues that there is a difference in cognitive value (Frege, 1948). This is demonstrated by the difference between Smith is Smith and Smith is Jones’s father. Frege is a descriptivist about proper names in that he thinks the individual has a descriptive sense of a proper name. A proper name will refer to some distinct object such as a person or a place. So the individual is capable of grasping this referent through a specific detailed thought, the sense is then a way for the individual to access the referent; it is a mode of presentation…
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