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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 61, Issue 1, March 2021

Timothy Perrine
Pages 5-25

Arithmetic, Logicism, and Frege’s Definitions

This paper describes an exegetical puzzle that lies at the heart of Frege’s writings—how to reconcile his logicism with his definitions and claims about his definitions. It also reviews two interpretations that try to resolve this puzzle: the “explicative interpretation” and the “analysis interpretation.” This paper defends the explicative interpretation and critiques the careful and sophisticated defenses of the analysis interpretation given by Michael Dummett and Patricia Blanchette. Specifically, I argue that Frege’s texts either are inconsistent with the analysis interpretation or do not support it. I also defend the explicative interpretation from the recent charge that it cannot make sense of Frege’s logicism. While I do not provide the explicative interpretation’s full solution to the puzzle, I show that its main competitor is seriously problematic.

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