Frege’s Unmanageable Thing

In: Grazer Philosophische Studien

Frege famously maintained that concepts are not objects. A key argument of Frege’s for this view is, in outline, as follows: if we are to account for the unity of thought, concepts must be deemed unsaturated; since objects are, by contrast, saturated entities, concepts cannot be objects. The author investigates what can be made of this argument and, in particular, of the unsaturated/saturated distinction it invokes. Systematically exploring a range of reconstructions suggested by Frege’s writings, and drawing on contemporary work, the author illustrates that no plausible reconstruction is forthcoming. In essence, it is altogether unclear how to simultaneously substantiate, on the one hand, the claim that unsaturated entities must be recognized in order to account for unity and, on the other, the claim that unsaturatedness is incompatible with objecthood.

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