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The Ontology of the Analytic Tradition and Its Origins: Realism and Identity in Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and Quine

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Free book download. Corrected to 2003. Seven recommendations. Over 535 paper copies sold. Over 1,000 reads here. PRAISE 1: "Jan Dejnožka is one of the leading figures in current discussions of the origin, development, and nature of analytic philosophy. His many works -- two books and numerous articles -- have received much attention. They are noteworthy for their depth and erudition. The Ontology of the Analytic Tradition has achieved, deservedly, the status of a classic in that area. I regard this book as a most important contribution to our understanding of the course of analytic philosophy from Frege to Quine, as well as to our philosophical understanding of the topics mentioned in its title. " --Panayot Butchvarov. PRAISE 2: "Dejnožka's account is at once comprehensive and detailed, historically accurate and philosophically acute, profound and clear. Those interested in the metaphysical foundations of analytic philosophy will find it very useful. So will ontologists generally." --Stewart Umphrey. PRAISE 3: "This work is simultaneously a scholarly investigation and interpretation of four of the most important thinkers in the analytic tradition, and a sustained critique of contemporary relativisms. Dejnožka argues that not only Frege and Russell, but such 'antimetaphysical' philosophers as Wittgenstein and Quine do in fact have metaphysical commitments which can be traced not only to Russell and Frege, but to a long and distinguished tradition within Western philosophy. This is a provocative and challenging reading of the analytic tradition." --Evan Fales. PRAISE 4: "Dejnožka's superb expertise on Frege and Russell inevitably must be stressed. But his book is not 'mere history'; there are many sharp criticisms of major contemporaries." --José Benardete. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 1: "A desirable feature of the book is that the Preface and Introduction provide the reader with a clear statement of the overall plan of the work, together with the major concepts and distinctions which will be used throughout. Consequently the reader knows, at any point, exactly where he/she is in the development of the main argument. Combined with a precise, transparent style of writing, the book is a treat to read. Particularly impressive are the novel insights and deeper interpretations which the author gives of the four analysts.... An extensive bibliography and reasonably comprehensive index round off a fine thought-provoking piece of research." --Wayne A. Patterson, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75/4, December 1997, 543-44. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 2: "[W]hat is still rightly regarded as the analytic tradition has indeed not only turned back to more traditional metaphysical concerns..., but also taken an interest, self-reflectively, in its own historical roots, with the expectation of uncovering metaphysical conceptions at work....Jan Dejnožka's book is a fine example of this historically motivated return to metaphysics, offering a detailed and scholarly elucidation of the ontological views of Frege and Russell...." --Michael Beaney, International Journal of Philosophical Studies 6/3, October 1998, 451-54. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 3: "Throughout the text, Dejnožka exhibits both a broad appreciation of ontological issues, and an even deeper appreciation of the primary and secondary literature.... In conclusion, it is more than fair to say that Dejnožka offers a daring re-reading of the analytic tradition which, if it stands in the face of scholarly criticism, could force both a long overdue reassessment of how analytic philosophy since Frege relates to the historical and contemporary continental traditions, and a reconsideration of the prevailing analytic conception of metaphysics as dependent on semantics.... [M]any challenging ideas and innovative interpretations await the earnest reader on each page." --Bob Barnard, Bertrand Russell Society Quarterly 100, November 1998, 33-35. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 4: "This is a very ambitious book, executed with intelligence and argumentative skill." --Arthur Falk, Russell n.s. 18, Winter 1998-99, 161-74. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 5: "[S]cholarly and detailed....Analysts and relativists might very well use it to hone their own conceptions." --Jack Kaminsky, International Studies in Philosophy 35/4, 2003, 221-22. FROM PUBLISHED REVIEW 6: "There are surprisingly few books that would take a synthesizing view of analytical philosophy. However, it is also true that in the second half of our century the body of philosophers who either avow analytical philosophy or tend to be included in the number of its representatives exhibit a degree of heterogeneity which makes any synthesis problematic; indeed, there is also a surprising dearth of synthesizing studies of classical analytical philosophy, i.e., analytical philosophy covering the period from about the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. Dejnožka's book is one of the few that do venture a thing like that, and that is a welcome thing to do.... Of course, Dejnožka is not out to present an all-round analysis of the views held by the classics of analytical philosophy; he will concentrate on only one aspect of their doctrine, namely their ontology.... Dejnožka's book represents an imposing volume of factographic material, quite a few interesting interpretational hypotheses (relating to particular philosophers under study and to analytical philosophy as a whole) as well as detailed polemics with many authors, whose views might seem to question those hypotheses.... To sum up, Dejnožka's book contains a wealth of remarkable material relative to the classical period of analytical philosophy (mainly Frege and Russell)...." -Jaroslav Peregrin, Filosofický Časopis 49/4, 2001, 701-6. (translated from Czech). COMPLETE PUBLISHED REVIEW 7: "A new book by the American philosopher Jan Dejnožka (*1951, Saratoga Springs, NY) approaches analytic philosophy from positions that the very same analytic philosophy attempted to – at least in its beginnings – vehemently refute and disprove; that is, from the positions of ontology and metaphysics. Dejnožka’s ontological thinking is based on traditional metaphysics; however, that thinking is enlightened by the analytic tradition. The result is a difficult, yet remarkable reading. The terms ‘ontology’ and ‘metaphysics’ appear in in a variety of meanings. Dejnožka does not consider them synonymous: ‘Ontology is a theory … of what it is to be’ (page xxv), whereas metaphysics is the ‘theory of the ultimate categories of things’ (page 7). Ontology is thus transcategorial. The fundamental thesis of the book is that a certain type of ontology is common to the analytic philosophy tradition represented by Bertrand Russell (from 1900 to 1948), Gottlob Frege, Ludwig Wittgenstein and W. V. O. Quine, and that the same type of ontology has also been foundational to substance metaphysics since its beginnings over two thousand years ago. This type is the so-called ‘no entity without identity’ ontology (hereinafter shortened to ‘NEWI’). Dejnožka gives this term, borrowed from Quine’s book Ontological Relativity, a rather more general meaning [than Quine does], namely, ‘any theory on which some expression, conception or property of existence is defined, understood or applied in terms of some expression, conception or property (or relation) of identity’. A more specific type of ontology, under which the authors of the analytic tradition considered by Dejnožka fall, is ‘modified realism’. This is defined as the view that there are ‘both real and rational (or linguistic) identities’ (albeit these rational or linguistic identities are ‘real in a muted sense’) (page 25). The alternatives are radical realism, which sharply dichotomizes real and unreal (fictitious) identities, and radical relativism, on which all identities are merely conceptual. Using the NEWI theory, he then classifies entities according to this identity classification. The actual content of the book is a detailed application of this conceptual apparatus to texts written by analytic philosophers, in particular Frege and Russell. Dejnožka’s analyses are extremely meticulous; for instance, at different stages of Russell’s intellectual development Dejnožka finds, documents and discusses forty-four versions of the NEWI ontology. All that is supplemented with comparisons and polemics with views of other interpreters of the classics of analytic philosophy. The passages dealing with Wittgenstein and Quine are more succinct. According to Dejnožka, even Quine is a modified realist, despite his thesis of translational indeterminacy (which concerns only rational, not real distinctions) (page 206). It is worth mentioning, on the other hand, that Dejnožka considers Quine’s mentor and inspiration Rudolf Carnap to be a ‘genuine radical relativist’: by rejecting external questions in the article Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology, Carnap commits himself to rejecting not only real but also conceptual and linguistic identities. Neither Carnap’s theses of methodological phenomenalism nor methodological physicalism are forms of modified realism (page 264). Dejnožka’s book is without doubt a profound and valuable contribution to an analysis of (not only) Frege’s and Russell’s philosophical points of view. At the same time, his conceptual apparatus enables him to bridge the chasm that was, at least seemingly, left by the philosophy of the linguistic turn between itself and the philosophical tradition; and in this way to demonstrate the evolutionary unity that remains hidden in the background." --David Hollan, B Philosophica 44, 1997, 89-90. (translated from Czech). BOOK DESCRIPTION: Again, this is the 2003 reprint with complete minor corrections. Being qua identity ("no entity without identity") ontology is explored in all four great analysts. The book upends the then-almost universal belief that the analytical school of philosophy is anti-metaphysical. Book correction dated March 5, 2021: page 267, line 23: "physical objects are less real than abstract objects" should be "physical objects are more real than abstract objects". An independent sequel book, _Essays on the Ontological Distinctions: Suárez, Descartes, and Russell_, published in September 2020, is also a free download on ResearchGate.
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... one of the advantages of the ontological level is that an unwanted formal property for a predicate may trigger a knowledge elicitation process: [...] if student sounds strange when used as a characterising [rigid] predicate, the reason may be that we have forgotten to include human-being within our axiomatisation [1] Agents' meaning judgements are intensional, insofar they span over structures of possible worlds, but are ultimately grounded in extensional truth-making: two different agents [...] will share the same meaning of "cooperating" [a binary relation] if, in presence of the same world states, will pick up the same couples as instances of the cooperates-with relation [10] In the setting outlined above, insofar as they are used to foster consistent interpretations of concepts across technical communities sharing the same business domain, ontologies should provide a sort of semantic heuristic (interpretation guideline). However, formal ontology inherits from the tradition of analytical philosophy, which is mostly concerned with meta-level investigations of natural language practices, thus qualifying as a descriptive framework (ex-post) [11]. In this philosophy, formal properties informing linguistic acts are put in connection with the reality (be it physical, mental, or social) in which agents interact with each other, and even for authors accustomed to rephrasing natural sentences to highlight underlying onto-logical forms, language is in order as it is 8 . ...
... Basically, the Semantic Web implements a distributed integration model. Although the W3C allows individuals and organizations to populate a namespace of Universal Resources Identifiers (URI) 11 , the Consortium, by policy, does not dictate, recommend or overtly endorse any coherent and comprehensive collection of general ontologies. Google's Knowledge Graph, in contrast, features a centralized integration pattern, because it assumes the worldwide adoption of a single conceptual model. ...
... The use of formal ontology in information systems involves a sort of descriptive metaphysics 15 , that is, a second-order account of linguistic (in the broad sense of socially grounded) conceptualizations. The vision that, when used outside the boundaries where it has been conceived, such a formal characterization would make a software conceptual model interpretatively cogent, can be enrolled in the realistic vein of the analytic tradition [11]. Basically, the idea is that linguistic concepts are bound to essences which lie beyond language, and this binding (adaequatio rei et intellectus) has a definite direction: interpretation should eventually conform to reality. ...
Chapter
After the work of Nicola Guarino, formal ontology is available today as a powerful conceptual tool for information systems modelling. In particular, for shared conceptual models, the ontological characterization of predicative symbols may help clarifying their intended semantics. Yet, about twenty five years after Guarino's seminal paper, the penetration of formal ontological tools in modelling languages, as well as the spread of highly formalized conceptual models in business information systems, is still relatively low. This paper aims at elaborating some hypotheses about this fact. Concrete conditions for stipulating semantic agreements, depending on socio-technical architectures, are compared with assumptions of descriptive metaphysics as implemented in today's ontology engineering. As an outcome of this analysis, a clearer separation between linguistic concepts produced in human semiotic processes and metaphysic postulates emerges as a key move for overcoming difficulties and open the way to further developments.
... Broadly speaking, formal ontology, introduced by Edmund Husserl and developed through the tradition of Nineteenth Century's metaphysics [4], can be seen as a meta-level characterization of descriptive first-order languages. For instance, one could mark a concept (say, Person) as RIGID (a prominent ontological meta-property) to characterize the fact that: ...
Chapter
Ontologies are supposed to address the problem of making information systems’ conceptual models shareable and understandable. Most often, however, ontologies are nothing but structured lexical resources, which bring with them the classic problem behind natural language meanings: how to make sure that names and predicates are consistently interpreted all through the information sphere? Here is where formal ontology comes to play. In fact, the ‘ontological level’ [1, 3] is where, thanks to formal constraints (meaning axioms), unintended models (spurious interpretations) should be cut off. Yet, interpreting well-founded, highly formalized ontologies is far from trivial, and does not come for free. What makes ontology so difficult in practice? How to make concepts understandable and alleviate the burden of mapping strict ontological specifications with business data? This short paper will provide a brief overview on common issues when working with formal ontology and how to address them in practice, and will give some hint on effective usages of highly formalized shared conceptual models for business information systems.
... Thus Frege need not provide any principled solution to Russell's paradox in order to preserve logicism. See my (2003( , 100), pace Dummett (1991. Of course, my second and third suggestions are principled in preventive ways. ...
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Free download. Two recommendations. Over 130 reads. In his reply, Michael Dummett very kindly says, "Thus, I recant my earlier view and am now in full agreement with Jan Dejnožka that senses—even thoughts—cannot be objects. He deserves credit for perceiving this....The whole apparatus of objects, concepts, and functions is inapplicable in the realm of sense. Dr. Dejnožka perceives this too....I think now that Frege ought to have held that view, and I applaud Dr. Dejnožka's recognition of this." —Michael Dummett, "Reply to Jan Dejnožka," pp. 122-23. My paper and his reply both appear in Randall E. Auxier and Lewis Edwin Hahn, eds., _The Philosophy of Michael Dummett_ (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court), August 2007, The Library of Living Philosophers series. Abstract: My paper is on Michael Dummett's paper, "The Context Principle: Centre of Frege's Philosophy" (read in 1993, published in 1995), in which Dummett revises his thinking on Frege. But my paper is really on Frege. I argue that Dummett's semantic program for Frege rests on a scholarly and philosophical mistake. Namely, it takes what Russell calls the backward road from reference to sense. I argue that Dummett's semantic program implies the backward road. This is regardless of whether he thinks it does, and regardless of whether he "officially" or in fact accepts or rejects that there is a backward road in Frege's semantics (in other texts he appears to reject it). Thus I must show that the mistake is genuine. That is, I must show that there is no backward road in Frege. But I need not enter the murky waters of Russell's "On Denoting" to show or explain that. (Russell briefly discusses Frege, but Russell's own argument against a backward road is notoriously difficult to interpret; see my ontology book, pp. 275-277.) For I make the mistake independently clear simply by examining Frege himself. After arguing that no senses are objects or functions, I show how we can keep Frege's context principle from bifurcating into one principle for senses and another for references. I conclude by showing that intuitionism is a form of the backward road and shares in the mistake. I also briefly argue in a note (pages 103-104) that Russell's paradox is really an unimportant technical detail that should not prevent us from being logicists in principle, especially since there are already several well-known technical solutions. (On September 27, 2019, I became aware that my view in the paper is really that the solutions are just what Copi calls "precising definitions," which are often a practical necessity in technical work. They do not try to capture the original meaning of the term being defined, but only to let us proceed without technical difficulties. Thus my argument in the paper against the importance of Russell's paradox is methodological at bottom, and is fairly standard in conception, even though, as far as I know, this is a major new application of the precising definition methodology to the solutions of Russell's paradox. No one solution need be right or even the best, so long as it avoids the paradox.) I have already noted that due to the present paper, Dummett came to recant his own view and agree with me on a fundamental point of interpreting Frege. But I also say in my paper that I agree with most of what he says on Frege, and that he will always be the world's best Frege scholar to me. I also say he did more than anyone to bring Frege to his rightful place in philosophy. This includes Russell, Wittgenstein, and Carnap (and for that matter, everyone else) combined. They all praised Frege highly, but said very little about him. They pointed the way, but Dummett was the one who put Frege on the map. Dummett wrote several huge volumes devoted to Frege and explaining Frege's thought, and thus pretty much single-handedly brought Frege to the attention of the philosophical world. Again, I agree with most of what Dummett says about Frege. Our disagreements, though deep, are few, and all of them are discussed in my publications. My continuation of Dummett's and my Open Court discussion is entitles "Dummett's Forward Road to Frege and to Intuition." It was published in Diametros in 2010, and it too is here on my ResearchGate page. I asked the managing editor of Open Court to send Dummett a copy of "Forward Road," and I am certain that she promptly did, but I do not know if he was able to read it before he died the next year.
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Free download. Four recommendations. Over 25 reads. This paper continues Michael Dummett’s and my discussion of Frege’s senses in The Philosophy of Michael Dummett (2007), which was already continued in Diametros (2010). In his 2007 reply to my 2007 paper, Dummett came to agree with me that senses are neither objects nor functions, since they have a categorially different kind of linguistico-metaphysical function to perform. He then asks how we might quantify over senses, if they are neither objects nor functions. He discusses two main options, and finds one unviable and the other “very un-Fregean.” I then offer a Fregean or neo-Fregean option in my 2010 Diametros paper. And I still hold that my 2010 way out will do the job, or is at least plausible enough that the burden of persuasion is on those who disagree. But I hope to show in this paper that on a more complete examination of Frege, there are at least twenty Fregean or neo-Fregean ways out, with my 2010 way out being option (17). The paper was published online on March 20, 2022, and appeared in print on March 31, 2022.
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Free download. Two recommendations. Over 45 reads. This would have been better entitled "Russell Against the Materialist Principle of Logically Possible Worlds," since as I explain in the paper, Russell was no materialist and could not have held such a principle. In his review in Organon F, Martin Vacek knows that the second edition of my Bertrand Russell on Modality and Logical Relevance (xv + 649 pages) has a difficult mission of revealing two previously unsuspected major new dimensions in a great thinker whose work has already been investigated for over a century. Vacek has a fine understanding of the book, and expresses only a few doubts about its success. I explain away his doubts as misunderstandings. I show that Russell’s talk of modality and possible worlds is neither circular nor incomplete. Vacek's Armstrongian materialist principle is that all logically possible worlds are (possible) distributions of matter in space-time. I argue that that the materialist principle can be true only for materialists (idealists, dualists, and monists would all reject it, since they would all accept infinitely many possible worlds that have no matter), and that Russell was never a materialist. Therefore while materialists can consistently accept the materialist principle, Russell would reject it as incompatible with his metaphysics at every stage of his philosophical development.
Chapter
In this chapter, I analyze the notion of corporate responsibility from the person- centric perspective. I offer a four-dimensional exposition in terms of which I examine the corporate moral personhood view. These four dimensions are explained and critiqued to arrive at a definition of moral responsibility and status appropriate to corporations. I suggest that a corporation cannot be construed as a person in the sense in which individuals are persons.Since a corporation cannot be an independently existing entity, it cannot have an independent moral personality of its own as individual persons have.Therefore, I argue that a reasonable construal of corporate moral personhood has to exploit a different point of view altogether. With this difference of standpoint, I develop what is called the institutional personhood view. I argue that corporations do acquire a sort of collective institutional moral personality.
Article
Reply to Beaney: the closing of the historical mindIn his comments, Michael Beaney sets himself up as the arbiter of what is genuine history and what isn’t. While celebrating the outpouring of specialized scholarship on Frege, he has no patience with the enterprise outlined in the Précis, which attempts to construct a large-scale picture of the richness of the analytic tradition. That enterprise is one in which great figures of our recent past are challenged by aspects of contemporary thought, and our current struggles are enriched by insights of theirs that haven’t been fully absorbed. Although some work of this sort can be done piecemeal, one historical figure at a time, there is much to be learned from a more encompassing perspective. While no picture constructed by a single author can be authoritative about everything, the attempt to give informative, connected assessments of major milestones in the tradition is our best hope of understanding who we are and where we have come from.
Book
Ontology was once understood to be the philosophical inquiry into the structure of reality: the analysis and categorization of 'what there is'. Recently, however, a field called 'ontology' has become part of the rapidly growing research industry in information technology. The two fields have more in common than just their name. Theory and Applications of Ontology is a two-volume anthology that aims to further an informed discussion about the relationship between ontology in philosophy and ontology in information technology. It fills an important lacuna in cutting-edge research on ontology in both fields, supplying stage-setting overview articles on history and method, presenting directions of current research in either field, and highlighting areas of productive interdisciplinary contact. Theory and Applications of Ontology: Philosophical Perspectives presents ontology in philosophy in ways that computer scientists are not likely to find elsewhere. The volume offers an overview of current research traditions in ontology, contrasting analytical, phenomenological, and hermeneutic approaches. It introduces the reader to current philosophical research on those categories of everyday and scientific reasoning that are most relevant to present and future research in information technology.
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