Neo-Fregean Meta-Ontology: Just Don't Ask Too Many Questions

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According to neo-Fregeans, an expression that is syntactically singular and figures in a true sentence is guaranteed to have some existing thing in the world to pick out. But this approach is confronted by a dilemma. If reality is crystalline, has a structure fixed independently of language, then the view that reality is guaranteed to contain a sufficient plenitude of objects to supply referents for the relevant expressions is left hostage to cosmological fortune. Whereas if reality is plastic then it becomes dubiously coherent to conceive of our ordinary, scientific, and mathematical claims about a diversity of objects as being genuinely true or false of an independent reality. To avoid this dilemma, the neo-Fregeans must abandon the dichotomy that says either our true sentences must ‘mirror’ the structure of a crystalline reality or ‘impose’ structure upon a plastic one. If we can legitimately deny that there is an intelligible question to be raised of how language hooks onto reality, then prima facie we can grant that a sentence S is true without thereby becoming embroiled in the uncomfortable consequences of having to say what makes S true. So ontological quietism holds out the last, best hope for neo-Fregeanism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAbstractionism
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in the Philosophy of Mathematics
EditorsPhilip A. Ebert, Marcus Rossberg
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780199645268
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2016


  • meta-ontology, quietism, relativism, states of affairs, properties, Wright, Hale, Eklund


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