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By George Duke (auth.)

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Dummett rightly considers the thesis that ‘the contents of acts of thinking are not constituents of the stream of consciousness’ (1993a, p. 22), or the ‘extrusion of thoughts from the mind’, as one of Frege’s most significant philosophical achievements. Although Frege’s main intention in arguing against psychologism was to attack the conflation of mental acts with the contents of those acts that was prevalent amongst his empiricist contemporaries, Dummett places the thesis of the extrusion of thoughts from the mind in the service of his own claim for the priority of meaning-theoretic considerations.

13). As we have seen in the previous section, this passage is inconclusive as to the order of priority between the syntactic and ontological realms. Indeed, Frege goes on to insist two paragraphs later that what is most essential is that a term should always have a Bedeutung, a claim which, even if we assume a closer link between reference and ontology than is explicit in Frege’s own writings, could be taken to imply that the 28 Dummett on Abstract Objects referents of our logical expressions should be determined in advance of a semantic interpretation.

239). This raises the question of the relation between the logical notion of an ‘object’ considered as something internal to a logical system – the notion of an object of a domain interpreted by a constant and quantified over – and the notion of an ‘object’ considered as something mind-independent or at least extra-linguistic, with which our ordinary language seems to be primarily concerned. Dummett’s road from syntax to semantics, and the project of semantic logicism more generally, seems at risk of conflating this important distinction insofar as the Fregean notion of an object allows interpretation on the one hand as a semantic notion and on the other retains vestiges of the ‘traditional’ or ‘non-logical’ notion of an object.

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