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Gottlob Frege Lectures in Theoretical Philosophy 2014

Franšois Recanati: Contextualism and Singular Reference, June 17-19

The Lecturer

Franšois Recanati (Photo: Isidora Stojanovic)

François Recanati has taught in several major universities around the world, including Berkeley, Harvard, Geneva, and St Andrews. In addition to being research fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, he is a ‘directeur d’études’ at EHESS, and the Director of a research lab in philosophy, linguistics and cognitive science at Ecole Normale Supérieure. His numerous publications in the philosophy of language and mind include Meaning and Force (Cambridge University Press, 1987), Direct Reference : From Language to Thought (Blackwell 1993), Oratio Obliqua, Oratio Recta (MIT Press/Bradford Books 2000), Literal Meaning (Cambridge University Press, 2004), Perspectival Thought (Oxford University Press, 2007), Philosophie du langage (et de l’esprit) (Gallimard 2008), Truth-Conditional Pragmatics (Oxford University Press, 2010) and Mental Files (Oxford University Press, 2012). He is a co-founder and past President of the European Society for Analytic Philosophy, and has been elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012.

Times and Venue

The lectures will take place in Jakobi 2, room 336. The lectures are each day, June 17-19, from




The Lectures

In the lectures professor Recanati will discuss three debates that have taken place in the philosophy of language since the mid-twentieth century: the debate between ‘ideal language philosophy’ and ‘ordinary language philosophy’ in the fifties and sixties, the debate over speaker's reference and the attributive/referential distinction in the sixties and seventies, and the debate between contextualism and minimalism which started in the eighties and culminated a few years ago. These debates, he will argue, are facets of one and the same controversy over the foundations of semantics. The controversy is still alive today: it is a mistake to believe that the issue has settled by the famous arguments put foward by Geach, Grice and Kripke against their contextualist opponents.

The Gottlob Frege Lectures in Theoretical Philosophy


Gottlob Frege (1848-1925)
The Gottlob Frege Lectures in Theoretical Philosophy are named in honour of the German mathematician and philosopher Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege. We have chosen Frege as the patron for our lecture series as he is widely recognised for his clarity and unpretentious, no-nonsense style of dealing with philosophical problems. So are the lecturers we are honoured to host in Tartu.

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry:

Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege (b. 1848, d. 1925) was a German mathematician, logician, and philosopher who worked at the University of Jena. Frege essentially reconceived the discipline of logic by constructing a formal system which, in effect, constituted the first ‘predicate calculus’. In this formal system, Frege developed an analysis of quantified statements and formalized the notion of a ‘proof’ in terms that are still accepted today. Frege then demonstrated that one could use his system to resolve theoretical mathematical statements in terms of simpler logical and mathematical notions. One of the axioms that Frege later added to his system, in the attempt to derive significant parts of mathematics from logic, proved to be inconsistent. Nevertheless, his definitions (of the predecessor relation and of the concept of natural number) and methods (for deriving the axioms of number theory) constituted a significant advance. To ground his views about the relationship of logic and mathematics, Frege conceived a comprehensive philosophy of language that many philosophers still find insightful. However, his lifelong project, of showing that mathematics was reducible to logic, was not successful.

Revision: 2014/06/15 - 16:23