Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

Blackburn on Frege-Geach

Added on by jay odenbaugh.

Blackburn claims he can solve Frege-Geach as follows. Here is Geach's example.

  1. Lying is wrong.
  2. If lying is wrong, then getting your little brother to lie is wrong.
  3. Therefore, getting your little brother to lie is wrong. 

Suppose there is an ideal language Eex, which has operators H!( - ) and B!( - ) that take "descriptions of things" and return attitudes. Specifically, H!( - ) returns an attitude of approval of - and B!( - ) returns an attitude of disapproval of -. Let |H!(X )| refers to a description of "approving of (X)". Using the ';' to represent a coupling of attitudes or beliefs, speakers of Eex could paraphrase conditionals like (2) as:

H!(|B!(lying) |; |B!(getting little brother to lie)|). 

Okay, we now have Blackburn's Eex paraphrase of Geach's argument: 

  1. B!(lying) 

  2. H!(|B!(lying)|; |B!(getting little brother to lie)|)

  3. B!(getting little brother to lie) 

Thus, if the conclusion was “H!(getting little brother to lie)” instead, then he would fail to have a combination of attitudes of which he himself approves. 

Question: What objections do you have to Blackburn's solution to the Frege-Geach problem?*

*Blackburn was not altogether happy with this solution. He offered another one in his paper "Attitudes and Contents."