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Boole on Reference and Universe of Discourse: Reply to John Corcoran

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CHATEAUBRIAND, Oswaldo. Boole on Reference and Universe of Discourse: Reply to John Corcoran. Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofia, Campinas, SP, v. 27, n. 1, p. 173–182, 2016. Disponível em: Acesso em: 23 maio. 2024.


In §1 I examine Boole’s “principle of wholistic reference” in relation to Frege’s postulation of truth-values as referents for sentences. I also consider in this connection Frege’s interpretation of quantification and his view that functions and concepts (of objects) must be defined for all objects. I then present my own contrasting views on the reference of sentences. In §2 I discuss Boole’s introduction of the notion of universe of discourse and consider whether one of the issues implicit in John’s paper is a confrontation between absolute interpretations of logic and relativistic interpretations of logic. I conclude with a brief examination of Tarski’s views on this issue. 


BOOLE, G. The Mathematical Analysis of Logic. Cambridge: MacMillan, Barclay, & MacMillan, 1847. Reprinted, Oxford: Blackwell, 1951.

GÖDEL, K. “Russell’s Mathematical Logic”. In Schilp, P. A. (ed.) The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell, pp. 125-53. New York, N.Y.: Tudor, 1944.

TARSKI, A. Introduction to Logic and to the Methodology of Deductive Sciences. Third edition, revised. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press,

TARSKI, A. “What are Logical Notions?” History and Philosophy of Logic,

, pp. 143-54, 1986.


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