By George Duke (auth.)

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Although the explication of such a ‘criterion’ seems to belong within a theory of meaning (as a theory of understanding) it also seems to presuppose the metaphysical notion of ‘determinate identity-conditions’ to do the work required of it by Dummett’s account of what it is to be an object. It is no doubt hard to The Fregean Notion of an Object 31 conceive how we could communicate, that is to say, explain, the existence of abiding objects of any kind without the employment of linguistic criteria of identity.

According to Kerry, the irreducibility of the relation between concept and object no more implies that the distinction between concept and object is absolute than the relation between father and son implies that a man cannot simultaneously be a father and a son. Kerry’s objection would seem to be prima facie plausible, not only insofar as it conforms to our capacity to construct 24 Dummett on Abstract Objects alternative translations of statements involving, for example, ascriptions of number, but also because it allows us to avoid certain paradoxes associated with the mutual exclusivity of concept and object.

By contrast, Frege’s statement that the singular definite article always refers to an object and that the indefinite article always accompanies a concept-word (1892b, p. 50), suggests an explanation going in the opposite direction from syntax to semantics. Frege’s critique of Kerry also contains some programmatic statements on the crucial notion of the Bedeutung of an expression. The remark that from the perspective of the Bedeutungen of our discourse, a concept is the referent of a predicate whereas an object is the referent of a subject (1892b, p.

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