Frege’s Performative Argument Against Truth Relativism

The purpose of this paper is to reconstruct Frege’s argument against the relativity of truth contained in his posthumous writing Logic from 1897. Two points are made. The first is that the argument is a performative version of the common objection that truth relativism is incoherent: it is designed to show that the assertion of the relativity of truth involves a performative incoherence, because the absoluteness of truth is a success condition for making assertions. From a modern point of view, the central premise of the argument, that the successful making of assertions depends on the absoluteness of truth, is highly doubtful. The second point is that this premise can be made plausible within the framework of Frege’s conception of truth and assertion: it can be derived from his thesis that, in order to put something forward as true, we do not need the word ‘true’, but only the assertoric force.