Table of Contents

Context in Public Policy and Management

Context in Public Policy and Management

The Missing Link?

Edited by Christopher Pollitt

‘Putting into context’ is a very common phrase – both in the social sciences and beyond. But what exactly do we mean by this, and how do we do it? In this book, leading scholars in public policy and management tackle these issues. They show how ideas of context are central to a range of theories and explanations and use an international range of case studies to exemplify context-based explanation. The book uncovers the complexity that lies behind an apparently simple notion, and offers a variety of approaches to decipher that complexity. Context is indeed a missing link, which enables us to make sense of the vital relationship between the general and the particular.

Chapter 6: Numbers in context: applying Frege’s principles to public administration

Geert Bouckaert

Subjects: business and management, public management, politics and public policy, public administration and management, public policy

Extract

The German mathematician and philosopher Gottlob Frege (1848–1925) stated in The Foundations of Arithmetic (1980) one of his fundamental methodological principles, which became known as Frege’s context principle: never to ask for the meaning of a word in isolation, but only in the context of a proposition. According to this principle – some consider it as Frege’s most important philosophical statement (Dummett in Puntel, 1993: 124) – only in the context of a sentence do words have meaning. This is one of Frege’s three interconnected principles (Frege, 1980: x; Frege, 1987: 23):1 1. Always to separate sharply the psychological from the logical, the subjective from the objective. 2. Never to ask for the meaning of a word in isolation, but only in the context of a proposition. 3. Never to lose sight of the distinction between concept and object. These three principles are almost like a Rough Guide to the intangible ‘World of Context’. These three principles are almost like a Rough Guide to the intangible ‘World of Context’.

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