On the very idea of choosing a logic: the role of the background logic

In Alexandre Costa-Leite (ed.), Abstract Consequence and Logics - Essays in Honor of Edelcio G. de Souza. London: College Publications. pp. 267-286 (2020)
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Logical anti-exceptionalism is the view that logic is not special among the sciences. In particular, anti-exceptionalists claim that logical theory choice is effected on the same bases as any other theory choice procedure, i.e., by abduction, by weighting pros and cons of rival views, and by judging which theory scores best on a given set of parameters. In this paper, we first present the anti-exceptionalists favourite method for logical theory choice. After spotting on important features of the method, we discuss how they lead to trouble when the subject matter of choice is logic itself. The major difficulty we find concerns the role of the logic employed to evaluate theory choice, or, more specifically, the role of the metalanguage employed to run the abductive method. When rival logical theories are being evaluated and compared, we argue, it is difficult not to beg some important questions; the metalanguage introduce biases difficult to avoid. These difficulties seem to be inherent to the method described. We suggest that they put some constraints on the scope of application of the method of abductive theory choice in logic and on the kind of disputes the anti-exceptionalist may plausibly expect to solve with it. We end the paper with some suggestions for how the anti-exceptionalist may address these issues on this front.

Author Profiles

Jonas R. B. Arenhart
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina


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