The Metaphysical Commitments of Logic

Dissertation, University of Leeds (2013)
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This thesis is about the metaphysics of logic. I argue against a view I refer to as ‘logical realism’. This is the view that the logical constants represent a particular kind of metaphysical structure, which I dub ‘logico-metaphysical structure’. I argue instead for a more metaphysically lightweight view of logic which I dub ‘logical expressivism’. In the first part of this thesis (Chapters I and II) I argue against a number of arguments that Theodore Sider has given for logical realism. In Chapter I, I present an argument of his to the effect that logico-metaphysical structure provides the only good explanation of the semantic determinacy of the logical constants. I argue that other explanations are possible. In Chapter II, I present another argument of his to the effect that logico-metaphysical structure is something that comes along with ontological realism: the view that there is a non-language-relative fact of the matter about what exists. I argue that the connection between logical and ontological realism is not as close as Sider makes it out to be. In the second part of this thesis (Chapters III – V) I set out a positive view of the logical constants that can explain both why their meanings are semantically determinate, and why they form part of our vocabulary. On that view, the primary bearers of logical structure are propositional attitudes, and the logical constants are in our language as vehicles for the expression of logically complex propositional attitudes. In Chapter III, I set out an expressivist theory of propositional logic. In Chapter IV, I use this theory to explain how the logical connectives end up having determinate meanings. In Chapter V, I extend the expressivist theory to predicate logic.

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Thomas Brouwer
University of Leeds


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