second-order logic

In M. Zeleny (ed.), Logic, Meaning, and Computation: Essays in Memory of Alonzo Church. KLUKER. pp. 61–76 (2001)
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“Second-order Logic” in Anderson, C.A. and Zeleny, M., Eds. Logic, Meaning, and Computation: Essays in Memory of Alonzo Church. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2001. Pp. 61–76. Abstract. This expository article focuses on the fundamental differences between second- order logic and first-order logic. It is written entirely in ordinary English without logical symbols. It employs second-order propositions and second-order reasoning in a natural way to illustrate the fact that second-order logic is actually a familiar part of our traditional intuitive logical framework and that it is not an artificial formalism created by specialists for technical purposes. To illustrate some of the main relationships between second-order logic and first-order logic, this paper introduces basic logic, a kind of zero-order logic, which is more rudimentary than first-order and which is transcended by first-order in the same way that first-order is transcended by second-order. The heuristic effectiveness and the historical importance of second-order logic are reviewed in the context of the contemporary debate over the legitimacy of second-order logic. Rejection of second-order logic is viewed as radical: an incipient paradigm shift involving radical repudiation of a part of our scientific tradition, a tradition that is defended by classical logicians. But it is also viewed as reactionary: as being analogous to the reactionary repudiation of symbolic logic by supporters of “Aristotelian” traditional logic. But even if “genuine” logic comes to be regarded as excluding second-order reasoning, which seems less likely today than fifty years ago, its effectiveness as a heuristic instrument will remain and its importance for understanding the history of logic and mathematics will not be diminished. Second-order logic may someday be gone, but it will never be forgotten. Technical formalisms have been avoided entirely in an effort to reach a wide audience, but every effort has been made to limit the inevitable sacrifice of rigor. People who do not know second-order logic cannot understand the modern debate over its legitimacy and they are cut-off from the heuristic advantages of second-order logic. And, what may be worse, they are cut-off from an understanding of the history of logic and thus are constrained to have distorted views of the nature of the subject. As Aristotle first said, we do not understand a discipline until we have seen its development. It is a truism that a person's conceptions of what a discipline is and of what it can become are predicated on their conception of what it has been.
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