“Truth-preserving and consequence-preserving deduction rules”,

Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 20 (1):130-1 (2014)
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A truth-preservation fallacy is using the concept of truth-preservation where some other concept is needed. For example, in certain contexts saying that consequences can be deduced from premises using truth-preserving deduction rules is a fallacy if it suggests that all truth-preserving rules are consequence-preserving. The arithmetic additive-associativity rule that yields 6 = (3 + (2 + 1)) from 6 = ((3 + 2) + 1) is truth-preserving but not consequence-preserving. As noted in James Gasser’s dissertation, Leibniz has been criticized for using that rule in attempting to show that arithmetic equations are consequences of definitions. A system of deductions is truth-preserving if each of its deductions having true premises has a true conclusion—and consequence-preserving if, for any given set of sentences, each deduction having premises that are consequences of that set has a conclusion that is a consequence of that set. Consequence-preserving amounts to: in each of its deductions the conclusion is a consequence of the premises. The same definitions apply to deduction rules considered as systems of deductions. Every consequence-preserving system is truth-preserving. It is not as well-known that the converse fails: not every truth-preserving system is consequence-preserving. Likewise for rules: not every truth-preserving rule is consequence-preserving. There are many famous examples. In ordinary first-order Peano-Arithmetic, the induction rule yields the conclusion ‘every number x is such that: x is zero or x is a successor’—which is not a consequence of the null set—from two tautological premises, which are consequences of the null set, of course. The arithmetic induction rule is truth-preserving but not consequence-preserving. Truth-preserving rules that are not consequence-preserving are non-logical or extra-logical rules. Such rules are unacceptable to persons espousing traditional truth-and-consequence conceptions of demonstration: a demonstration shows its conclusion is true by showing that its conclusion is a consequence of premises already known to be true. The 1965 Preface in Benson Mates (1972, vii) contains the first occurrence of truth-preservation fallacies in the book.

Author's Profile

John Corcoran
PhD: Johns Hopkins University; Last affiliation: University at Buffalo


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