The Content of Deduction

Journal of Philosophical Logic 42 (2):317-334 (2013)
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Abstract

For deductive reasoning to be justified, it must be guaranteed to preserve truth from premises to conclusion; and for it to be useful to us, it must be capable of informing us of something. How can we capture this notion of information content, whilst respecting the fact that the content of the premises, if true, already secures the truth of the conclusion? This is the problem I address here. I begin by considering and rejecting several accounts of informational content. I then develop an account on which informational contents are indeterminate in their membership. This allows there to be cases in which it is indeterminate whether a given deduction is informative. Nevertheless, on the picture I present, there are determinate cases of informative (and determinate cases of uninformative) inferences. I argue that the model I offer is the best way for an account of content to respect the meaning of the logical constants and the inference rules associated with them without collapsing into a classical picture of content, unable to account for informative deductive inferences.

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Mark Jago
Nottingham University

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