Bilateralism: Negations, Implications and some Observations and Problems about Hypotheses

In Thomas Piecha & Jean Fichot (eds.), Beyond Logic. Proceedings of the Conference held in Cerisy-la-Salle, 22-27 May 2017. Tübingen, Germany: (2017)
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This short paper has two loosely connected parts. In the first part, I discuss the difference between classical and intuitionist logic in relation to different the role of hypotheses play in each logic. Harmony is normally understood as a relation between two ways of manipulating formulas in systems of natural deduction: their introduction and elimination. I argue, however, that there is at least a third way of manipulating formulas, namely the discharge of assumption, and that the difference between classical and intuitionist logic can be characterised as a difference of the conditions under which discharge is allowed. Harmony, as ordinarily understood, has nothing to say about discharge. This raises the question whether the notion of harmony can be suitably extended. This requires there to be a suitable fourth way of manipulating formulas that discharge can stand in harmony to. The question is whether there is such a notion: what might it be that stands to discharge of formulas as introduction stands to elimination? One that immediately comes to mind is the making of assumptions. I leave it as an open question for further research whether the notion of harmony can be fruitfully extended in the way suggested here. In the second part, I discuss bilateralism, which proposes a wholesale revision of what it is that is assumed and manipulated by rules of inference in deductions: rules apply to speech acts – assertions and denials – rather than propositions. I point out two problems for bilateralism. First, bilaterlists cannot, contrary to what they claim to be able to do, draw a distinction between the truth and assertibility of a proposition. Secondly, it is not clear what it means to assume an expression such as '+ A' that is supposed to stand for an assertion. Worse than that, it is plausible that making an assumption is a particular speech act, as argued by Dummett (Frege: Philosophy of Language, p.309ff). Bilaterlists accept that speech acts cannot be embedded in other speech acts. But then it is meaningless to assume + A or − A.
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