On the social utility of symbolic logic: Lewis Carroll against ‘The Logicians’

Studia Metodologiczne 35:133-150 (2015)
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Symbolic logic faced great difficulties in its early stage of development in order to acquire recognition of its utility for the needs of science and society. The aim of this paper is to discuss an early attempt by the British logician Lewis Carroll (1832–1898) to promote symbolic logic as a social good. This examination is achieved in three phases: first, Carroll’s belief in the social utility of logic, broadly understood, is demonstrated by his numerous interventions to fight fallacious reasoning in public debates. Then, Carroll’s attempts to promote symbolic logic, specifically, are revealed through his work on a treatise that would make the subject accessible to a wide and young audience. Finally, it is argued that Carroll’s ideal of logic as a common good influenced the logical methods he invented and allowed him to tackle more efficiently some problems that resisted to early symbolic logicians.
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