The value of thinking and the normativity of logic

Philosophers' Imprint 20 (25):1-23 (2020)
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Abstract

(1) This paper is about how to build an account of the normativity of logic around the claim that logic is constitutive of thinking. I take the claim that logic is constitutive of thinking to mean that representational activity must tend to conform to logic to count as thinking. (2) I develop a natural line of thought about how to develop the constitutive position into an account of logical normativity by drawing on constitutivism in metaethics. (3) I argue that, while this line of thought provides some insights, it is importantly incomplete, as it is unable to explain why we should think. I consider two attempts at rescuing the line of thought. The first, unsuccessful response is that it is self-defeating to ask why we ought to think. The second response is that we need to think. But this response secures normativity only if thinking has some connection to human flourishing. (4) I argue that thinking is necessary for human flourishing. Logic is normative because it is constitutive of this good. (5) I show that the resulting account deals nicely with problems that vex other accounts of logical normativity.

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Manish Oza
University of Western Ontario

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