Laws of Thought and Laws of Logic after Kant

In Sandra Lapointe (ed.), Logic from Kant to Russell. New York: Routledge. pp. 123-137 (2018)
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Abstract

George Boole emerged from the British tradition of the “New Analytic”, known for the view that the laws of logic are laws of thought. Logicians in the New Analytic tradition were influenced by the work of Immanuel Kant, and by the German logicians Wilhelm Traugott Krug and Wilhelm Esser, among others. In his 1854 work An Investigation of the Laws of Thought on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities, Boole argues that the laws of thought acquire normative force when constrained to mathematical reasoning. Boole’s motivation is, first, to address issues in the foundations of mathematics, including the relationship between arithmetic and algebra, and the study and application of differential equations (Durand-Richard, van Evra, Panteki). Second, Boole intended to derive the laws of logic from the laws of the operation of the human mind, and to show that these laws were valid of algebra and of logic both, when applied to a restricted domain. Boole’s thorough and flexible work in these areas influenced the development of model theory (see Hodges, forthcoming), and has much in common with contemporary inferentialist approaches to logic (found in, e.g., Peregrin and Resnik).

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Lydia Patton
Virginia Tech

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