Against Harmony

In Bob Hale, Crispin Wright & Alexander Miller (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Blackwell (forthcoming)
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Abstract
Many prominent writers on the philosophy of logic, including Michael Dummett, Dag Prawitz, Neil Tennant, have held that the introduction and elimination rules of a logical connective must be ‘in harmony ’ if the connective is to possess a sense. This Harmony Thesis has been used to justify the choice of logic: in particular, supposed violations of it by the classical rules for negation have been the basis for arguments for switching from classical to intuitionistic logic. The Thesis has also had an influence on the philosophy of language: some prominent writers in that area, notably Dummett and Robert Brandom, have taken it to be a special case of a more general requirement that the grounds for asserting a statement must cohere with its consequences. This essay considers various ways of making the Harmony Thesis precise and scrutinizes the most influential arguments for it. The verdict is negative: all the extant arguments for the Thesis are weak, and no version of it is remotely plausible.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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