How Mathematics Isn’t Logic

Ratio 12 (3):279-295 (1999)
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View more Abstract If logical truth is necessitated by sheer syntax, mathematics is categorially unlike logic even if all mathematics derives from definitions and logical principles. This contrast gets obscured by the plausibility of the Synonym Substitution Principle implicit in conceptions of analyticity: synonym substitution cannot alter sentence sense. The Principle obviously fails with intercepting: nonuniform term substitution in logical sentences. ‘Televisions are televisions’ and ‘TVs are televisions’ neither sound alike nor are used interchangeably. Interception synonymy gets assumed because logical sentences and their synomic interceptions have identical factual content, which seems to exhaust semantic content. However, intercepting alters syntax by eliminating term recurrence, the sole strictly syntactic means of ensuring necessary term coextension, and thereby syntactically securing necessary truth. Interceptional necessity is lexical, a notational artifact. The denial of interception nonsynonymy and the disregard of term recurrence in logic link with many misconceptions about propositions, logical form, conventions, and metalanguages. Mathematics is distinct from logic: its truth is not syntactic; it is transmitted by synonym substitution; term recurrence has no essential role. The ‘=’ of mathematics is an objectual relation between numbers; the ‘=’ of logic marks a syntactic relation of coreferring terms.

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Roger Wertheimer
Agnes Scott College


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