We are reliable about logic in the sense that we by-and-large believe logical truths and disbelieve logical falsehoods. Given that logic is an objective subject matter, it is difficult to provide a satisfying explanation of our reliability. This generates a significant epistemological challenge, analogous to the well-known Benacerraf-Field problem for mathematical Platonism. One initially plausible way to answer the challenge is to appeal to evolution by natural selection (or to a related mechanism). The central idea is that (...) being able to correctly deductively reason conferred a heritable survival advantage upon our ancestors. However, there are several arguments that purport to show that evolutionary accounts cannot even in principle explain how it is that we are reliable about logic. In this paper, I address these arguments. I show that there is no general reason to think that evolutionary accounts are incapable of explaining our reliability about logic. (shrink)
Deductive reasoning is the kind of reasoning in which, roughly, the truth of the input propositions (the premises) logically guarantees the truth of the output proposition (the conclusion), provided that no mistake has been made in the reasoning. The premises may be propositions that the reasoner believes or assumptions that the reasoner is exploring. Deductive reasoning contrasts with inductive reasoning, the kind of reasoning in which the truth of the premises need not guarantee the truth of the conclusion.
Closure for justification is the claim that thinkers are justified in believing the logical consequences of their justified beliefs, at least when those consequences are competently deduced. Many have found this principle to be very plausible. Even more attractive is the special case of Closure known as Single-Premise Closure. In this paper, I present a challenge to Single-Premise Closure. The challenge is based on the phenomenon of rational self-doubt – it can be rational to be less than fully confident in (...) one's beliefs and patterns of reasoning. In rough outline, the argument is as follows: Consider a thinker who deduces a conclusion from a justified initial premise via an incredibly long sequence of small competent deductions. Surely, such a thinker should suspect that he has made a mistake somewhere. And surely, given this, he should not believe the conclusion of the deduction even though he has a justified belief in the initial premise. (shrink)
This paper develops a new framework for combining propositional logics, called "juxtaposition". Several general metalogical theorems are proved concerning the combination of logics by juxtaposition. In particular, it is shown that under reasonable conditions, juxtaposition preserves strong soundness. Under reasonable conditions, the juxtaposition of two consequence relations is a conservative extension of each of them. A general strong completeness result is proved. The paper then examines the philosophically important case of the combination of classical and intuitionist logics. Particular attention is (...) paid to the phenomenon of collapse. It is shown that there are logics with two stocks of classical or intuitionist connectives that do not collapse. Finally, the paper briefy investigates the question of which rules, when added to these logics, lead to collapse. (shrink)
There are well-known quasi-formal arguments that identity is a "strict" relation in at least the following three senses: (1) There is a single identity relation and a single distinctness relation; (2) There are no contingent cases of identity or distinctness; and (3) There are no vague or indeterminate cases of identity or distinctness. However, the situation is less clear cut than it at first may appear. There is a natural formal theory of identity that is very close to the standard (...) classical theory but which does not validate the formal analogues of (1)-(3). The core idea is simple: We weaken the Principle of the Indiscernibility of Identicals from a conditional to an entailment and we adopt a weakly classical logic. This paper investigates this weakly classical theory of identity (and related theories) and discusses its philosophical rami cations. It argues that we can accept a reasonable theory of identity without committing ourselves to the uniqueness, necessity, or determinacy of identity. (shrink)
We think of logic as objective. We also think that we are reliable about logic. These views jointly generate a puzzle: How is it that we are reliable about logic? How is it that our logical beliefs match an objective domain of logical fact? This is an instance of a more general challenge to explain our reliability about a priori domains. In this paper, I argue that the nature of this challenge has not been properly understood. I explicate the challenge (...) both in general and for the particular case of logic. I also argue that two seemingly attractive responses – appealing to a faculty of rational insight or to the nature of concept possession – are incapable of answering the challenge. (shrink)
In this paper, we develop an account of the justification thinkers have for employing certain basic belief-forming methods. The guiding idea is inspired by Reichenbach's work on induction. There are certain projects in which thinkers are rationally required to engage. Thinkers are epistemically justified in employing any belief-forming method such that "if it doesn't work, nothing will" for successfully engaging in such a project. We present a detailed account based on this intuitive thought and address objections to it. We conclude (...) by commenting on the implications that our account may have for other important epistemological issues and debates. (shrink)
In the first chapter of his Knowledge and Lotteries, John Hawthorne argues that thinkers do not ordinarily know lottery propositions. His arguments depend on claims about the intimate connections between knowledge and assertion, epistemic possibility, practical reasoning, and theoretical reasoning. In this paper, we cast doubt on the proposed connections. We also put forward an alternative picture of belief and reasoning. In particular, we argue that assertion is governed by a Gricean constraint that makes no reference to knowledge, and that (...) practical reasoning has more to do with rational degrees of belief than with states of knowledge. (shrink)
In virtue of what are we justified in employing the rule of inference Modus Ponens? One tempting approach to answering this question is to claim that we are justified in employing Modus Ponens purely in virtue of facts concerning meaning or concept-possession. In this paper, we argue that such meaning-based accounts cannot be accepted as the fundamental account of our justification.