What is “Formal Logic”?

“Formal logic”, an expression created by Kant to characterize Aristotelian logic, has also been used as a name for modern logic, originated by Boole and Frege, which in many aspects differs radically from traditional logic. We shed light on this paradox by distinguishing in this paper five different meanings of the expression “formal logic”: (1) Formal reasoning according to the Aristotelian dichotomy of form and content, (2) Formal logic as a formal science by opposition to an empirical science, (3) Formal systems in the sense of Hilbert, Curry and the formalist school, (4) Symbolic logic, a science using symbols, such as Venn diagrams, (5) Mathematical logic, a mathematical approach to reasoning. We argue that these five meanings are independent and that the meaning (5) is the one which better characterized modern logic, which should therefore not be called “formal logic”
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DOI 10.5840/wcp22200813927
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