David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Erkenntnis 35 (1-3):391 - 437 (1991)
This paper presents an outline of a new theory of relevant deduction which arose from the purpose of solving paradoxes in various fields of analytic philosophy. In distinction to relevance logics, this approach does not replace classical logic by a new one, but distinguishes between relevance and validity. It is argued that irrelevant arguments are, although formally valid, nonsensical and even harmful in practical applications. The basic idea is this: a valid deduction is relevant iff no subformula of the conclusion is replaceable on some of its occurrences by any other formula salva validitate of the deduction. The paper first motivates the approach by showing that four paradoxes seemingly very distant from each other have a common source. Then the exact definition of relevant deduction is given and its logical properties are investigated. An extension to relevance of premises is discussed. Finally the paper presents an overview of its applications in philosophy of science, ethics, cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence.
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