Harmony in a sequent setting: a reply to Tennant

Analysis 71 (2):273-280 (2011)
In my Steinberger 2009 I argued that Neil Tennant’s Harmony requirement is untenable because of its failure to account for the standard quantifier rules.1 Instead of justifying the customary rules for the existential and universal quantifiers, Tennant’s account appears to sanction only wholly unrestricted – and so patently disharmonious – quantifier rules. In his characteristically thoughtful response Tennant 2010, Tennant offers a sequent calculus version of his Harmony requirement that rules out such pathological would-be quantifiers. While I agree with Tennant that recasting his Harmony requirement in the sequent format as he proposes blocks the said disharmonious quantifier rules, I submit that Tennant’s revamped Harmony requirement nevertheless misses the mark. I present two objections to substantiate my claim. First, I show that the crucial additional assumption underlying Tennant’s sequent calculus-based account – what I call the admissibility assumption – is excessively strong: so strong, in fact, that it renders otiose the core of Tennant’s original account. Second, I argue that the admissibility assumption, as a global requirement on deductive systems, is ill-suited for the purposes of codifying the intuitive notion of harmony. Fortunately, though, as I will demonstrate, we can dispense with the admissibility assumption altogether
Keywords Harmony  Logical constants  Proof theory
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