A realist analysis of the relationship between logic and experience

Topoi 22 (1):69-78 (2003)
Abstract
I undertake to explain how the well known laws of formal logic – Barbara Syllogism, modus ponens, etc. – relate to experience by developing Edmund Husserl's critique ofFormalism and Psychologism in logical theory and then briefly explaining his positive views of the laws of logic. His view rests upon his understanding of the proposition as a complex, intentional property. The laws of formal logic are, on his view (and mine), statements about the truth values of propositions as determined by their formal character and relationships alone. The laws thus understood explain how algorithms set up to mirror them can accomplish what they do to advance knowledge, even though they operate purely mechanically. Further, they explain the proper sense in which formal laws "govern," and may guide, processes of actual thinking. Husserl's theory is a realist theory in the sense that, on his interpretation, the laws of pure or formal logic hold true regardless of what any individual, culture or species may or may not think, or even if no thinking ever occurs.
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