Carnap's criterion of logicality

In Pierre Wagner (ed.), Carnap's Logical Syntax of Language. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 147-165 (2009)
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Providing a principled characterization of the distinction between logical and non-logical expressions is a longstanding issue in the philosophy of logic. In the Logical Syntax of Language, Carnap proposes a syntactic solution to this problem, which aims at grounding the claim that logic and mathematics are analytic. Roughly speaking, his idea is that logic and mathematics correspond to the largest part of science for which it is possible to completely specify by "syntactic" means which sentences are valid and which are not. Despite a renewed interest in the philosophical benefits of analyticity, both inside and outside of Carnap scholarship, Carnap's definition of logical expressions seems to have drawn too little attention. I shall argue that it is worth a second look. More precisely, my aim will be to defend this idea against some technical problems faced by Carnap's way of implementing it and against Quinean attacks on syntax-based conventionalism. Section 1 presents Carnap's definition in the context of Logical Syntax of Language, that is, how exactly the definition works, and why Carnap needs it. In section 2, I review three challenges that have been raised in the literature, and I propose to revise the definition accordingly. I argue that its modified version is immune to the previous challenges, and, to some extent, immune to new challenges as well. In the last section, I suggest that the definition has a philosophical interest of its own, because standard Quinean objections are not as conclusive as one might think when attention is paid to the fact that Carnap requires complete syntactic specification of validities



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Denis Bonnay
Université Paris Nanterre

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