Reversing logical nihilism

Synthese 200 (3):1-18 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Gillian Russell has recently proposed counterexamples to such elementary argument forms as Conjunction Introduction and Identity. These purported counterexamples involve expressions that are sensitive to linguistic context—for example, a sentence which is true when it appears alone but false when embedded in a larger sentence. If they are genuine counterexamples, it looks as though logical nihilism—the view that there are no valid argument forms—might be true. In this paper, I argue that the purported counterexamples are not genuine, on the grounds that they equivocate. Having defused the threat of logical nihilism, I argue that the kind of linguistic context sensitivity at work in Russell’s purported counterexamples, if taken seriously, far from leading to logical nihilism, reveals new, previously undreamt-of valid forms. By way of proof of concept I present a simple logic, Solo-Only Propositional Logic, designed to capture some of them. Along the way, some interesting subtleties about the fallacy of equivocation are revealed.

Similar books and articles

Logical Nihilism: Could There Be No Logic?Gillian Russell - 2018 - Philosophical Issues 28 (1):308-324.
The accident of logical constants.Tristan Grøtvedt Haze - 2020 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 9 (1):34-42.
Logical Revision by Counterexamples: A Case Study of the Paraconsistent Counterexample to Ex Contradictione Quodlibet.Seungrak Choi - 2019 - In Byunghan Kim, Jörg Brendle, Gyesik Lee, Fenrong Liu, R. Ramanujam, Shashi M. Srivastava, Akito Tsuboi & Liang Yu (eds.), Proceedings of the 14th and 15th Asian Logic Conferences. World Scientific Publishing Company. pp. 141-167.
Nihilism.Bülent Diken - 2008 - Routledge.
A Sudden Collapse to Nihilism.Roberto Loss - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (271):370-375.
Mereological Nihilism and Theoretical Unification.Andrew Brenner - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (4):318-337.
Intuitionism and Nihilism.David Kaspar - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (2):319-336.
Logical Pluralism.Gillian Russell - 2014 - In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford, CA: The Metaphysics Research Lab.
Nietzsche’s Nihilism.Maudemarie Clark - 2019 - The Monist 102 (3):369-385.


Added to PP

621 (#26,716)

6 months
183 (#14,666)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Tristan Grøtvedt Haze
University of Melbourne

Citations of this work

Logical Pluralism.Gillian Russell - 2014 - In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford, CA: The Metaphysics Research Lab.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Meaning and Necessity: A Study in Semantics and Modal Logic.Rudolf Carnap - 1947 - Chicago, IL, USA: University of Chicago Press.
The Principles of Mathematics.Bertrand Russell - 1903 - Cambridge, England: Allen & Unwin.
Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):278-279.

View all 31 references / Add more references