Review of Metaphysics 25 (2):370-371 (1971)

The history of contemporary modal logic dates back to the writings of C. S. Lewis in the early part of this century. Since then, a growing body of literature has attested to professional interest in the area, and in a number of related issues in philosophical logic which have received wide attention. The recent development of powerful formal techniques for modal system building, together with an increasing interest in modal logic as a tool for philosophical analysis, have created a need for an up-to-date text to introduce students to this material. Snyder's book attempts to answer this need. Assuming an understanding of elementary propositional logic, Snyder introduces a reductive technique called cancellation for detecting the theorems of a system of logic. This technique, analogous to the construction of Smullyan trees but more compact, is extended to modal and quantified contexts. Cancellation versions of the systems M and Mn of G. H. von Wright, and S4 and S5 of Lewis are developed. Snyder uses a Hintikka type of semantics, showing how the various formal systems are differentiated at the semantic level by differing conditions which must be imposed on the model systems used as interpretations for them. These model systems, and the conditions imposed upon them, are in turn described by means of a metalanguage which is essentially first-order quantificational logic. The power of this technique stems from the fact that for every object language formula of a system, there is a corresponding formula in the metalanguage which describes the conditions an interpretation must meet in order to satisfy the original formula. The conditions that the interpretations of a given system of logic must meet are reflected in this metalanguage as "antecedent assumptions," and these in turn correspond to cancellation rules for the object language. This correspondence is constructed in such a way that the metalinguistic counterpart of each theorem of the system will be a theorem of first-order logic. Snyder's primary interest is in showing how modal logic can be used, with the help of these techniques, to build a large variety of formal systems and to "tailor" such systems to meet a variety of analytical tasks. Simple modal systems are developed for the articulation of a number of modal concepts, in addition to the classic alethic ones. Examples are taken from temporal, deontic, and epistemic logic to show how specific interpretations of the meanings of the relevant operators lead to the incorporation of appropriate conditions in the formal systems used to articulate them. An entire chapter is devoted to a discussion of the paradoxes of material and strict implication, and to an attempt to articulate the notion of entailment through the development of formal systems which include a dyadic modal operator that is free of these paradoxes. The final chapter discusses such classical issues as proper names, reference, fictional entities, definite descriptions, and existence presuppositions. Appendices deal with such matters as the equivalence of the cancellation systems to more classical axiomatic-deduction systems, and the sketch of a proof of soundness and completeness for all the modal systems presented. While designed as a text, this volume should be of interest to both logicians and those working in metaphysics and language analysis, since the primary concern of the author is to develop techniques that will facilitate the usefulness of modal logic as a tool for philosophical analysis. The instructor's manual contains many suggestions derived from the author's experience in teaching this non-standard treatment of the subject.--K. T.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1971252234
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