Wittgenstein's Elimination of Identity for Quantifier-Free Logic

Markus Säbel
Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Timm Lampert
Humboldt-University, Berlin
One of the central logical ideas in Wittgenstein's Tractatus logico-philosophicus is the elimination of the identity sign in favor of the so-called "exclusive interpretation" of names and quantifiers requiring different names to refer to different objects and different variables to take different values. In this paper, we examine a recent development of these ideas in papers by Kai Wehmeier. We diagnose two main problems of Wehmeier's account, the first concerning the treatment of individual constants, the second concerning so-called "pseudo-propositions" of classical logic such as a=a or a=b v b=c -> a=c. We argue that overcoming these problems requires two fairly drastic departures from Wehmeier's account: Not every formula of classical first-order logic will be translatable into a single formula of Wittgenstein's exclusive notation. Instead, there will often be a multiplicity of possible translations, revealing the original "inclusive" formulas to be ambiguous. Certain formulas of first-order logic such as a=a will not be translatable into Wittgenstein's notation at all, being thereby revealed as nonsensical pseudo-propositions which should be excluded from a "correct" conceptual notation. We provide translation procedures from inclusive quantifier-free logic into the exclusive notation that take these modifications into account and define a notion of logical equivalence suitable for assessing these translations.
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