Columbia University Press (2013)

Michael Shenefelt
Columbia University (PhD)
While logical principles seem timeless, placeless, and eternal, their discovery is a story of personal accidents, political tragedies, and broad social change. If A, Then B begins with logic's emergence twenty-three centuries ago and tracks its expansion as a discipline ever since. The book treats logic as more than a tale of individual abstraction; it sees logic as also being a result of politics, economics, technology, and geography, because all these factors helped to generate an audience for the discipline from the start. The book thus relates developments in logical theory to the social history of different historical periods. The book defends a number of controversial philosophical theses: (1) that rationally persuasive arguments must always proceed from premises that are initially more convincing than the conclusions to be proved (a position derived from Aristotle), (2) that intuitive logical judgments, though sometimes mistaken, can also count as certain knowledge, independent of the techniques used to construct formal logical systems, (3) that Wittgenstein was mistaken in thinking that philosophy was riddled with unintelligible language and that the real problems, instead, have been ambiguity and pretentious diction, and (4) that Nelson Goodman's argument to the effect that deductive logic can be "virtuously circular" is founded on a non sequitur.
Keywords logic  history of logic  philosophy of logic  rationality  epistemology  Aristotle  symbolic logic  Nelson Goodman  Wittgenstein  foundationalism
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