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The Law of Excluded Middle Author(s): Neil Cooper Reviewed work(s): Source: Mind, New Series, Vol. 87, No. 346 (Apr., 1978), pp. 161-180 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the Mind Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2253416 . Accessed: 30/01/2012 20:02

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**The Law of Excluded Middle*
**

NEIL COOPER

The Law of Excluded Middle has long been regardedas more problematic than otherlogical laws. Those who have abandoned or rejectedit have not, however,always made it clear what their abandonmentor rejectionamountedto. I want in this paper to argue that the Classical Law of Excluded Middle (CLEM) is so fundamental our thoughtthatin some formor otherit cannot in but be assumed and made use of even by those who professto rejectit. I To the foundersof modernlogic it was a source of satisfaction that they could dispense with the three traditionalLaws of Thought. That they could do so entirely was an illusion.It was one thing when they were constructing uninterpreted the Propositional Calculus, where the Laws of Thought appeared as theorems,not as primitive propositions.But any interpretation of the PropositionalCalculus has to make mentionof truthand If of falsity. we are to exhibitthe theorems propositional logic as logicallytrue by truth-functional analysis we have to adopt at least two rules: (i) that everyproposition has one and only one eitherhas the value True truth-value; that everyproposition (2) or the value False. The two rules together exclude a thirdvalue. to One majorthreat the Law ofExcluded Middle is theexistence oftruth-value gaps. An issue has been made ofthisin thediscussion of referring expressions.Thus Russell wrote in 'On Denoting' 48):

(Logicand Knowledge: EssaysI9OI-I950,

ed. R. C. Marsh,p.

**By thelaw ofexcludedmiddle,either'A is B' or 'A is notB' must be true. Hence either'the presentKing of France is
**

*

I am indebted for criticismof an earlier draft of this paper to Simon Blackburn and Robin Cameron. 6 T6i

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bald' or 'the presentKing of France is not bald' must be true.Yet ifwe enumerated thingsthatare bald, and then the the thingsthat are not bald, we should not findthe present King of France in eitherlist.Hegelians,who love a synthesis, will probablyconcludethathe wears a wig. Russell in thispassage is merely invoking shape of the Law the of Excluded Middle (LEM) to justifyreconstructing speechour habitsin such a way thatin everysphereof discoursewe should have only two alternatives. What Russell is applyingis a logical ideal expressiblein the requirement that everystatement should eitherbe given the value True or the value False. There are, of course, alternativeways of satisfying this requirementin the applicationof Logic. We could refuseto regard 'The King of France is bald' as even making a statementand consequently 'Either the King of France is bald or he is not bald' as being an the instantiation LEM. Or we could, like Russell, reinterpret of denial of 'The King of France is bald' so as to makethe statement 'Eitherthe King of France is bald or he is not' a disjunction not merelyof mutuallyexclusive but also of jointly comprehensive The price which Russell has to pay is that logically alternatives. disparatecases, therebeing no King of France and therebeing a A King of France with a finehead of hair, are classed together. ideal languagemay,likeour ordinary putatively language,harbour 'systematically misleading expressions'.Clearlyour logical ideals, and no less than our moral,politicaland social ones, can conflict we may be forcedto sacrifice one of them. There is a similarclash in predicatelogic. Here it is a theorem that

( I) (x)fx v (3x) -fx.

This looks like a logicallycomprehensive disjunctionuntil one considersthe case of the emptyuniverse.In the emptyuniverse universe thesecondlimbis plainly nothing false,sincein theempty has the property- f, and if the second limb is false,the first limb mustbe true. But it is also a theoremof predicatelogic that (x)fx :D (3x)fx. we thatin theempty If thisheld oftheempty universe, could infer is universe(3x)fx,something f. But this is obviouslyfalse of the emptyuniverse.The falsehoodis produced by taking(i) to be which it is not. If we were to aim at logicallycomprehensive,

(2)

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in logicalcomprehensiveness predicate logic,we shouldcomplicate Thus we should have to modify so that thingsunaesthetically. (2) it read

(3)

(3x)fxv

fx . D. (x)fx v (3x)fx,

an undesirableincrease in complexity, solely designed to cope with 'the one relativelyinutile case of the empty universe' (W. V. 0. Quine, Froma Logical Pointof View,Harvard,I953, p. i6i). Here againwe have a clash betweencompeting logicalideals, not a challengeto the Classical Law of Excluded Middle. Indeed, it is acceptanceofthe Law ofExcluded Middle whichmakesthose no logicianswho caterforthe emptyuniverse, less thanthosewho do not,alikeaware of the lack of logicalcomprehensiveness the in of theorems Classical PredicateLogic. whatsomehave called 'acceptance'oftheLaw ofExcluded So far Middle has been shownto be no morethan acceptanceof an ideal that our surfacegrammar of logical comprehensiveness requiring shouldbe such thatthe Law of Excluded Middle is readilyapplicwithwhich the able to it. There is indeed a second requirement Law of Excluded Middle has been associated.This is the requirement that concepts should be clearlydefined.As Frege put it ed. (Frege'sPhilosophical Writings, P. T. Geach and Max Black, middle really is Oxford, 1970, p. 159): 'The law ofexcluded just that the conceptshould have a anotherformof the requirement is sharp boundary.'This requirement one which does exclude a middle,forwhen conceptsare vague or not clearlydefinedthere in area or no-man's-land, whichit is notclearwhether is a boundary within the conceptis applicable or not. When asked of something this fuzzyarea whetherthe concept or its negationis applicable to it, we may be unsurewhetherto say 'Both' or 'Neither'. This second requirementis, then, one which is associated with the applicationnot only of the Law of Excluded Middle but also of To the Law of Non-Contradiction. make use of fuzzy concepts is no more to violate the Law of Excluded Middle than it is to violatethe Law of Non-Contradiction. Clearly,then,bothfuzzinessand lack of logicalcomprehensivewhich I ness are logically possible; they are logical infelicities as shall call LEM-deficiencies,since theyare deficiencies a result of which application of the Law of Excluded Middle is made Whatwe haveherearelogicalvaluesoridealsmasqueradawkward. can be remedied.We can ing as laws. Both kinds of deficiency

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remedyfuzzinessby givingconcepts'a sharp boundary'.We can remedylack of comprehensiveness a disjunctive in statement by if-ifying 'If there is such a person as the King of France, it. he must eitherbe bald or not bald' is such an if-ified disjunction. It should be noted that a concealed conditionalmay exist in the predicate well as in thesubject.To takeMichael Dummett's as example,the sentence'Jonesis eitherbraveor not brave' conceals the condition thatJones,to be called 'brave' or 'not-brave', must have encountered danger(see 'Truth' in P.A.S. I958-9). I cannot here enterinto the analysisof conditionals, but what I wish to maintainis that CLEM can be applied to the Dummettexample withinthe scope of the condition.We have a naturaltendency to dichotomize. Where such dichotomizings splitthe whole universe intotwo,the Classical Law applies veryhappily.It is, however, a factthatwe are notconcerned withthewholeuniverse thetime, all but normallyonly with a restricted part of the universeand we therefore make dichotomies withina restricted area or scope. For manypurposesthe restriction be ignoredand restricted can forms of LEM can be applied; we are made consciousof the restrictions when we over-naively treatour restricted disjunctions if they as were permissiblesubstitution-instances CLEM and therefore of jointlycomprehensive. The faultlies not in our logical laws but in our applicationof them. Afterall, when arithmetical statementsare found to be not applicable to juxtaposed globules of liquid, we do not fault the arithmetical statements and deny the truththat 2+2 = 4. Far fromit. Arithmetical truthsare applicable only to discrete objects. By so stipulating, we protectarithmetical truthsfrom falsification preserve and theirnecessity. is a necessary It condition of the existenceof arithmetic we should be able to count,and that it is a necessaryconditionof our being able to count that there should be discrete, discriminableobjects. Likewise with the Classical Law of Excluded Middle. It is a necessaryconditionof CLEM being applicable that our disjunctsshould be mutually exclusive and jointly comprehensive.The existence of topics which are considered within the scope of some restriction or condition,and to which CLEM cannotexcept withinthat scope be applied, does not count against the necessary truth of CLEM.

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II The mostseriousattackon the Law of Excluded Middle has been traditionrepresentedin particularby from the verificationist Mathematical Intuitionism.There are two lines of reasoning whichmightlead one to rejecta putativelogical law. One line of the reasoningmay show it to lead to a contradiction, othermay truth.It is impossibleto show it to lead to a merelycontingent fromthe Law of Excluded Middle itself; derive a contradiction could also be derivedfromthe if one could, then a contradiction 'corresponding' theorem of Intuitionist Propositional Logic, 'On the Principleof namelym - (p v m p) (see A. N. Kolmogorov, Excluded Middle' in J. van Heijenoort,From Frege to G6del, have Cambridge,Mass., I967, p. 43i). However, some thinkers and is thus yields a contradiction triedto show that it sometimes falsethatthe On contingent. thisview it is necessarily necessarily Logic,New York, Law is alwaystrue.Thus F. B. Fitch (Symbolic propositionlike 'This p. 8) argues that a self-referential I952, the propositionitselfis false', if regardedas satisfying Law of Excluded Middle, is both true and false. Since this is impossible, which are neithertrue nor false. Alternathereare propositions Fitch could have denied that 'This protivelyand preferably, This would is positionitself false' was used to statea proposition. since prohis difficulty, have been the more plausible way out of positions,as he would admit,are 'objects of beliefor disbelief', believing whatwould constitute and it is notpossibleto understand But if the sentence 'This pro'This propositionitselfis false'. then it is positionitselfis false' is not used to statea proposition, the paradox never even gets started. and not self-referential Russell's paradoxofthe class of all classeswhichare not Similarly membersof themselvesis not to be solved throughdenyingthe Law of Excluded Middle or even throughdenyingthat it makes sense to say of a class that it is or is not a memberof itself.The paradoxyieldstwo sentences:

(i)

If thereis a class of all classes which are not membersof themselvesand it is a member of itself,then it is not a memberof itself; (2) If there is a class of all classes which are not membersof themselvesand it is not a member of itself,then it is a memberof itself.

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limb of If (i) and (2) are both accepted it followsthat the first both protasesis falseand thatthereis no class of all classes which are not membersof themselves. I conclude fromthis that the semanticand logical paradoxes a do not forceone to denythe LEM. They in no sense constitute of ad reductio absurdum the Law ofExcluded Middle as universally applied. My way out requires the recognition that mere verbal form is not sufficient warrant regardinga sentence as a to of substitution-instance CLEM. This is hardlyan unreasonable to admission.It is incorrect say,as some do,thatevery substitutioninstanceof a logicallaw is a logically valid proposition. For plainly the sentence'Either reasoningdrinksdogs or it does not' is not It a valid substitution-instance. is not valid for the very good reasonthat'reasoning drinks dogs' is not meaningful. then,the If, is thatsome sentences, MathematicalIntuitionist asserting which have regardedas meaningful, not meaningful are mathematicians as or or,at anyrate,oughtnotto be regarded meaningful assertible, thenhe is goingto refuseto allow such sentencesor theircontraof dictoriesto figurein substitution-instances CLEM. But this does appear to be the attitudeof Intuitionists towardssentences sets of objects. If it which appear to referto actually infinite makes no sense to talk of such actual infinities, then sentences to purporting referto them cannot figurein valid substitutioninstancesof CLEM or any otherlogical law. The logical position of Intuitionalistically-condemned sentencesis verysimilarto that of the class-paradoxicalsentences already considered.Whether one says thatthe class-paradoxical sentencesare meaningless, or, as I have opted to do 'a la Quine's Mathematical Logic (Harvard, to I95I), that the classes they purportto refer are non-existent, In makes no difference. neither case can the disjunctionof a be class-paradoxicalsentence and its contradictory a valid subof stitution-instance CLEM. Likewise it makes no difference the as whetherwe interpret Intuitionist denyingthe existenceof sets the of actuallyinfinite or as denying meaningfulness sentences to to case can the disjunction purporting refer such sets. In neither sentenceand its contradictory of an intuitionistically-condemned be regarded by the Intuitionistor by anybody else as a valid of substitution-instance CLEM. One should not say, then, that Brouwerand the Intuitionists sets but 'reject' it forinfinite sets. While 'accept' CLEM forfinite the first part of this is true,the second part would misrepresent

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their position as one of assertingor, at any rate, implyingthe existence of actually infinitesets. Rather Brouwer and the about such are Intuitionists denyingour rightto assertanything what sets actuallyinfinite at all. For in so faras we can understand sets might be, they cannot be surveyable.We actually infinite cannot have a procedurefor examiningeach of the membersof or it whether has a givenproperty not. such a set to determine my say of Furtherexamination what the Intuitionists confirms are accountofwhatthe Intuitionists reallydoing.The Intuitionist the Law from propositions thatwe can infercontingent maintains applied. Indeed of Excluded Middle if it is indiscriminately Brouwer ('IntuitionisticReflectionson Formalism' in J. van of that'the principle excluded op. Heijenoort, cit. p. 490) contends of middle' is identicalwith 'the principleof the solvability every problem'. This is evidence that Brouwer is intermathematical pretingthe Law of Excluded Middle not as assertingfor any is thateitherit or its contradictory true,but as asserting statement eitherit or its contradictory statement thatforany mathematical the Classical Law is provable,a claimwhich does not followfrom interpretation. under any traditional purportsto be givinga Usually the MathematicalIntuitionist description of mathematicalstatements.As Heyting puts it Amsterdam, I956, p. i9),1 'Every mathematical (Intuitionism, the assertioncan be expressedin the form:"I have effected conA struction in mymind".' If thisis so, it is plain thatthestraightassertion,'I have not effected forwarddenial of a mathematical assera A the construction in mymind',is not itself mathematical which may be true or false, tion. It is indeed a factualstatement, The a accordingto whetheror not I have effected construction. negationof the originalassersame also goes forthe mathematical B, in tion,namely'I have effected my mind a construction which thatthe construction fromthesupposition deducesa contradiction negationis comA were broughtto an end'. The mathematical negationsign 'i' and will monlyexpressedby the intuitionistic it be here called 'niet'. Where 'p' appears assertively, is the assertive contextof the proofwhich converts'p' into a mathematical would be shown of The logicalstructure the proposition assertion. assertionwere written'+p' (the betterif 'p' as a mathematical Foundations comes fromA. Heyting,'The Intuitionist suggestion of of Mathematics',Philosophy Mathematics:Selected Readings,

I

edition. are All page references to the first

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ed. Benacerraf Putnam, Oxford,I964, pp. 48-49). Because of & the misleadingsymbolismthe LEM which is rejected by the Intuitionists commonly is symbolized 'p v -m p'. The less misas leadingexpression thiswould be '+Hpv 1p'. It is partly of owing to the misleadingsymbolism employedthat it has been believed thatthe law whichthe Intuitionists have been concernedto deny is identicalwiththe law whichthe Classical Logicians and Mathematicianshave been concernedto assert. In whatfollowsI shall tryto show thatMathematical Intuitionism failsto overthrow Classical Law of Excluded Middle, but the to beforeI do so I wantto look at attempts show the Intuitionists' Such attempts the mostpartdepend for positionto be incoherent. on a tacitpresupposition the Law of Excluded Middle in some of formor other.Consider,forexample,Church'sargument (Bulletin of theAmerican MathematicalSociety,1928, pp. 75-78, 'On the Law ofExcluded Middle'). He says (p. 75) 'It is not possible,as an to alternative the law of excluded middle, to assert that some proposition neither is truenor false,because by so doing not only the law of excluded middle would be denied but also the law of In contradiction. factto assertthat a proposition not true and is is also not false is to assert at once not-p and not- (not-p) and to consequently assertthat not-p is both true and false.' Let us formalize this,representing is truethat' and 'it is false that' by 'it the operators 'T' and 'F'. Then the hypothesisfrom which Church develops his reductio absurdum that, given a proad is position,call it p, (i) (Tp v Fp) and By a De Morgan Law availablein both Intuitionistic Classical Logic we can derive

(ii)

Tp .

Fp

whichChurchskatesroundis how he getsa contraThe difficulty dictionfrom(ii) withoutassumingthe Law of Excluded Middle or something equivalentto it. Of course,if both (iii) Tp -? Fp and (iv) Fp -> Tp, it can be done, and you obtain Tp . Fp, one which is a contradiction. Alternatively can assume both that Fp -> p. Proposition (v) is p and (vi) Tp -> (v) to derived fromthe redundancythesis while (vi) is tantamount that 'F' does not represent assumingor adoptingthe convention or a strong negation (like logical impossibility absurdity),but

'

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ratherone which satisfiesthe Law of Excluded Middle. Thus Church only produces a reductio absurdum a systemwhich ad of denies the Law of Excluded Middle by presupposingthat very law in his reductio. Church emphasizesthat this 'proof' is not a reductio absurdum a systemof logic whichfailsto assertthe ad of LEM, but onlyof one whichdeniesthe LEM, since,as he himself points out, withoutthe aid of the LEM we are not justifiedin sayingthatifit is absurdto denythe LEM, it is necessary assert to it. In any case Church's 'proof'is not even a reductio absurdum ad ofthe denialof CLEM but rather denying Law ofBivalence of the or the BivalentLaw of Excluded Middle (BLEM) viz., Tp v Fp. BLEM can be derived from CLEM with the aid of (a) the redundancythesis, viz., 'p Tp' and (b) the bivalencythesis I shall now tryto show thatthe Intuitionists' accountof mathematical propositions need not be construedas committing them to renouncing Law of Excluded Middle. the It has been shown by McKinsey and Tarskil thatthe Heyting IntuitionistPropositional Calculus has a number of possible within Lewis's modallogic S4. A further interpretations interpretationhas been added by Rescher.2 While all oftheseinterpretations are open to objection (see Rescher, ibid.), it is clear that the IntuitionistPropositional Logic (IPL) has a modal character. This can be made perspicuous if we employ Heyting's strong assertionoperator '+' as well as the niet in formulating both acceptable and unacceptable 'mixed' formulasin the mannerof Rescher. This perspicuously modal IPL may be regardedas the modal sectionof an extendedclassicalpropositional logic (ECPL) embracingpure classical, pure intuitionist and mixed formulas. To show, as I wish to do, the co-tenability the Intuitionistic of denialofthe Classical Law and the Classical assertion the Law I of do not need to propose a totaltranslation the whole Intuitionof isticPropositional Calculus. Indeed, thiswould be contrary the to spirit of Intuitionism (A. Heyting,Intuitionism, I02: 'There p. alwaysremainsa residueof ambiguity the interpretation the in of signs'). Strongassertion, strong negation of (explainedin terms the notion of contradiction), intuitionistic conjunction,disjunction

I 2

',Tp "Fp'.

See J. C. C. McKinsey and A. Tarski, 'Some Theorems about the Sentential Calculi of Lewis and Heyting',JSL, xiii (1948), 1-15. See N. Rescher 'On Modal Renderingsof Intuitionist PropositionalLogic', Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, Vii (I966), 277-80, reprintedas ch. III of Topics of Philosophical Logic, Dordrecht, I968,

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and implication, last threebeing non-interdefinable, to be the are interpretedin accordance with Heyting's informal remarks (ibid. pp. 97-99). Thus a disjunctioncan be intuitionistically assertedifand onlyif at least one of its disjunctscan be intuitionisticallyasserted. Well-formed mixed formulascan be specified concerned withthe logicalrelations strict (of implication) between intuitionist and classical propositions.Thus, since all intuitionisticallyaccepted formulasare also classicallyaccepted, we are justifiedin saying that in ECPL the followingmixed formulas will be acceptable(where '--' represents strict implication):

__1p P,

while theirconverseswill be rejected. We can further represent classicaldisjunctions mathematical of in propositions the language of ECPL. Let 'E' stand forthe propositionthat the numberof primesis infinite. Then '+E', the only proposition interest of to the Intuitionist,would mean, 'A constructionproving "The numberof primesis infinite" been effected'. has Thus, where 'v' represents classical disjunction,

(I)

+E v-E

is, althoughcontingent, true,forthanksto Euclid a construction proving 'The number of primes is infinite'has been effected. However,where 'G' standsforGoldbach's conjecture,

(2)

+Gv -G

is false. The Intuitionist, when he rejectsthe necessitynot only of (2) but also of (i), is not rejectingCLEM, or an instanceof CLEM, he is rejectinga disjunction, expressed in intuitionistic language and only superficially analogous to CLEM. This disjunction,the Bogus Law of Excluded Middle (BOGLEM), i.e., statesthatforany proposition eitherwe have the rightto assertit or we have the rightto assertits contradictory. so interpreted, As propositions, (3) is obviouslyfalse. There are some mathematical thoseforwhichwe have no proofor disproof namely, whatsoever, let alone a constructive one, whichare such thatwe have no right to asserteitherthemor theircontradictories. BOGLEM, then,is to tantamount 'the principleof the solvabilityof every mathematicalproblem' and is not logicallycomprehensive, i.e., it does

(3)

+pv -p

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not exclude all middles. The Classical Law, on the other hand, emergesintact. 'p v- p' holds togetherwith its exemplification languageviz., in Intuitionist

(4)

+p v

+p

or provingp has been effected it has not'.) ('Either a construction proposition. (4), of course,is not a mathematical Logic is regardedin the way I have suggested If Intuitionist of as a modal fragment an Extended Classical Logic, structurally and similarto Lewis's S4, we need no longersee the Intuitionist Classical Propositional Logics as being in competition.Thus, when we prove m - p we are only,accordingto the Intuitionist, Justas in Lewis's of provingthe consistency p, not its necessity. S4 LNLNp entailsMp but does not entailp or Lp, so - - p does is not entail +p or even p. The Intuitionist not committedto by sayingthat 'p' unflagged a '+' is meaningless.He may refer to it abusivelyas a mere 'abstract' or considerit not an honest and to assertion,but since he is committed the meaningfulness theoremhoodof any classical (but intuitionistically-condemned) theoremwhen preceded by a double-niet,it would be difficult forhim to maintainthattherebut forthe grace of a double-niet is would be nonsense. The MathematicalIntuitionist not, pace Dummett, puttingforwarda theoryof meaning. Rather he is concernedthat nothingshould be asserted about unsurveyable which impliedthattheywere reallysurveyableby some totalities we ideal omniscientbeing. Accordingto the Intuitionist, ought totality, not to make any assertionsat all about an unsurveyable eitherhave a certain not even thatthe membersof such a totality what then, is prescribing or property do not. The Intuitionist, kind of assertion one should use in Mathematics. An antisafe only if line in Mathematicswould be perfectly intuitionist expressiblein the languageof logic and matheeveryproposition or maticswere eithernecessary impossible.But this is plainlynot the case. are really doing is takingsides in the What the Intuitionists are ethicsof assertion.Questionsin the ethicsof assertion normative, not conceptualor empirical,they are concernedwith what one ought and ought not to assert,just as questionsof the ethics of belief are concernedwith what one ought and ought not to believe. The Intuitionistis saying, 'You ought not to assert a unless you have a certainkindof proof, mathematical proposition

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a constructive proof'. We are indeed quite familiar withthe idea thatstandards assertion mathematics for in should be stricter than standardsfor assertionwith regardto empiricaltopics. Further, within mathematics one may tightenor relax one's criteriafor what countsas a proof.Thus, stricter standardsthanthose of the Intuitionist have been argued for by G. F. C. Griss who rejects all reductioad absurdumproofs (see A. Heyting, Intuitionismi) because theyinvolvethe conceivingof what is impossible.More recently stricter standards have been arguedforbyA. S. YesseninVolpin (see his paper in Intuitionism Proof Theory,ed. A. and Kino, J. Myhill and R. E. Vesley, Amsterdam,I970). These disputesabout the strictness laxness of standardsindicatethat or we are here engaged in the ethics of assertion.Yessenin-Volpin makesthis clear on the first page of his paper (ibid. p. 3) when he defines proofas 'any fairway of makinga sentenceincontestable', and comments that 'of coursethisexplication relatedto ethics'. is III The theory meaningwhichhas been providedforMathematical of Intuitionism recenttimes does not consistin stipulating in that the meaning of a statement is its assertibility-conditions or as anything simple-minded that.'Our understanding a stateas of ment', Dummettwrites('What is a Theory of Meaning? (II)' in Truth and Meaning, G. Evans and J. McDowell, Oxford,I976, ed. p. i io) 'consistsin a capacity,not necessarily finda proofbut to onlyto recognizeone when found'. Dummett's dictum does not really elucidate the concepts of or understanding meaning.First,Dummettis quite right avoid to sayingthatthe understanding a statement of consistsin a capacity to finda proofof it. This would have the absurd consequencethat nobody could understanda mathematical statement until he had proved it. But to say that the understanding a mathematical of statement consistsin a capacityto recognizea proof,'whenfound, or presented',runs into comparabledifficulty. this elucidation If is to be anyadvanceon therejectedone, it mustprovidea criterion for recognizingthat we understand a particularmathematical statement priorto the discovery a proof.For clearlythe matheof matician'sgeneral capacityfor recognizing proofsis not here in question and would of itselfbe insufficient guaranteeunderto standingof a particular mathematical statement.

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Second, Dummett's dictumspecifiesneithera sufficient a nor necessary condition understanding. failsto providea sufficient of It condition, because one maybe able to recognizea proofor derivation of a statement, when presented, without being able to understand it. I may understand primitive the propositions fromwhich the proof starts; I may also have checked that each deductive move is formally valid,but owingto the complexity the derivaof tion I may be unable, perhaps only temporarily, understand to thetheorem whichhas palpablybeen proved.Nor does the dictum a specify necessarycondition, because one may be able to understand a mathematical statement and yet be unable to recognize a proofof it when it is presented.This may be due to the sheer and difficulty what is presentedto us as a proof. complexity of We can imaginethata proofis churnedout forus by a machine. Our assurancethatthisis indeed a proofmaydepend on our prior assurance that the machine is functioning correctly, that, for example, at no stage did an electricalfault give rise to a non sequitur. Moreover,we may not even knowwhat kindof proofa mathematicalproposition admitsof untilwe have foundthe proofand recognizedit as such. It is because we know the meaningof the Axiom of Choice that we know that we cannot produce a proof of it exceptby adoptingas an axiom an assertion equivalentto it. It is because we knowthe meaningof the ContinuumHypothesis that we can understandwhat is proved when its consistency is proved,but we do not as yethave 'a capacityto recognize'a proof of that Hypothesis'when found',forwe do not know what form such a proof,if any, mighttake. We show, however,our understandingof the ContinuumHypothesisby our capacityto reflect on critically its awkwardand not-so-awkward consequences and to replace it, if necessary,by some weaker but intuitively more acceptable hypothesis.Again, consider the conjectureof Goldbach, engagingly called by Dickson 'Goldbach's empirical theorem' (Dickson, History of the Theoryof Numbers,vol. I, Washington, I9I9, p. 42I), thateveryeven numberis the sum of two primes.We do not know what sortof proofGoldbach's conjecture (G.C.) is susceptibleof. Perhapsa proofcould be obtained by sieve methods (see H. Halberstamand H. E. Richert,Sieve Methods, London, I974). If so, well and good. But ifsievemethods are exhaustedand do not turnout to be successful, otherkindsof proofmay be attempted. no anticipated If methodsare successful,

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we cannotinfer thatneitherGoldbach nor ourselvesreallyunderstood the meaningof G.C. It is because Goldbach and Euler did understand meaningof 'Everyeven number ?4 is the sum of the two primes' that it appealed to their mathematical intuitionas true,and because theydid understand theywereable to consider it its logical relationship with other conjectures, example, that for everyodd number ?9 is the sum of threeodd primes.If we did not understand G.C. we could not make a starton verifying for it all numbers, say,between4 and ioi. Yet we can do thisand after we have exhibitedioo as '47+53' we can say withunderstanding 'and so on'. Of course,such 'verification' not good enough for is Mathematics.On that all will agree. But mathematical thinking, as G. Polya has emphasized,involvesconjectures explorations. and Plausible reasoning and non-mathematical induction, even though they cannot warrantour makingan honest-to-goodness mathematicalassertion, may enable us to reach a mathematical conjecture. It does not, however,followthat we cannot understanda conjectureor suppositionuntil we are warrantedin assertingit or even untilwe are warranted knowing forma proofmight in the take. If we did not know what a conjecturemeantuntilwe knew whatsortof proofit admittedof we should make fewconjectures or suppositions. It is, of course, true that our routes to the proofof G.C. are going to be mathematically important. new type of proofmay A relatethe theoremprovedto a whole family othertheorems of not originally thoughtof as belongingto the same family.In a wide sense of 'understanding' our understanding G.C. would have of become enhanced. But this,of course,is not the sense of understandingwhich the theoryof meaningis concernedwith. Moreover, it is fairto point out that it is only in comparatively recent timesthat proofand truthhave been so intimately connectedby mathematicians. so long ago intuition Not would have been looked upon as an alternativeroute and even as late as I929 (Mind, January I929, p. i8) G. H. Hardy could refer proofswithonly to a perfunctory apologyas 'gas'.

IV

If myargument faris correct, so 'the Intuitionist of theory meaning' has been unjustifiably foisted on to the Intuitionistby Dummettand otherrecentphilosophers, and we should therefore

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be waryofanyinference from reasonableness an Intuitionist the of reformof Mathematics to the reasonablenessof a generalized 'Intuitionist theoryof meaning'. This generalized Intuitionist theory meaningI shallfrom of here onwardscall 'the anti-realist theoryof meaning'.The positionof the anti-realistvis-a-vis verification-transcendent language is conceptuallyambivalent. In a manner reminiscent Hume's of treatment the idea of cause, the anti-realist to allow that of has verification-transcendent language does occur. The classical language-gameis played. The anti-realist can no more deny its existencethan the Intuitionist denythe existenceof Classical can Mathematics.Unless therewas a lay use of languageto whichthe anti-realist took exception,there would be no problem. But if there is a verification-transcendent of language, an account use has to be givenof its meaningwhichcontainssomething over and above the aseptic verificationist language acceptable to the antirealist.To put the dilemmastarkly, eitherthe anti-realist wrong is or he is right.If he is wrong, well and good. But ifhe is right, then from he precludeshimself givingan accountofthe meaningofthe verification-transcendent language of the realist.This is not just a debatingpointbut indicatesa genuineambivalencein the antirealist's position. For at one momenthe appears to be denying any meaningto verification-transcendent languageand at the next it he is concedingthe meaningbut attacking as 'bad'. The antirealist either says that a verification-transcendent meaning is logicallyimpossible(cf. Crispin Wright,'Truth Conditionsand Criteria',P.A.S.S., I976, p. 234) or he does not. If he does not, then he could have onlyempiricalgroundsfordenyingthatverification-transcendent meanings exist, and these have not been But forthcoming. if he does, then he is usinga conceptof logical or whichis itself impossibility analyticity verification-transcendent. The anti-realistcannnot,then, avoid conceding a meaning to verification-transcendent language.Such languagemaybe objected to but it cannot be ignored.It plays a role in our language and and hence has to be taken account of in any theoryof thinking of meaningworthy the name. the It is, I hope, clearfrom foregoing thatanti-realism does not aim to fit our intuitions about meaningbut rathertries to disin tinguish'good' meaning from 'bad'. Anti-realism the theory of meaning is, then, no less prescriptive than Intuitionismin It Mathematics. is an accountnot of the meaningofour assertions

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but ratherof whatassertions are entitledto make. Justas the we early verificationists dressed up a demarcation-criterion a as criterion significance, the anti-realists of so have dressedup as a criterion significance of what is reallya contestableprincipleof the ethicsof assertion. The plausibility the anti-realist of positionis enhancedby being placed in the contextof Dummett's polemic againstthe account of meaningin termsof truth-conditions M. A. E. Dummett's (see articles from 'Truth' onwards and his Frege's Philosophyof Language(London, I973)). In the courseofthispolemicDummett characterizes realistas one who maintains thatpropositions the (A) in a givensphereof discourseare eithertrueor false,and (B) that theyare true or false,as the case may be, in virtueof something external.It would appear that Dummettin attacking realismhas been attacking(A) ratherthan (B). For, while denying(A), he himself maintains versionof (B); he maintains a thatpropositions may legitimately called 'true' or 'false' when we are justified be in the asserting existenceof an external in something virtueof which they are true or false, as the case may be. (See 'Wittgenstein's of Philosophy Mathematics', in reprinted Benacerraf Putnam, and op. cit. p. 499: 'It is certainly part of the meaningof the word "true" that if a statementis true, there must be somethingin virtueof whichit is true'; see also 'What is a Theoryof Meaning? (II)', Truth and Meaning,ed. G. Evans and J. McDowell, Oxford, I976, p. 89.) Since Dummettsees (A) as the core of realism,he supposes that if realism is to be abandoned, then so too must CLEM. But this is not so. It is (B) which providesCLEM with an ontological sting,and if we abandon (B) insteadof (A) we can preservethe logical purityof the Classical Law intact without committing ourselvesto realism. One maywell be a supporter the Classical Law, what I shall of call a 'Clemist',withoutbeing a realist.Considersome gerundive expression, say, 'to be feared'. Then a Clemistmay hold 'Either thereare thingsto be fearedor thereare not'. There is, logically speaking,no thirdalternative here. (I have phrased my example to avoid possible LEM-deficiencies which are irrelevant the to presentargument.)To maintainthis the Clemist does not have to specifyany groundsforsayingthat something to be feared. is Whatevergroundsone may decide to be appropriate, eitherone maintains thatthereare thingsto be fearedor one maintains that there are not. One cannot maintain something betwixt and

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thisis all we need between.As faras consequencesare concerned, to know. The Clemist is not logicallyforcedto commithimself to some categoricalbasis forwhat is to be feared.If anybodyis going in for the assertinggame, then there are two mutually positionshe may take up. exclusive and jointly comprehensive Once the realistgloss, i.e. (B), is abandoned, the Classical Law or to can be applied withoutneuroticrestraint any statements propositionjudgmentswhatsoevercapable of being represented in ally,to value-judgments generaland moraljudgmentsin particular (see Simon Blackburn,'Moral Realism' in Morality and ed. Moral Reasoning, John Casey, London, I97I, pp. IOI-I24). of If this non-realistinterpretation the Classical Law makes it vacuous, this afterall is just what it should be. A logical law whichis notvacuous cannotbe a genuinelogicallaw. of The non-vacuousemployment the Law of Excluded Middle like (B) it is renderedpossible by supplementing withsomething Reason. of Sufficient or indeedeven witha versionofthe Principle of The bare incantation (5) Either if he encountereddangerhe would run away, or if dangerhe would not run away he encountered says no morethan (6) If he encountereddangerhe would eitherrun away or he would not. However,if (B) is accepted (5) appears to entail (7) Either he is such that if he encountereddanger he would run away, or he is such that if he encountereddanger he would not run away. it To say (7) is no longerto uttera barrenincantation, is to take argument.Likereductionist versus sides in the transcendentalist will wise it maybe argued: 'Eithera sea-fight takeplace tomorrow thenthe world If thereis (i.e., willbe) one tomorrow, or it willnot. If will be foughttomorrow. thereis a sea-fight is such now that one, then the worldis such now that no sea-fight not goingto be will be foughttomorrow.But the world is eithersuch now one is way it is, the future way or such now the otherway. Whichever or Such consequences, deterministic transcendendetermined.' contalist, CLEM by itselfalone could not have. If contingent drawn from the combination of CLEM and sequences are

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Dummett's(B), thenthe responsibility the creeping-in confor of tingency should be pinned firmly (B). on It is clear thatthe combination CLEM and (B) has enabled of Dummettand B. B. Rundle (Perception, Sensation and Verification, Oxford, I972) to cast interesting light on reductionistcontroversies.But the attempt generalizeIntuitionist to to reflections the theory meaningneeds some kind ofjustification the unease of and which such an attemptgenerates needs to be removed. That somethingwas wrong in such an attempt should have been it realized,because even withinthe philosophy mathematics is of withoutacceptingRealism. Morepossible to reject Intuitionism of over,it was not the barrenincantation CLEM withwhichthe Mathematical Intuitionists found fault for all its alleged metaphysical consequences. Rather the Intuitionists objected to its inferential use, the use which allows one to inferthe assertionof p fromthe assertionof its double negation. The ordinary-language analogue to the Intuitionist critiqueof Classical Mathematicsmust lie, then, in the rejectionof double negationeliminationin everydayreasoning.Once we put aside Dummett's (B) we have, I submit, no independentreason for this logico-linguistic rejecting practice. Let us takean examplefrom which multiply-general statements have no conclusiveverifiability-conditions. Nonethelesswe may be prepared to talk of our having evidence for or against such and if and only if we accept CLEM may we further statements, statementis evidence say that evidence for a multiply-general Take as an example, whose meaning against its contradictory. 'All men froman intuitive pointof view we certainly understand, are mortal'.This is a multiply-general statement, contradictory the of whichis 'Some man is immortal non-mortal'. or Considerthis If contradictory. we examinea man anatomically shall see that we he has severalpartswhich are subject to wear and tear. No man has been observed to survive a certaindegree of wear in these parts.That a giventypicalman has such partsis evidencethat he too will die and is therefore not immortal.If I have evidence I against a typical man's being immortal, have evidence for all men being mortal.Such reasonings resemhave onlya superficial is blance to those infinitistic reasoningswhich Intuitionism concerned to reject. For Intuitionism concernedwith proof and is but disproof, in the case ofthesemultiply-general statements proof are and disproof notadmissible, onlyevidenceforand against.

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on to life in Moreover, ordinary wemanage actboth unverifiable belief The unfalsifiable 'We (i.e., our beliefs. and on unfalsifiable its one day' has as its peculiarstrength cause) shall overcome beliefthat everyevent Again,the unverifiable unfalsifiability. of beenheldto be a presupposition science has a causehas often the we life. and everyday If at first don'tfind causeof an event, also propositions playa role Multiply-general we go on looking. despitetheirunfalsifiability. like thermodynamics, in sciences, because guaranteed is respectabilitypresumably Theirempirical individually of theydo not facethe 'tribunal sense-experience' as which a wholeis theory in butareelements an interconnected grounds. on opentorejection empirical theses: for I haveargued thefollowing in The ClassicalLaw of ExcludedMiddleis fundamental disjunction to but ourthought, it is notapplicable eachandevery are For contradictory. there hidden and ofa statement itsordinary to whichcause disjunctions conditions or implications concealed logical of The fail in logical comprehensiveness. requirement one represents logical ideal amongseveral comprehensiveness self-contradiction. without maybe violated which

(i)

but not Logicmaybe regarded as a rival as a Intuitionistic CLEM in which ClassicalLogic of modalfragment an Extended Logic Propositional too has its place.The 'law' in Intuitionistic rejected to analogous CLEM, i.e., BOGLEM, is rightly formally fromnon-Contraof The by Intuitionists. invalidity inference by may to or dictoriness Consistency necessity be accepted Classical Logic.

(2)

is assertion dependent of (3) Ourunderstandinga mathematical to a capacity nor upon to upon a capacity finda proof neither IntuitionMathematical whenone is presented. a recognize proof as of not ism presents so mucha theory meaning an ethicof assertion. from itself it is of (4) The Paradox Anti-Realism that precludes of themeaning theverification-transcendent of an giving account of is to. it language objects This paradox a consequence an illicit into of philosophy mathematics the of extension a misconstrued of theory meaning.

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nonof (5) The abandonment CLEM is shownin our ordinary of not by the hypothesizing verificationreasonings mathematical of entitiesbut by the elimination double negation. transcendent To drop the latter,a move forwhich no good reasonshave been of adduced, would mean thatevidenceagainstthe contradictory a thesis was not necessarilyevidence for the thesis itself. Antiembodied abandoningthe convention have failedto justify realists in CLEM.

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