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B.A. Introduction to Logic 2012-13


Lecture 9: Propositional Logic VII
Recap
Rule of inference: vE: To draw an inference from a disjunction as such you must derive the desired formula from each disjunct first, i.e. assume each disjunct in turn and derive the desired formula from each. Having done so, you may repeat the conclusion on a new line of proof. Annotate the new line with five numbers, followed by vE. The five numbers are: i) the line number of the disjunction; ii) the dependency-number of the first disjunct assumed; iii) the line number of the conclusion derived from the first disjunct; iv) the dependency-number of the second disjunct assumed; v) the line number of the conclusion derived from the second disjunct. Note carefully that vE is a discharge rule. Hence, at the line annotated vE you may discharge the dependency-numbers of each disjunct and replace them with the dependencynumber of the original disjunction together with the dependency-number of any other formula you used to derive the conclusion.

Reductio ad absurdum
Reductio ad absurdum, or RAA for short, is a rule that can be used to prove negated formulas. To use RAA to prove the negation of a particular formula, we adopt the following two-part strategy: First, assume the formula in question. Second, use that assumption to derive a contradiction.

Question: what is a contradiction? Answer: A contradiction is the conjunction of a formula with the negation of the same formula. Examples: P&~P ~P&~~P (R S) & ~ (R S) (P (Q v (R & S))) & ~ (P (Q v (R & S)))

Lets see how RAA works in practice. Example: Suppose we want to prove the sequent: P Q, P ~ Q : ~ P We begin by writing in our premises: {1} {2} 1. 2. PQ P~Q Premise Premise

c.pelling@bbk.ac.uk Were looking to move from these premises to the conclusion ~ P. Since were using RAA to do that, our next step is to assume P: {3} 3. P A

Now we use that assumption to derive a contradiction. In this instance, its quite easy: {1,3} {2,3} {1,2,3} 4. 5. 6. Q ~Q Q&~Q 1,3 MP 2,3 MP 4,5 &I

Now we apply RAA: RAA: If a contradiction is shown to be derivable from a formula, you may write the negation of that formula on a new line of proof. Annotate the new line with the line number of the contradiction, the line number of the relevant formula, and RAA. The dependency-numbers of the new line consist of all those of the old lines except that of the formula from which the contradiction was derived. Using this rule, the last of line of our proof will look like this: {1,2} 7. ~P 3,6 RAA

Using RAA with DNE


The only formulas which RAA can be used to prove directly are negated formulas. However, there is also an indirect way in which RAA can be used to prove formulas that are not negated. To see this, one must grasp the way in which RAA can be used together with DNE. Example: Suppose we want to prove the sequent: ~ P Q, ~ P ~ Q : P We start by writing in the premises: {1} {2} 1. 2. ~PQ ~P~Q Premise Premise

In this case, were looking to derive the conclusion P. We cant get that conclusion directly by using RAA, since it isnt a negated formula. What we can do, though, is to use RAA to derive ~ ~ P, and then use DNE to remove the double negation: {3} {1,3} {2,3} {1,2,3} {1,2} 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. ~P Q ~Q Q&~Q ~~P A 1,3 MP 2,3 MP 4,5 &I 3,6 RAA 2

c.pelling@bbk.ac.uk {1,2} 8. P 7 DNE

In practice, this way of using RAA and DNE in combination is often very useful.

General strategy for proof construction


If the sequent youre trying to prove has premises, you should always start by writing them in. If youre trying to prove a theorem (i.e. a valid sequent without premises), then the first thing will be to make an assumption (which assumption it is will depend on which theorem youre trying to prove). In some cases, it may be pretty clear how to derive the conclusion from the premises (e.g. in cases where the only rules of inference involved are the simple ones, such as MP, &I, and &E. If youre faced with a more difficult proof, I advise you to follow Tomassis three-part golden rule:

Ask yourself: 1) Is the main connective in the conclusion a conditional? If so, apply the strategy for CP, i.e. assume the antecedent and try to derive the consequent. If not, ask: 2) Is the main connective of any member of the set of premises a disjunction? If so, apply the strategy for vE, i.e. assume the first disjunct and try to derive the conclusion, assume the second disjunct and try to derive the conclusion. Finally, draw that same conclusion from the original disjunctive premise by vE. If not: 3) Try RAA. Remember: the trick is to assume the opposite of what you want and then try to derive a contradiction from that assumption together with any other formula or formulas already available in the proof. The double negation rules will allow you to finish things off to suit your purposes.

Reading
Tomassi, P. Logic. Chapter 3, VI VIII.

Exercises
Exercises 3.7, 3.8, 3.9 (Qs 1-10).

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