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You are on page 1of 8

Owen Griffiths

21/01/15

Logical consequence is the central concept in philosophical logic. It is used in at

least the following ways:

1. to test the validity of natural language arguments

A theory of logical consequence should (ideally) provide:

1. an intuitive understanding of logical consequence

standing

For example, here’s a standard picture of logical consequence:

1. The intuitive concept of logical consequence is a combination of modal and

formal characteristics.

to be true and Φ false, and this is because of the meaning of the logical

vocabulary in Γ and Φ

of φ

In this class and the next, we’ll consider the intuitive character of logical conse-

quence. Then we’ll look at some precise definitions (the model-theoretic account

and its major rivals), and then we’ll consider the relations between the two.

1

2 Logical consequence as modal

One strong intuition is that logical consequence is a modal relation:

true and Φ false.

In ancient logic:

something different from those things supposed results of necessity be-

cause those things are so’ (Aristotle, Prior Analytics: Book 1, ch. 2)

Similarly Chrysippus: ‘A man is running’ implies ‘An animal is moving’ (see Gould

1970: 80-1) .

In medieval logic, necessary truth-preservation was the distinctive feature of

logical consequence. E.g. Buridan, The Treatise on Consequences:

the form the same (§1.4.2)

A consequence for which not every equiform sentence would be an ac-

ceptable consequence is called material (§1.4.3)

This is an early example of the formal/ material validity distinction.

Formal An argument is formally valid iff it has a form all of whose instances are

truth-preserving.

not formally valid.

In modern logic:

derstand it, is a modal relation that holds between implying sentence

and the sentence implied. (Etchemendy 1990: 81)

clusion for whatever reason (Read 1994: 264)

its necessity. The truth of the premises of a valid argument necessitates

the truth of the conclusion of the argument (Beall & Restall 2006: 14)

2

3 Logical consequence as non-modal

Many have taken material truth-preservation to be sufficient for logical consequence,

without a modal requirement.

In the 4th-century BC, Philo of Megara took an argument to be valid just if it

is not the case that the premises are true and conclusion false, e.g. ‘It is light’ is

a Philonian consequence of ‘It is day’ (see Gould 1970: 78-82 and Kneale & Kneale

1962: 128-38).

Philo Φ is a Philonean consequence of Γ iff it is not the case that all members of

Γ are true and Φ is false

p should be true and that the proposition “not-p or q” should be true

... what is required further is only required for the practical feasibility

of the inference. (Russell 1919: 153)

... with respect to variable parts i, j, ..., if every class of ideas whose

substitution i, j, ..., makes all of A, B, C, D, ... true, also makes all of

M , N , O, ... true’ (Bolzano 1837: §155)

of their kind or form (Bolzano 1837: §147)

Bolzano adds that the ‘follows of necessity’ in Aristotle ‘can hardly be interpreted in

any other way than this: that the conclusion becomes true whenever the premises are

true’. This is because ‘there can be no doubt that Aristotle assumed that the relation

of deducibility can also hold between false propostions’ (Bolzano 1837: §155n1).

Tarski is another philosopher who take logical consequence to be primarily a formal

notion:

and thus with a relation which is uniquely determined by the form of

the sentences between which it holds (1936: 414).

The truth of the premises must somehow guarantee the truth of the con-

clusion. It is this guarantee of truth-preservation that gives rise to the

familiar modal descriptions of the consequence relation. ... Tarski him-

self, not surprisingly, recognized this guarantee to be the central feature

3

of the “ordinary concept” of consequence (Etchemendy 1990: 82-3)

sequence is as follows: Assume σ is a logical consequence of Γ. Then

it is impossible that all the sentences of Γ are true and σ is false (Sher

1996: 654)

Why might they think this?

it can be proved, on the basis of this definition, that every consequence

of true sentences must be true (Tarski 1936: 417, my italics)

But this ‘must’ just indicates that the scheme holds universally (see Kneale 1961: 96-

7). Further, as Smiley (1998: §5) notes, ‘in keeping with the positivism of his day,

Tarski wanted nothing to do with modality’.

A more recent example is Quine:

First we define a grammatical form as logically valid if all sentences of

that form are true. Next we define a sentence as logically true if it has

a logically valid grammatical form. Finally we say that one sentence

logically implies another if the conditional sentence, formed of these sen-

tences in that order by applying ‘if’ to the one and ‘then’ to the other,

is logically true. (Quine 1980: 17)

Generally, MacFarlane uses the label logical hylomorphism for ‘the tradition of

characterizing logic as distinctively formal ’ (2000: 6). Other examples are Kant and

Frege (see MacFarlane 2000: 20-2).

A prominent tradition rejects logical hylomorphism by arguing that material validity

is equally important, e.g.

1. Ian is a bachelor; so Ian is unmarried

We have seen that Chrysippus and Philo would accept these as valid.

Similarly, King writes that

Mediaeval logic is also nonformal. That is, mediaeval logic deals with in-

ferences and assertions that do not hold in virtue of their formal features

as well as those that do.’ (King 2001: 135)

Other medieval authors who reject logical hylomorphism are Henry Hopton, Robert

Fland, Richard Billingham and Ralph Strode (see Boh 2001: 155-6) as well as Ock-

ham and the Pseudo-Scotus (see Read 2013).

Finally, in modern logic:

4

there is little reason to think that form has much to do with logic at all

(Etchemendy 1983: 334)

the belief that every valid argument is valid in virtue of form is a myth

(Read 1994: 264)

1967: 125)

6 Other intuitions

1. Relevance: the conclusion must be relevant to the premises to rule out e.g. ex

falso quodlibet

entails φ. This pulls apart from necessary truth-preservation on the assump-

tion of Kripkean necessary a a posteriori truths.

jects. This rules out any logics that are not inclusive (see Quine 1954) or

universal free (see e.g. Meyer & Lambert 1968).

This would rule out second-order logic (with full semantics).

7 Tarskian consequence

‘The intuitive concept of logical consequence’ is a myth: there is a historical mess of

intuitions, all of which have been challenged by philosophers central to the tradition.

Smiley expresses the situation well:

it – is central to argument. It is, however, an idea that comes with a

history attached to it, and those who blithely appeal to an ‘intuitive’

or ‘pre-theoretic’ idea of consequence are likely to got hold of just one

strand in a string of diverse theories. (Smiley 1998: §0)

Tarski was aware of this, and recent authors would do well to remember it:

field of strict formal investigation was not a matter of arbitrary decision

on the part of this or that investigator; in defining this concept; efforts

were made to adhere to the common usage of the language of everyday

life (Tarski 1936: 409)

cepts of everyday language. Its extension is not sharply bounded and its

5

usage fluctuates. Any attempt to bring into harmony all possible vague,

sometimes contradictory, tendencies which are connected with the use of

this concept, is certainly doomed to failure. We must reconcile ourselves

from the start to the fact that every precise definition of this concept

will show arbitrary features to a greater or less degree (Tarski 1936: 409)

There are several problems presented here:

1. There is no single intuitive concept of logical consequence

2. The intuitions that we have about logical consequence are contradictory

3. The inuitions that we have about logical consequence are vague

1. is a problem, since it shows that our target is unclear. 2. is a problem because

we cannot hope to account for all intuitions about consequence. 3. is a problem

because, even if we take one strand of our intuitions, its extension is vague. But the

extension of precise notions is not vague.

Tarski’s response is to accept that there is no one intuitive notion, but instead

take one of the major intuitions – the thought that logic is formal – and develop it

so that it does not have a vague extension.

Let’s begin to work towards Tarski’s concept of formal consequence. He begins

his 1936 paper by noting that deductive approaches cannot be satisfactory, due to

the ω rule:

(ω) P (0), P (1), ...; so for all natural numbers n, P (n)

But,

intuitively it seems certain that the universal sentence A follows in the

usual sense from the totality of particular sentences A0 , A1 , ..., An ... how-

ever much we supplement the ordinary rules of inference by new purely

structural rules, it is possible to construct sentences which follow, in

the usual sense, from the theorems of this theory, but which nevertheless

cannot be proved in this theory on the basis of accepted rules of inference

(Tarski 1936: 411–2)

This criticism has generally been accepted by proponents of proof-theoretic

consequence today, who instead support the more sophisticated project of proof-

theoretic semantics (a subject for a later class).

Instead, we should be concerned ‘with the concept of logical, i.e. formal, conse-

quence, and thus with a relation which is uniquely determined by the form of the

sentences between which it holds’ (1936: 414).

This relation ‘cannot be affected by replacing the designations of the objects

referred to in these sentences by the designations of any other objects’ (1936: 415).

(F) If, in the sentences of class K and in the sentence X, the constants – apart from

purely logical constants – are replaced by any other constants (like signs being

everywhere replaced by like signs), and if we denote the class of sentences thus

obtained from K by K 0 , and the sentence obtained from X by X 0 , then the

sentence X 0 must be true provided only that all sentences of the class K 0 are

true. (Tarski 1936: 415)

6

Tarski then notes that (F) is a necessary condition for logical consequence but cannot

be sufficient because the language may be expressively weak.

The notions of satisfaction of a sentential function and of model provide Tarski

with the solution to this problem.

(T) The sentence X follows logically from the sentences of the class K if and only

if every model of the class K is also a model of the sentence K.

Satisfaction is a semantic relation that holds between objects (or sequences of ob-

jects) and sentential functions (sentences containing free variables, which we would

today call open sentences). In particular, an object (or sequence of objects) satisfies

an open sentence just if the result of assigning to each free variable, taken in order,

the object, taken in order, is a true sentence.

satisfaction is the concept of model. Let us assume that in the language

we are considering certain variables correspond to every extra-logical

constant, and in such a way that every sentence becomes a sentential

function if the constants in it are replaced by the corresponding variables.

Let L be any class of sentences. We replace all extra-logical constants

which occur in the sentences belonging to L by corresponding variables,

like constants being replaced by like variables, and unlike by unlike.

In this way we obtain a class L0 of sentential functions. An arbitrary

sequence of objects which satisfies every sentential function of the class

L0 will be called a model or realization of the class L of sentences (Tarski

1936: 416-7).

For Tarski, we form a sentence’s sentential function by keeping the logical constants

unchanged and replacing the non-logical constants uniformly by variables (same

constants to the same variable, distinct constants to distinct variables) of the ap-

propriate sort. A Tarskian model of a set of sentences is a sequence of objects that

satisfies the sentential function of each member of that set.

References

Beall J. & Restall G. 2006. Logical Pluralism. Oxford: Clarendon.

Boh I. 2001. Consequence in the post- Ockham period. In M. Yrjönsuuri (ed), Me-

dieval Formal Logic, 147–82. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Bolzano B. 1837. Wissenschaftslehre. Oxford: Blackwell, 1972. Refs. to 1972 partial

trans. by R. George, Theory of Science.

Davidson D. 1967. The logical form of action sentences. In Essays on Actions and

Events, 105–22. Oxford: Clarendon. Refs to 1980 reprint.

Etchemendy J. 1983. The doctrine of logic as form. Linguistics and Philosophy 6:

319–34.

———. 1990. The Concept of Logical Consequence. Cambridge MA: Harvard.

Gould J.B. 1970. The Philosophy of Chrysippus. vol. XVII of Philosophia Antiqua.

Leiden.

7

King P. 2001. Consequence as inference: Mediaeval proof theory 1300-1350. In Me-

dieval Formal Logic, 117–46. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Kneale W. 1961. Universality and necessity. The British Journal for the Philosophy

of Science 46: 89–102.

Kneale W. & Kneale M. 1962. The Development of Logic. Oxford: Clarendon.

MacFarlane J. 2000. What Does it Mean to Say that Logic is Formal? . PhD thesis.

Meyer R.K. & Lambert K. 1968. Universally free logic and standard quantification

theory. The Journal of Symbolic Logic 33: 8–26.

Quine W. 1954. Quantification and the empty domain. The Journal of Symbolic

Logic 19: 177–9.

———. 1980. Grammar, truth, and logic. In S. Kanger & S. Öhman (eds), Philos-

ophy and Grammar, 17–28. Dordrecht: D. Reidel.

Read S. 1994. Formal and material consequence. Journal of Philosophical Logic 23:

247–65.

———. 2013. Identity and harmony revisited. Unpublished .

Russell B. 1919. Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy. London: Routledge.

Sher G. 1996. Did Tarski commit Tarski’s fallacy? The Journal of Symbolic Logic

61: 653–86.

Smiley T. 1998. Conceptions of consequence. In The Routledge Encyclopedia of Phi-

losophy, London: Routledge.

Tarski A. 1936. On the concept of logical consequence. In Logic, Semantics, Meta-

mathematics, 409–20. Indianapolis: Hackett. 2nd edition. Trans. J. Woodger.

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