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LOGIC

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You are on page 1of 11

I. Introduction

Statements are materially equivalent when they have the same truth

value. Because two materially equivalent statements are either both true, or

both false, we can readily see that they must (materially) imply one another,

because a false antecedent (materially) implies any statement, and a true

consequent is (materially) implied by any statement. We may therefore read

the three-bar sign, as “if and only if.”

certainly cannot be substituted for one another. Knowing that they are

materially equivalent, we know only that their truth values are the same.

The statements, “Jupiter is larger than the Earth” and “Tokyo is the capital

of Japan,” are materially equivalent because they are both true, but we

obviously cannot replace one with the other. Similarly, the statements, “All

spiders are poisonous” and “No spiders are poisonous,” are materially

equivalent simply because they are both false, but they certainly cannot

replace one another!

relationship that does permit mutual replacement. Two statements can be

equivalent in a sense much stronger than that of material equivalence. They

may be equivalent in the sense that any proposition that incorporates one of

them could just as well incorporate the other. If there is no possible case in

which one of these statements is true while the other is false, those

statements are logically equivalent.

materially equivalent as well, for they obviously have the same truth value.

Indeed, if two statements are logically equivalent, they are materially

equivalent under all circumstances.

material equivalence is a tautology.

Page 1 of 11

Figure 1 Logical Equivalence

A. Double Negation

will make this relation, and its great power, very clear. It is a

commonplace that p and ~~p mean the same thing; “he is aware of that

difficulty” and “he is not unaware of that

difficulty” are two statements with the same

content. In substance, either of these expressions may be replaced by

the other because they both say the same thing. This principle of

double negation, whose truth is obvious to all, may be exhibited in a

truth table, where the material equivalence of two statement forms is

shown to be a tautology:

Figure 2 Double Negation. This truth table proves that p and ~~p are logically equivalent.

truth value. Suppose that p is true. Its negation is false. The negation

of its negation, as shown in Figure 2, is true. Likewise, suppose p is

false. Its negation is true. The negation of true is false. Therefore, p and

its double negation are logically equivalent. To further explain,

consider the example in Figure 3 below.

Page 2 of 11

Now, claiming that logically equivalent statements can be

interchanged, p and ~~p can substitute one another. “The accused was

acquitted.” Accepting this statement as true, it can be inferred that its

negation is “The accused was not acquitted” or other similar import

i.e. “The accused was convicted.” The falsity of the negation, “It is not

the case that the accused was not acquitted” or “The accused was not

convicted”, bears the same significance as that of “The accused was

acquitted.”

false. Its negation that “Some roses are red” is true because roses have

undeniably variety of colors, and red is one of such. The negation of

its negation, “It is not the case that some roses are red” is false. Thus,

the principle of double negation as applied in the examples above, if

statements p and ~~p can replace one another, either both true or both

false, present logical equivalence.

falsehood of its negation.

logical equivalence on the other hand is very great and very

important. The former is a truth-functional connective, which may

be true or false depending only on the truth or falsity of the elements

it connects. But the latter, logical equivalence, is not a mere

connective, and it expresses a relation between two statements that

is not truth-functional. Two statements are logically equivalent only

when it is absolutely impossible for them to have different truth

values. However, if they always have the same truth value, logically

equivalent statements may be substituted for one another in any

truth-functional context without changing the truth value of that

context. By contrast, two statements are materially equivalent if

they merely happen to have the same truth value, even if there are

no factual connections between them. Statements that are merely

materially equivalent certainly may not be substituted for one

another!

Page 3 of 11

B. De Morgan’s Theorem

true biconditionals) of great importance because they express the

interrelations among conjunction and disjunction, and their negations.

Let us examine these two logical equivalences more closely.

disjunction p V q asserts no more than that at least one of its two

disjuncts is true. One cannot contradict it by asserting that at least one

is false; one must (to deny it) assert that both disjuncts are false.

Therefore, asserting the negation of the disjunction (p V q) is logically

equivalent to asserting the conjunction of the negations of p and of q. To

show this in a truth table, we may formulate the biconditional ~(p V q)

≡ (~p • ~q) , place it at the top of its own column, and examine its truth

value under all circumstances, that is, in each row.

this biconditional must always be true. It is a tautology. Because the

statement of that material equivalence is a tautology, we conclude that

its two component statements are logically equivalent. We have

proved that

Page 4 of 11

Figure 6 Example of De Morgan's Theorem (Negation of Disjunction)

are true, so to contradict this assertion we need merely assert that at

least one is false. Thus, asserting the negation of the conjunction (p • q)

is logically equivalent to asserting the disjunction of the negations of p

and of q. In symbols, the biconditional, ~(p • q) ≡ (~p V ~q) may be

shown, in a truth table, to be a tautology.

Page 5 of 11

These two tautologous biconditionals, or logical equivalences,

are known as De Morgan’s theorems, because they were formally

stated by the mathematician and logician Augustus De Morgan (1806–

1871).

(a) The negation of the disjunction of two statements is

logically equivalent to the conjunction of the negations of

the two statements;

(b) The negation of the conjunction of two statements is

logically equivalent to the disjunction of the negations of

the two statements.

C. Commutative Laws

• q) is logically equivalent to conjunction (q • p). Figure 10 proves that

both have the same truth value.

conjunctions (p • q) and (q • p) in which it can be interchanged as both

asserts the same.

Page 6 of 11

Figure 11 Example of Commutative Laws

(q V p) have the same truth value.

Page 7 of 11

Figure 14 Another form of logical equivalence

Some early thinkers, after having defined logic as “the science of the

laws of thought,” went on to assert that there are exactly three basic laws of

thought, laws so fundamental that obedience to them is both the necessary

and the sufficient condition of correct thinking. These three have

traditionally been called:

The principle of noncontradiction.

The principle of excluded middle.

true, then it is true. Using our notation we may

rephrase it by saying that the principle of identity

asserts that every statement of the form p ⊃ p must be true, that every

such statement is a tautology.

something in particular and it has characteristics that are a part of what

it is. "This leaf is red, solid, dry, rough, and flammable." "This book is

white, and has 312 pages." "This coin is round, dense, smooth, and has

a picture on it." In all three of these cases we are referring to an entity

with a specific identity; the particular type of identity, or the trait

Page 8 of 11

discussed, is not important. Their identities include all of their

features, not just those mentioned.

aspect of existing as something in particular, with specific

characteristics. An entity without an identity cannot exist because it

would be nothing. To exist is to exist as something, and that means to

exist with a particular identity.

cannot have two identities. A tree cannot be a telephone, and a dog

cannot be a cat. Each entity exists as something specific, its identity is

particular, and it cannot exist as something else. An entity can have

more than one characteristic, but any characteristic it has is a part of its

identity. A car can be both blue and red, but not at the same time or

not in the same respect. Whatever portion is blue cannot be red at the

same time, in the same way. Half the car can be red, and the other half

blue. But the whole car can't be both red and blue. These two traits,

blue and red, each have single, particular identities.

that reality has a definite nature. Since reality has an identity, it is

knowable. Since it exists in a particular way, it has no contradictions.

subject (thing) and the second element represents the predicate (its

essence), with the copula “is” signifying the relation of “identity”.

and the predicate (PERSON QUALIFIED AND AUTHORIZED TO

PRACTICE LAW) are declared to be one and the same thing

(IDENTICAL). Consequently, the Law of Identity prohibits us from

rightfully calling anything other than “a person qualified and

authorized to practice law” a “lawyer”.

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B. The principle of noncontradiction.

This principle asserts that no statement

can be both true and false. Using our notation

we may rephrase it by saying that the principle

of noncontradiction asserts that every statement of the form p • ~p

must be false, that every such statement is self-contradictory.

and not exist at the same time and in the same respect; or

no statement is both true and false.

classical logic. It states that something cannot be both true and not true

at the same time when dealing with the same context. For example, the

chair in my living room, right now, cannot be made of wood and not

made of wood at the same time. In the law of non-contradiction, where

we have a set of statements about a subject, we cannot have any of the

statements in that set negate the truth of any other statement in that

same set. For example, we have a set of two statements about Judas. 1)

Judas hanged himself. 2) Judas fell down, and his bowels spilled out.

Neither statement about Judas contradicts the other. That is, neither

statement makes the other impossible because neither excludes the

possibility of the other. The statements can be harmonized by stating:

Judas hanged himself, then his body fell down, and his bowels spilled

out.

have something like: 1) Judas hanged himself. 2) Judas did not hang

himself. Since either statement excludes the possibility of the other, we

would then have a contradiction since both could not be true.

However, to say that Judas hanged himself and Judas fell are not

contradictory since both could occur.

Page 10 of 11

C. The principle of excluded middle.

statement is either true or false. Using our

notation we may rephrase it by saying that the

principle of excluded middle asserts that every statement of the form

p V ~p must be true, that every such statement is a tautology.

does not exist; or every statement is either true or false.

between being true and being false. Every statement has to be one or

the other. That’s why it’s called the law of excluded middle, because it

excludes a middle ground between truth and falsity. So while the law

of non-contradiction tells us that no statement can be both true and

false, the law of excluded middle tells us that they must all be one or

the other.

no matter what the truth value of p is. In fact, it should be true no

matter what statement we decide p should represent. So the law of

excluded middle tells us that every statement whatsoever must be

either true or false. At first, this might not seem like a very problematic

claim. But before getting too comfortable with this idea, we might

want to consider Bertrand Russell’s famous example: “The present

King of France is bald.” Since the law of excluded middle tells us that

every statement is either true or false, the sentence “The present King

of France is bald” must be either true or false. Which is it?

unusual to claim that this sentence is true. But if we accept the law of

excluded middle, this leaves us only one option - namely, to claim that

it is false.

Page 11 of 11

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