Logical Revisionism: Logical Rules vs. Structural Rules

Abstract : As far as logic is concerned, the conclusion of Michael Dummett's manifestability argument is that intuitionistic logic, as first developed by Heyting, satisfies the semantic requirements of antirealism. The argument may be roughly sketched as follows: since we cannot manifest a grasp of possibly justification-transcendent truth conditions, we must countenance conditions which are such that, at least in principle and by the very nature of the case, we are able to recognize that they are satisfied whenever they are. Intuitionistic logic satisfies the semantic requirement that we should either eschew the notion of truth altogether and replace it by provability in principle, or constrain it by provability in principle (Dummett [1973] 1978). (Handout: 1-5). Some philosophers have argued that the traditional antirealist desideratum of decidability in principle is too weak, so that semantic antirealism properly construed must be committed to effective decidability. As such, it either leads to strict finitism (Wright [1982] 1993) [Handout: 6] or to a much stronger kind of logical revisionism than the one considered by intuitionists (whether or not they accept the manifestability argument): substructural logics, and in particular linear logics, rather than intuitionistic logic, satisfy the semantic requirements of strict antirealism (Dubucs and Marion 2004) [Handout: 8-9]. I shall develop two different kinds of replies. The first is concerned with the notion of meaning per se and looks to strict finitism directly, although not on the ground that it would provide a correct way of dealing with Soritic-type paradoxes (the original and primary focus of discussion in Wright [1982] 1993). The second is concerned with the justification of structural and logical rules in a natural deduction system à la Gentzen. It will deal in particular with the criticism of the structural rules of Weakening and Contraction [Handout: 10 and 11]. The first kind of reply, which Dummett has partially taken into consideration, is that if we jettison the effectively vs. in principle distinction, as applied to manifestability-type arguments, we end up with an unsatisfactory explanation of how the meaning of statements covering the practically unsurveyable or pro tempora undecided cases is fixed. The idea is that if we have a method which may be used over some small range, we have determined a way of applying the method everywhere in principle and that this is enough as far as fixing meaning is concerned. Decidability in principle is just what we need with respect to manifestation of grasp of meaning. In this perspective, antirealism shouldn't be strict and manifestability-type arguments need not be applied as far as the strict finitist would want to [Handout: 7]. It follows that there is no reason to think that practical feasibility should be built in assertibility conditions and proofs be construed dynamically as acts in the strict antirealist's acception of that term [Handout: 8]. I shall then look at one radical antirealist principle disqualifying structural rules, namely Token Preservation, arguing against Bonnay and Cozic's criticisms of Dubucs and Marion (Bonnay and Cozic 3 2007) that some conceptual support may be provided for Token Preservation, which doesn't rely on a causal misreading of the turnstile [Handout: 13, 14]. I shall then assess the merits and limits of radical antirealism and the logic of feasible proofs with respect to the original Dummettian argument in favour of semantic antirealism (provided it has indeed revisionist implications for logic), whether the radical antirealist merely stipulates what human feasibility amounts to, or dispenses with structural rules in order to argue in favour of a curb on the epistemic idealizations they unwarrantedly embed. It will be noted here that there is a great difference, conceptually speaking, between the rejection of classical logic via the curbing of the epistemic idealizations embedded in structural rules, and the rejection of classical logic via the criticism of the introduction and elimination rules which fix the meaning of the classical constants. The kind of logical revisionism envisaged by intuitionists from Heyting on is in many respects stronger than the one envisaged by advocates of linear logic, should they ground their arguments on an endorsement of strict antirealism. The crucial case of excluded middle is telling. Because of the splitting of the constants in linear logic (Handout: 12], two distinct laws of excluded middle may be formulated (Handout: 15), but the traditional arguments of Brouwer and Heyting against the classical law yield a stronger revision than the substructural revision with its admission of these two (very) weak versions of the law. (Project: a clearer conception is needed of how the introduction and elimination rules for the logical connectives in the intuitionistic calculus depend on the structural rules which the radical antirealist wishes to reject.)
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Fabrice Pataut. Logical Revisionism: Logical Rules vs. Structural Rules. Science, Philosophie, Société : IVe Congrès de la Société de Philosophie des Sciences (SPS), Jun 2012, Montréal, Canada. ⟨halshs-00792338⟩

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