28 May 2018

Priest (2.7) An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic, ‘Modal Actualism,’ summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

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[The following is summary of Priest’s text, which is already written with maximum efficiency. Bracketed commentary and boldface are my own, unless otherwise noted. I do not have specialized training in this field, so please trust the original text over my summarization. I apologize for my typos and other unfortunate mistakes, because I have not finished proofreading, and I also have not finished learning all the basics of these logics.]

 

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Graham Priest

 

An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is

 

Part I

Propositional Logic

 

2.

Basic Modal Logic

 

2.7

Modal Actualism

 

 

 

 

Brief summary:

(2.7.1) Under modal actualism, possible worlds are understood not as physically real entities, like in modal realism, but rather as abstract entities, like numbers. (2.7.2) One version of modal actualism understands a possible world as a set of propositions or other language-like entities and as being “individuated by the set of things true at it, which is just the set of propositions it contains” (29). (2.7.3) One problem with the propositional understanding of possible worlds is that there are many sorts of sets of propositions, but not all constitute worlds. For example, “a set that contains two propositions but not their conjunction could not be a possible world” (29). (2.7.4) A big problem with the propositional understanding of possible worlds is that in order for propositions to form a world, we need to know which inferences follow validly from others. Then, after knowing that, we can apply the mathematical machinery to explain which inferences are valid. But as you can see, the mathematical machinery, which is was we are trying to substantiate with this propositional account, is made useless, as it is what is supposed to determine validity, not take validity ready-made and redundantly confirm it. (2.7.5) To avoid this problem of validity, there is another sort of modal actualism called combinatorialism. Here a possible world is understood as “the set of things in this world, rearranged in a different way. So in this world, my house is in Australia, and not China; but rearrange things, and it could be in China, and not Australia” (30). (2.7.6) Because arrangements are abstract objects, combinatorialism is a sort of modal actualism. And because combinations can be explained without the notion of validity, combinatorialism avoids the problems of validity that the propositional understanding suffered from. (2.7.7) One big problem with combinatorialism is that it is unable to generate all possible worlds. For, there could be objects in other possible worlds not found in our world or in any other possible world obtained by rearranging the objects in our world.

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

2.7.1

[Modal Actualism: Possible Worlds as Abstract Entities]

 

2.7.2

[Version 1: Possible Worlds as Sets of Propositions]

 

2.7.3

[Problem of Defining Possible Worlds in Terms of Proposition Sets]

 

2.7.4

[The Problem of Assuming Validity in the Propositional Understanding]

 

2.7.5

[Version 2: Combinatorialism]

 

2.7.6

[Combinatorialism as a Modal Actualism and as Free from Problems of Validity]

 

2.7.7

[Combinatorialism’s Limitation]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

2.7.1

[Modal Actualism: Possible Worlds as Abstract Entities]

 

[Under modal actualism, possible worlds are understood not as physically real entities, like in modal realism, but rather as abstract entities, like numbers.]

 

[Let me quote from our review for the prior section 2.6, found at the beginning of section 2.6.1:

Recall from section 2.5 some of the following ideas. Modal logic uses the intuitive notion of a possible world, but as we saw, it is formulated using mathematical machinery where it is not obvious what any of it has to do with the metaphysics of possible worlds. The assumption is that the mathematics somehow represents “something or other which underlies the correctness of the notion of validity” (p.28, section 2.5). For example:

no one supposes that truth is simply the number 1. But that number, and the way that it behaves in truth-functional semantics, are able to represent truth, because the structure of their machinations corresponds to the structure of truth’s own machinations. This explains why truth-functional validity works (when it does).

(Priest p.28, section 2.5)

So Priest ended by asking, “what exactly, in reality, does the mathematical machinery of possible worlds represent? Possible worlds, of course (what else?). But what are they?” (p.28, section 2.5).

Then in section 2.6 we gave as one potential answer that the mathematical entities for possible worlds are simply other real physical worlds that exist in different times or places. This is called ‘modal realism’. Now we consider another view, called ‘modal actualism’. It regards possible worlds as existing, but not physically so. Rather, they are abstract entities, like numbers.]

Another possibility (frequently termed ‘modal actualism’) is that, though possible worlds exist, they are not the physical entities that the modal realist takes them to be. They are entities of a different kind: specifically, abstract entities (like numbers, assuming there to be such things).

(29)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

2.7.2

[Version 1: Possible Worlds as Sets of Propositions]

 

[One version of modal actualism understands a possible world as a set of propositions or other language-like entities and as being “individuated by the set of things true at it, which is just the set of propositions it contains” (29).]

 

[Priest notes there are different ways to construe possible worlds as abstract entities. The first that he considers is to think of them as sets of propositions or “other language-like entities.” As such, we could understand a possible world as being “individuated by the set of things true at it, which is just the set of propositions it contains” (29).]

What kind of abstract entities? There are several possible candidates here. A natural one is to take them to be sets of propositions, or other language-like entities. Crudely, a possible world is individuated by the set of things true at it, which is just the set of propositions it contains.

(29)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

2.7.3

[Problem of Defining Possible Worlds in Terms of Proposition Sets]

 

[One problem with the propositional understanding of possible worlds is that there are many sorts of sets of propositions, but not all constitute worlds. For example, “a set that contains two propositions but not their conjunction could not be a possible world” (29).]

 

[Priest next notes a problem with this understanding. It is not clear which sets will qualify as a world, because surely there are many sets that are not possible worlds; “For example, a set that contains two propositions but not their conjunction could not be a possible world” (29).]

But a problem arises with this suggestion when one asks which sets are worlds? Clearly not all sets are possible worlds. For example, a set that contains two propositions but not their conjunction could not be a possible world.

(29)

[contents]

 

 

 

2.7.4

[The Problem of Assuming Validity in the Propositional Understanding]

 

[A big problem with the propositional understanding of possible worlds is that in order for propositions to form a world, we need to know which inferences follow validly from others. Then, after knowing that, we can apply the mathematical machinery to explain which inferences are valid. But as you can see, the mathematical machinery, which is was we are trying to substantiate with this propositional account, is made useless, as it is what is supposed to determine validity, not take validity ready-made and redundantly confirm it.]

 

[Priest notes now a big problem with this conception. The mathematical machinery of possible worlds semantics is supposed to explain why certain inferences are valid and why certain others are invalid. (But for this propositional understanding of possible worlds to work, that means whenever true propositions in a world entail another, the other must be true too ((that is to say, the world must be closed under valid inference.)) So there is a problem here. I probably will express it incorrectly, so see the quotation below. Let me first put together what Priest is saying. The mathematical machinery is supposed to explain which propositions are valid. This also means that the notion of a world is needed to explain validity. But under this propositional notion of possible worlds, we need already to have a notion of validity to determine which propositions form a world. This means that the notion of validity is required to explain the notion of a world. And thus, it is not the mathematical machinery that explains why certain inferences are valid and others not. But then, what is the point of the mathematical machinery if it is not what is determining validity? See the quote, as I probably have this wrong.)]

For a set of propositions to form a world, it must at least be closed under valid inference. (If a proposition is true at a world, and it entails | another, then so is that.) But there’s the rub. The machinery of worlds was meant to explain why certain inferences, and not others, are valid. But it now seems that the notion of validity is required to explain the notion of world – not the other way around.

(29-30)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

2.7.5

[Version 2: Combinatorialism]

 

[To avoid this problem of validity, there is another sort of modal actualism called combinatorialism. Here a possible world is understood as “the set of things in this world, rearranged in a different way. So in this world, my house is in Australia, and not China; but rearrange things, and it could be in China, and not Australia” (30).]

 

[Priest next mentions another sort of modal actualism called combinatorialism, which can avoid this problem mentioned above in section 2.7.4. Here we think of a possible world simply as a variation on our world where the things in it are arranged in a different way. For example, “So in this world, my house is in Australia, and not China; but rearrange things, and it could be in China, and not Australia.” (Note the possible relevance of this to Leibnizian compossible worlds. God calculates all combinations of predicates for each individual substance, along with all combinations of individual substances, along with all combinations of laws for the worlds. In order for the combination to form a singular world, the predicates of one individual substance cannot preclude those of another substance, like your parents meeting only after you are supposed to be born. Deleuze notes that this incompossibility is not a matter of the logical contradiction of the predicates but rather that the overall combination of all individual substances with their predicates cannot form one world where they all allow for one another’s combined existence. Rather than all individual substances converging into one world, they rather diverge into incompossible worlds. And so since this divergence is not determined by contradiction, Deleuze says that convergence and divergence are matters of “alogical” compatibilities and incompatibilities. In a vaguely similar way, we are here understanding combinations of worldly facts as not inherently involving validity. And since logic is the science of valid inference, then perhaps this combinational understanding of possible worlds can be seen as being vaguely similar to what Deleuze calls the alogical notion of compatibility and incompatibility.)]

A variation of actualism which avoids this problem is known as ‘combinatorialism’. A possible world is merely the set of things in this world, rearranged in a different way. So in this world, my house is in Australia, and not China; but rearrange things, and it could be in China, and not Australia.

(30)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

2.7.6

[Combinatorialism as a Modal Actualism and as Free from Problems of Validity]

 

[Because arrangements are abstract objects, combinatorialism is a sort of modal actualism. And because combinations can be explained without the notion of validity, combinatorialism avoids the problems of validity that the propositional understanding suffered from.]

 

[The reason why combinatorialism is a sort of modal actualism is because the arrangement itself is an abstract object, even if the arranged things are not. Also, it avoids the objection regarding validity that we saw in section 2.7.4, because we can “explain what combinations there are without invoking the notion of validity” (30).]

Combinatorialism is still a version of actualism, because an arrangement is, in fact, an abstract object. It is a set of objects with a certain structure. But it avoids the previous objection, since one may explain what combinations there are without invoking the notion of validity.

(30)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

2.7.7

[Combinatorialism’s Limitation]

 

[One big problem with combinatorialism is that it is unable to generate all possible worlds. For, there could be objects in other possible worlds not found in our world or in any other possible world obtained by rearranging the objects in our world.]

 

[But there is a problem also with combinatorialism. Possible worlds are different arrangements of the things in our world. But there could be an object in another world that neither exists in our world nor in any other world obtained by rearranging the objects in our world. “Hence, there are possible worlds which cannot be delivered by combinatorialism” (30).]

But combinatorialism has its own problems. For example, it would seem to be entirely possible that there is an object such that neither it nor any of its parts exist in this world. It is clear, though, that such an object could not exist in any world obtained simply by rearranging the objects in this world. Hence, there are possible worlds which cannot be delivered by combinatorialism.

(30)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

From:

 

Priest, Graham. 2008 [2001]. An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University.

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

27 May 2018

Priest (8.6) Introduction to Non-Classical Logic, ‘Paraconsistency and the Disjunctive Syllogism,’ summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Logic and Semantics, entry directory]

[Graham Priest, entry directory]

[Priest, Introduction to Non-Classical Logic, entry directory]

 

[The following is summary of Priest’s text, which is already written with maximum efficiency. Bracketed commentary and boldface are my own, unless otherwise noted. I do not have specialized training in this field, so please trust the original text over my summarization. I apologize for my typos and other distracting mistakes, because I have not finished proofreading.]

 

 

Summary of

 

Graham Priest

 

An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is

 

Part I

Propositional Logic

 

8

First Degree Entailment

 

8.6

Paraconsistency and the Disjunctive Syllogism

 

 

 

Brief summary:

(8.6.1) On account of truth-value gluts, p ∧ ¬p q is not valid in FDE, and thus FDE does not suffer from explosion (which happens when contradictions entail any arbitrary formula and thus a contradiction entails everything). (8.6.2) Both FDE  and LP  are paraconsistent logics, because in them it is invalid to infer any arbitrary formula from a contradiction. (8.6.3) Disjunctive syllogism (p, ¬p q q) fails in FDE (set p to b and q to 0; b is a designated value but is not preserved), and it fails in LP (set p to i and q to 0.; i is a designated value, but it also is not preserved ). (8.6.4) Arguments for the material and strict conditional that use disjunctive syllogism are thus faulty on account of its invalidity (in FDE and LP). (8.6.5) Because disjunctive syllogism fails for the material conditional in FDE, so too does modus ponens fail for it as well, given their equivalence. This suggests that the material conditional does not adequately represent the real conditional. (8.6.6) Those who argue that disjunctive syllogism is intuitively valid can do so only by showing that truth-value gluts are invalid. They think that by saying one of two disjuncts is false (in a true disjunction) necessities the other disjunct be true. But we can also have the intuition that certain formulas should be both true and false. And suppose one of the disjuncts is ¬p, and suppose that p is both true and false. That does not necessitate that ¬p be just false; for, it would also be both true and false. In other words: “The truth of p does not rule out the truth of ¬p: both may hold” (154). Since ¬p is at least true, it does not necessitate that the other disjunct be true, and so we cannot infer that the other disjunct is true. For, only one needs to be at least true. So if we start with the intuition that there can be truth-value gluts, then disjunctive syllogism is intuitively invalid. (8.6.7) A more convincing defense of the disjunctive syllogism is that we rely on it for reasoning well. Often times we know either of two things can be true; when one proves false, we know it must be the other one. (8.6.8) Even though disjunctive syllogism is invalid, it still functions quite well for normal everyday reasoning. It only fails when there is a truth-value glut. Otherwise, our daily life presents us normally with consistencies, so it will still deliver correct inferences usually. We just need to be careful to distinguish those cases with gluts and remember not to use it then. (8.6.9) There is precedent for this sort of discrimination of situations for appropriate inference uses in mathematics, so we should not feel too uncomfortable with it in cases of logical reasoning. For example, when dealing with finite sets, if one set is a  proper subset of another, we can infer that it is smaller. But for infinite sets, we cannot draw that inference. For example, the set of even numbers is a proper subset of the set of natural numbers, but both sets have the same size. (8.6.10) Since we are wiling to accept inference discrimination in mathematics, we can surely accept it in logic, and so we can set aside the objection that we must reject truth-value gluts (or that we need the material conditional) simply because we need disjunctive syllogism to reason properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

8.6.1

[The Lack of Explosion in FDE]

 

8.6.2

[FDE and LP as Paraconsistent Logics, Here Defined]

 

8.6.3

[The Failure of Disjunctive Syllogism in FDE and LP]

 

8.6.4

[Disjunctive Syllogism as Inoperable in Defenses of the Material and Strict Conditionals]

 

8.6.5

[The Failure of Modus Ponens for the Material Conditional in FDE]

 

8.6.6

[The Intuitive Invalidity of Disjunctive Syllogism]

 

8.6.7

[Disjunctive Syllogism as Possibly Needed for Reasoning]

 

8.6.8

[Disjunctive Syllogism as Normally Correct Despite Being Invalid]

 

8.6.9

[The Precedent for Inference Discriminations in Mathematics]

 

8.6.10

[Putting the Objection Aside]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

8.6.1

[The Lack of Explosion in FDE]

 

[On account of truth-value gluts, p ∧ ¬p q is not valid in FDE, and thus FDE does not suffer from explosion (which happens when contradictions entail any arbitrary formula and thus a contradiction entails everything).]

 

[Recall from section 8.4.8 that the tableau for p ∧ ¬p q in FDE is open and thus it is invalid in FDE. Priest notes now that this is because of truth-value gluts. (Priest here uses semantic entailment: p ∧ ¬p q. Recall from section 8.4.4 that the designated values in FDE are 1 and b. ((And recall from section 7.2.2 that designated values are those that are preserved in valid inferences.)) So an inference in FDE is valid only if there is no interpretation that assigns all the premises 1 or b and the conclusion 0 or n. But suppose for p ∧ ¬p q that q is 0 and p is b (meaning both values, and thus a glut). That makes ¬p be b also (see section 8.4.2). Then we have all the premises as b and the conclusion as 0, and thus on account of the truth-value glut of b, this formula is not valid.) And recall from section 8.4.11 that p q ∨¬q also makes an open tableau in FDE and is thus invalid. Priest notes now that it is so on account of truth-value gaps. (Suppose p is 1 and q is n ((meaning neither value, a gap)). That makes the whole conclusion n ((again, see section 8.4.2)), and thus the premises are 1 but the conclusion is n, making it invalid.) Now recall from section 4.8 that explosion is when contradictions entail any arbitrary formula and thus a contradiction entails everything. As we can see, since p ∧ ¬p q is invalid in FDE, that means FDE does not have the problem of explosion.] 

As we have seen (8.4.8 and 8.4.11), both of the following are false in FDE: pq ∨ ¬q, p ∧ ¬p q. This is essentially because there are truth-value gaps (for the former) and truth-value gluts (for the latter). In particular, then, FDE does not suffer from the problem of explosion (4.8).

(154)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

8.6.2

[FDE and LP as Paraconsistent Logics, Here Defined]

 

[Both FDE  and LP  are paraconsistent logics, because in them it is invalid to infer any arbitrary formula from a contradiction.]

 

[Priest now gives the criteria for a paraconsistent logic. To be paraconsistent, the inference from p and ¬p to an arbitrary conclusion must be invalid. As we saw in section 8.6.1, p ∧ ¬p q is invalid in FDE, thus FDE is a paraconsistent logic. And recall from section 7.4.4 that: p ∧ ¬pLP  q. Thus LP is also a paraconsistent logic.] 

A logic in which the inference from p and ¬p to an arbitrary conclusion is not valid is called paraconsistent. FDE is therefore paraconsistent, as is LP (7.4.4).

(154)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

8.6.3

[The Failure of Disjunctive Syllogism in FDE and LP]

 

[Disjunctive syllogism (p, ¬p q q) fails in FDE (set p to b and q to 0; b is a designated value but is not preserved), and it fails in LP (set p to i and q to 0.; i is a designated value, but it also is not preserved ).]

 

[The disjunctive syllogism is: p, ¬p q q. But in FDE it fails. Suppose that p is both true and false, but q is just false. That means ¬is both true and false (see section 8.2.6). With q being false, that means ¬p q is both true and false. Since the premises are all at least true and the conclusion false, that makes the inference invalid (see section 8.2.8, or use the validity criteria from section 8.4.4: the premises can be b but the conclusion 0.) Disjunctive syllogism also fails in LP (similarly set the value of p to i and q to 0. In LP, i is a designated value, but it is not preserved in the disjunctive syllogism. See section 7.4 for more on LP.)] 

It is not only explosion that fails in FDE (and LP). The disjunctive syllogism (DS) is also invalid: p, ¬p q FDE q. (Relational counter-model: pρ1 and pρ0, but just qρ0.)

(154)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

8.6.4

[Disjunctive Syllogism as Inoperable in Defenses of the Material and Strict Conditionals]

 

[Arguments for the material and strict conditional that use disjunctive syllogism are thus faulty on account of its invalidity (in FDE and LP).]

 

[Recall from section 1.7.2 that there are technically valid material conditionals that intuitively are invalid on account of the irrelevance of the consequent to the antecedent. (And in section 1.10 we saw a way of arguing for the intuitive validity of the material conditional that converts it into a disjunction (AB becomes ¬AB); we then assume A and use disjunctive syllogism to derive B. I did not follow this section well enough, but my guess was that the logical connection between A and B was shown in its validation through disjunctive syllogism. Priest says now that this is a problematic argument, but I do not know why. I am guessing it is because it validates irrelevant conditionals. So maybe the idea now is that because disjunctive syllogism grounds the material conditional, and because the material conditional suffers from irrelevance, then perhaps there is something wrong with the disjunctive syllogism. These are guesses.) And recall from section 4.9.2 how C.I. Lewis uses disjunctive syllogism to argue for the intuitive validity of explosive arguments where any irrelevant conclusion can be inferred from a contradiction. The following comes from our paragraph summary from that section:

C.I. Lewis argues that (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B is intuitively valid, because from A ∧ ¬A it is intuitively valid to infer A and ¬A; from ¬A it is intuitively valid to infer ¬A B, and from A and ¬A B it is intuitively valid, by disjunctive syllogism, to derive B. [Now, if each step has a connection on the basis of its intuitive validity, that means the final conclusion B should have a connection, by extension, to A ∧ ¬A on the basis of the intuitively valid steps leading from the premise to the final conclusion. So despite objections to the contrary, there is a connection between the antecedent and consequent in (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B, according to Lewis.]

(paragraph summary of section 4.9.2. These are not Priest’s words and are probably mistaken.)

Priest’s point seems to be that these defenses for the material and strict conditionals fail, because they use disjunctive syllogism, which is not valid in situations where there are value-gluts. But I am not really sure how that applies, because these defenses assume there cannot be value-gluts, as they use classical logic. Let me quote:]

This is a significant plus. We have seen the DS involved in two problematic arguments: the argument for the material conditional of 1.10, and the Lewis argument for explosion of 4.9.2.We can now see that these arguments do not work, and (at least one reason) why.6

(154)

6. For good measure, the argument of 4.9.3 for the validity of the inference from A to B ∨ ¬B is also invalid in FDE, since p ⊭ (p q) ∨ (p ∧ ¬q), as may be checked.

(154)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

8.6.5

[The Failure of Modus Ponens for the Material Conditional in FDE]

 

[Because disjunctive syllogism fails for the material conditional in FDE, so too does modus ponens fail for it as well, given their equivalence. This suggests that the material conditional does not adequately represent the real conditional.]

 

[I do not follow the next idea, but let me work through it. “Note, also, that the DS is just modus ponens for the material conditional” (Priest 154). This is what we found I think in section 4.9.2. There we noted that (not Priest’s words and so do not trust them:) “By modus ponens, from A, A B we can infer B. And, A B is equivalent ¬A B. And as we see, by disjunctive syllogism from A, ¬A B we can infer B.” Next Priest writes “Since this fails, we have another argument against the adequacy of the material conditional to represent the real conditional” (Priest 154). (I am a little confused here. Modus ponens also fails for the conditional in LP (see section 7.4.5). Does this criticism apply also to LP? I will quote.)]

Note, also, that the DS is just modus ponens for the material conditional. Since this fails, we have another argument against the adequacy of the material conditional to represent the real conditional.

(154)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

8.6.6

[The Intuitive Invalidity of Disjunctive Syllogism]

 

[Those who argue that disjunctive syllogism is intuitively valid can do so only by showing that truth-value gluts are invalid. They think that by saying one of two disjuncts is false (in a true disjunction) necessities the other disjunct be true. But we can also have the intuition that certain formulas should be both true and false. And suppose one of the disjuncts is ¬p, and suppose that p is both true and false. That does not necessitate that ¬p be just false; for, it would also be both true and false. In other words: “The truth of p does not rule out the truth of ¬p: both may hold” (154). Since ¬p is at least true, it does not necessitate that the other disjunct be true, and so we cannot infer that the other disjunct is true. For, only one needs to be at least true. So if we start with the intuition that there can be truth-value gluts, then disjunctive syllogism is intuitively invalid.]

 

[This next idea is quite potent. So disjunctive syllogism fails for FDE and LP. One might then say that this means FDE and LP are flawed. Their reasoning goes as follows. Suppose we have ¬p q and it is true. This means that at least one of the two conjuncts must be true. It also means, according this argument, that if p were true, that means ¬p is false, and hence, by disjunctive syllogism, q must be true. But as soon as we accept truth-value gluts, then the truth of p will not necessitate that ¬p be simply false. For, p can be true and false, and thus so can ¬p. Then, for our original conjunct, we cannot infer that q is true. It can be false, because ¬p is at least true, even though it is also false. So we begin with the intuition that there can be formulas that are both true and false, we find that this means disjunctive syllogism fails, and thus we can say that disjunctive syllogism is intuitively invalid.]

The failure of the DS has also been thought by some to be a significant minus. First, it is claimed that the DS is intuitively valid. For if ¬p q is true, either ¬p or q is true. But, the argument continues, if p is true, this rules out the truth of ¬p. Hence, it must be q that is true. But once one countenances the possibility of truth-value gluts, this argument is patently wrong. The truth of p does not rule out the truth of ¬p: both may hold. From this perspective, the inference is intuitively invalid.

(154)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

8.6.7

[Disjunctive Syllogism as Possibly Needed for Reasoning]

 

[A more convincing defense of the disjunctive syllogism is that we rely on it for reasoning well. Often times we know either of two things can be true; when one proves false, we know it must be the other one.]

 

[A more convincing objection is that we rely on the disjunctive syllogism to reason well: “Thus, we know | that you are either at home or at work. We ascertain that you are not at home, and infer that you are at work – which you are” (154-155).]

A more persuasive objection is that we frequently use, and seem to need to use, the DS to reason, and we get the right results. Thus, we know | that you are either at home or at work. We ascertain that you are not at home, and infer that you are at work – which you are. If the DS is invalid, this form of reasoning would seem to be incorrect.

(154-155)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

8.6.8

[Disjunctive Syllogism as Normally Correct Despite Being Invalid]

 

[Even though disjunctive syllogism is invalid, it still functions quite well for normal everyday reasoning. It only fails when there is a truth-value glut. Otherwise, our daily life presents us normally with consistencies, so it will still deliver correct inferences usually. We just need to be careful to distinguish those cases with gluts and remember not to use it then.]

 

[Priest then says that even though disjunctive syllogism fails, it can still be legitimate to use it much of the time. It only fails in cases of truth-value gluts. But since the world normally presents us with consistencies, it is fine to still use it in much of our everyday reasoning.]

If the DS fails, then the inference about being at home or work is not deductively valid. It may be perfectly legitimate to use it, none the less. There are a number of ways of spelling this idea out in detail, but at the root of all of them is the observation that when the DS fails, it does so because the premise p involved is a truth-value glut. If the situation about which we are reasoning is consistent – as it is, presumably, in this case – the DS cannot lead us from truth to untruth. So it is legitimate to use it. This fact will underwrite its use in most situations we come across, since consistency is, arguably, the norm.

(155)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

8.6.9

[The Precedent for Inference Discriminations in Mathematics]

 

[There is precedent for this sort of discrimination of situations for appropriate inference uses in mathematics, so we should not feel too uncomfortable with it in cases of logical reasoning. For example, when dealing with finite sets, if one set is a  proper subset of another, we can infer that it is smaller. But for infinite sets, we cannot draw that inference. For example, the set of even numbers is a proper subset of the set of natural numbers, but both sets have the same size.]

 

[Priest’s next point seems to be an analogy to show us that such sorts of discriminations for determining appropriate sorts of inferences is seen already in rigorous sorts of mathematical contexts. His example is that whenever we are working with collections that are finite, it is fine to infer that if a set is a proper subset of another set, then it is smaller than that other set. But we cannot draw this inference when working with infinite sets, because, for example, the set of even numbers is a proper subset of the set of natural numbers, but both sets are of the same size.]

In the same way, if we have some collection, X, one cannot infer from the fact that some other collection, Y, is a proper subset of X that it is smaller.7 But provided that we are working with collections that are finite, this inference is perfectly legitimate: violations can occur only when infinite sets are involved.

(155)

7. For example, the set of all natural numbers is the same size as the set of all even numbers, as can be seen by making the following correlation:

xxxx0xx1xx2xx3xx4xx...

xxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxx0xx2xx4xx6xx8xx...

(155)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

8.6.10

[Putting the Objection Aside]

 

[Since we are wiling to accept inference discrimination in mathematics, we can surely accept it in logic, and so we can set aside the objection that we must reject truth-value gluts (or that we need the material conditional) simply because we need disjunctive syllogism to reason properly.]

 

[From this Priest concludes: ]

Thus, this objection can also be set aside.

(155)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

From:

 

Priest, Graham. 2008 [2001]. An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University.

 

 

 

 

.

24 May 2018

Priest (4.9) An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic, ‘Lewis’ Argument for Explosion,’ summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Logic and Semantics, entry directory]

[Graham Priest, entry directory]

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[The following is summary of Priest’s text, which is already written with maximum efficiency. Bracketed commentary and boldface are my own, unless otherwise noted. I do not have specialized training in this field, so please trust the original text over my summarization. I apologize for my typos and other unfortunate mistakes, because I have not finished proofreading, and I also have not finished learning all the basics of these logics.]

 

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Graham Priest

 

An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is

 

Part I:

Propositional Logic

 

4.

Non-Normal Modal Logics; Strict Conditionals

 

4.9

Lewis’ Argument for Explosion

 

 

 

 

Brief summary:

(4.9.1) Strict conditionals do not require relevance, as we see for example with: ⊨ (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B. So we might object to them on this basis. (4.9.2) C.I. Lewis argues that (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B is intuitively valid, because from A ∧ ¬A it is intuitively valid to infer A and ¬A; from ¬A it is intuitively valid to infer ¬A B, and from A and ¬A B it is intuitively valid, by disjunctive syllogism, to derive B. [Now, if each step has a connection on the basis of its intuitive validity, that means the final conclusion B should have a connection, by extension, to A ∧ ¬A on the basis of the intuitively valid steps leading from the premise to the final conclusion. So despite objections to the contrary, there is a connection between the antecedent and consequent in (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B, according to Lewis. (4.9.3) C.I. Lewis also formulates an argument for the connection between antecedent and conclusion for A ⥽ (B ∨ ¬B), but this argument is a bit less convincing than the one for (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

4.9.1

[Strict Conditionals as Lacking Relevance]

 

4.9.2

[C.I. Lewis’ Argument for the Connection between Antecedent and Consequent in (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B by Means of Disjunctive Syllogism]

 

4.9.3

[C.I. Lewis’ Argument for the Connection between Antecedent and Consequent in A ⥽ (B ∨ ¬B)]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

4.9.1

[Strict Conditionals as Lacking Relevance]

 

[Strict conditionals do not require relevance, as we see for example with: ⊨ (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B. So we might object to them on this basis.]

 

[Recall from section 4.5.2 and section 4.5.3 that the strict conditional AB is defined as □(AB).  In previous sections – see for example section 4.6 and section 4.8 – Priest has considered objections for the strict conditional ⥽ as providing a correct account of the conditional. Priest will now consider a final objection to the this claim about the correctness of the strict conditional. He notes that we have the intuition that this definition is inadequate, because we expect in a conditional that there is some kind of connection between the antecedent and the consequent (for otherwise, what is the sense of the conditionality of their relation?). But strict conditionals do not require any such connection. For example, there is no connection between A ∧ ¬A and B, (even though, as we saw in section 4.6.3: ⊨ (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B.)]

Let us end by considering a final objection to ⥽ as providing a correct account of the conditional. It is natural to object that this account cannot be correct, since a conditional requires some kind of connection between antecedent and consequent; yet a strict conditional requires no such connection. There is no connection in general, for example, between A ∧ ¬A and B.

(76)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

4.9.2

[C.I. Lewis’ Argument for the Connection between Antecedent and Consequent in (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B by Means of Disjunctive Syllogism]

 

[C.I. Lewis argues that (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B is intuitively valid, because from A ∧ ¬A it is intuitively valid to infer A and ¬A; from ¬A it is intuitively valid to infer ¬A B, and from A and ¬A B it is intuitively valid, by disjunctive syllogism, to derive B. (Now, if each step has a connection on the basis of its intuitive validity, that means the final conclusion B should have a connection, by extension, to A ∧ ¬A on the basis of the intuitively valid steps leading from the premise to the final conclusion. So despite objections to the contrary, there is a connection between the antecedent and consequent in (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B, according to Lewis.)]

 

[Despite what we said about relevance above in section 4.9.1, C.I. Lewis does see a connection in the strict conditional even in explosive formulas like ⊨ (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B. (On explosion and the strict conditional, see section 4.8). Only, the connection here is one obtained by a series of inferences, each of which is presumably intuitively valid. (So if each inference is intuitively valid, then they have a logical connection. And so ultimately the explosive inference is intuitively valid). We begin with a premise that is a contradiction: A ∧ ¬A. We then infer the conjects from this conjunction,  ¬A and A. From ¬A we infer the disjunction ¬A B, which with A and by disjunctive syllogism, we infer B. (The idea might be the following, but I am just guessing here. By modus ponens, from A, A B we can infer B. And, AB is equivalent ¬A B. And as we see, by disjunctive syllogism from A, ¬A B we can infer B. Furthermore, maybe another idea here is that when there are premises validly making some other formula true, then you can make the premises be the antecedents and the conclusion the consequent in another formula that will be valid, but I am guessing. So because A B is equivalent to ¬A B, and because the inference from A ∧ ¬A to B is shown to be valid using disjunctive syllogism on premises validly derived from A ∧ ¬A, that means (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B should be intuitively valid. Again, these are guesses. See the quotation below.]

C.I. Lewis, who did accept as an adequate account of the conditional, thought that there was a connection, at least in this case. The connection is shown in the following argument:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxA∧¬A

xxxxxxxxxxxx______

xxxxxA∧¬Axxxxx¬A

xxxxx____xxxxx___

xxxxxxxAxxxxx¬A∨B

xxxxx____________

xxxxxxxxxxxB

Premises are above lines; conclusions are below. The only ultimate premise is A∧¬A; the only ultimate conclusion is B. The inferences that the argument uses are: inferring a conjunct from a conjunction; inferring a disjunction from a disjunct; and the disjunctive syllogism: A, ¬A B B. Of course, all these are valid in the modal logics we have looked at. If contradictions do not entail everything, then one of these must be wrong. We will return to this point in a later chapter.

(76)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

4.9.3

[C.I. Lewis’ Argument for the Connection between Antecedent and Consequent in A ⥽ (B ∨ ¬B)]

 

[C.I. Lewis also formulates an argument for the connection between antecedent and conclusion for A ⥽ (B ∨ ¬B), but this argument is a bit less convincing than the one for (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B.]

 

[Priest then notes that “Lewis also argued that there is a connection in the case of the conditional A ⥽ (B ∨ ¬B) as well,” using the following argument. We begin with A. From this we infer (AB) ∨ (A ∧ ¬B) (I am not exactly sure how, but maybe the reasoning is something like the following. Either B or ¬B holds, on account of excluded middle. Since we have affirmed A, then either (AB) or (A ∧ ¬B) holds.) From this we infer A ∧ (B ∨ ¬B) (I am not sure how again, but it seems like we extract the A as being the common affirmed formula in both, leaving (B ∨ ¬B).) And from this we infer (B ∨ ¬B) by pulling it out as one of the conjuncts. So by beginning with A, we can validly infer (B ∨ ¬B), and thus A ⥽ (B ∨ ¬B).) Priest says this argument is less convincing than the prior one, because “the first step seems evidently to smuggle in the conclusion” (77). (But I am not sure how that works other than the fact that the (B ∨ ¬B) that we want to derive is built into (AB) ∨ (A ∧ ¬B) by a sort of distribution.) Please see the quotation below, as I do not know the precise reasoning for each step.]

Lewis also argued that there is a connection in the case of the conditional A ⥽ (B ∨ ¬B) as well. The connection is provided by the | following argument:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxA

xxxxx_________________

xxxxx(A ∧ B) ∨ (A ∧ ¬B)

xxxxx_________________

xxxxxxxxA ∧ (B ∨ ¬B)

xxxxxxx______________

xxxxxxxxx(B ∨ ¬B)

This argument is less convincing than that of 4.9.2, however, since the first step seems evidently to smuggle in the conclusion.

(76-77)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

From:

 

Priest, Graham. 2008 [2001]. An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University.

 

 

.

 

23 May 2018

Priest (1.10) An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic, ‘Arguments for ⊃,’ summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Logic and Semantics, entry directory]

[Graham Priest, entry directory]

[Priest, Introduction to Non-Classical Logic, entry directory]

 

[The following is summary of Priest’s text, which is already written with maximum efficiency. Bracketed commentary and boldface are my own, unless otherwise noted. I do not have specialized training in this field, so please trust the original text over my summarization. I apologize for my typos and other unfortunate mistakes, because I have not finished proofreading, and I also have not finished learning all the basics of these logics.]

 

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Graham Priest

 

An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is

 

Part I:

Propositional Logic

 

1.

Classical Logic and the Material Conditional

 

1.10

Arguments for ⊃

 

 

 

Brief summary:

(1.10.1) Even though the material conditional, ⊃, is not properly suited to describe the functioning of the English conditional, it had come to be regarded as such on account of there only being standard truth-table semantics until the 1960s, and the only plausible candidate in that semantics for “if” formations would be the material conditional. (1.10.2) However, there are notable arguments that the material conditional can be used to understand the English conditional, and they construe that relation in the following way: “‘If A then B’ is true iff ‘A B’ is true.” (1.10.3)  ‘If A then B’ is true then ¬AB is true. (1.10.4) Suppose A and ¬A B are true. By disjunctive syllogism: A, ¬A B B. This fulfills (*), when we take ¬A B as the C term. [Now, since A, ¬A B B fulfills the definition of the English conditional, and since A, ¬A B B also gives us the (modus ponens) logic of the conditional (given the equivalence of A B and ¬AB), that means the logic of the English conditional is adequately expressed by A B.] (1.10.5) What later proves important in the above argumentation is the use of disjunctive syllogism. (1.10.6) What later proves important in the above argumentation is the use of disjunctive syllogism.

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

1.10.1

[The Prevalence of the Mistaken Identification of the English Conditional with the Material Conditional as Resulting Historically from Limitations in Semantics]

 

1.10.2

[Defining the English Conditional Using the Material Condition as “‘If A then B’ is true iff ‘A B’ is true”]

 

1.10.3

AB from ‘If A then B’]

 

1.10.4

[Disjunctive Syllogism and the English Conditional]

 

1.10.5

[Disjunctive Syllogism and the English Conditional]

 

1.10.6

[Noting Disjunctive Syllogism in the Argumentation]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

1.10.1

[The Prevalence of the Mistaken Identification of the English Conditional with the Material Conditional as Resulting Historically from Limitations in Semantics]

 

[Even though the material conditional, ⊃, is not properly suited to describe the functioning of the English conditional, it had come to be regarded as such on account of there only being standard truth-table semantics until the 1960s, and the only plausible candidate in that semantics for “if” formations would be the material conditional.]

 

[Recall from section 1.8 and section 1.9 that there are a number of ways that the material conditional does not function exactly like the English conditional ‘if’. Priest now explains why many thought it could be adequate despite such problems. He says that this resulted from a historical factor, namely, that standard truth-table semantics were the only semantics we had until the 1960s, and, of the options they provided, “⊃ is the only truth function that looks an even remotely plausible candidate for ‘if’” (15).]

The claim that the English conditional (or even the indicative conditional) is material is therefore hard to sustain. In the light of this it is worth asking why anyone ever thought this. At least in the modern period, a large part of the answer is that, until the 1960s, standard truth-table semantics were the only ones that there were, and ⊃ is the only truth function that looks an even remotely plausible candidate for ‘if’.

(15)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

1.10.2

[Defining the English Conditional Using the Material Condition as “‘If A then B’ is true iff ‘A B’ is true”]

 

[However, there are notable arguments that the material conditional can be used to understand the English conditional, and they construe that relation in the following way: “‘If A then B’ is true iff ‘A B’ is true.”]

 

[I might be mistaken about the following, so please consult the quotation below. The idea might be now that we will examine an argument that in fact the material conditional can be used to understand the English conditional. Here it is something like saying: “‘If A then B’ is true iff ‘A B’ is true.”]

Some arguments have been offered, however. Here is one, to the effect that ‘If A then B’ is true iff ‘A B’ is true.

(15)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

1.10.3

AB from ‘If A then B’]

 

[‘If A then B’ is true then ¬AB is true.]

 

[Priest next will show that if ‘‘If A then B’ is true’ then ¬AB is true. He does this with the following reasoning. First we suppose ‘‘If A then B’ is true, and then we consider two further possibilities. He notes that either ¬A or A is true. Take the first possibility, that ¬A is true. That means ¬AB is true. (I am not entirely sure why, but it might be something like disjunction introduction. See Agler’s Symbolic Logic section 5.3.8. But I am guessing.) Or take the second possibility, that A is true. That means, by modus ponens, B is true. For, we are affirming the antecedent and thus thereby the consequent. So again, we have that ¬AB is true. (I am again guessing it is something like disjunction introduction.) Thus in either case, ¬AB is true.]

First, suppose that ‘If A then B’ is true. Either ¬A is true or A is. In this first case, ¬AB is true. In the second case, B is true by modus ponens. Hence, again, ¬AB is true. Thus, in either case, ¬AB is true.

(15)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

1.10.4

[C and A Entailing B for “If A then B”]

 

[“(*) ‘If A then B’ is true if there is some true statement, C, such that from C and A together we can deduce B” (15).]

 

[I do not follow the next part, so please see the quotation below. First Priest speaks of the “converse argument”. I do not know what that is. Is it that from ¬AB we can derive ‘If A then B’? I do not know. And even if it were, I do not understand Priest’s point that the converse argument appeals to the claim that “(*) ‘If A then B’ is true if there is some true statement, C, such that from C and A together we can deduce B.” In fact, I do not know what it means to “appeal to a claim.” But the example makes sense: “Thus, we agree that the conditional ‘If Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy, someone else did’ is true because we can deduce that someone other than Oswald killed Kennedy from the fact that Kennedy was murdered and Oswald did not do it.” Yet I am not sure if and how to relate this to ¬AB. Perhaps I could follow this if I had access to the Faris text that Priest later cites for this issue (‘Interderivability of “⊃” and “If” ’), but currently I do not have it. I will continue this poor explanation in the next section.)]

The converse argument appeals to the following plausible claim:

(*) ‘If A then B’ is true if there is some true statement, C, such that from C and A together we can deduce B.

Thus, we agree that the conditional ‘If Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy, someone else did’ is true because we can deduce that someone other than Oswald killed Kennedy from the fact that Kennedy was murdered and Oswald did not do it.

(15)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

1.10.5

[Disjunctive Syllogism and the English Conditional]

 

[Suppose A and ¬A B are true. By disjunctive syllogism: A, ¬A B B. This fulfills (*), when we take ¬A B as the C term. (Now, since A, ¬A B B fulfills the definition of the English conditional, and since A, ¬A B B also gives us the (modus ponens) logic of the conditional (given the equivalence of A B and ¬AB), that means the logic of the English conditional is adequately expressed by A B.)]

 

[Priest now says that “suppose that ¬A B is true. Then from this and A we can deduce B, by the disjunctive syllogism: A, ¬A B B. Hence, by (*), ‘If A then B’ is true” (16). Maybe this corresponds to (*) when we take ¬A B to be the C term in (*), but I am guessing. My problem still is I do not know how to put all the ideas together from all the sections here, even though the ideas in each one by themselves make sense. At least let us note the following for now. In section 1.7.1 we said that A B is equivalent to ¬AB. So my following explanation is wrong, but I cannot think of anything else at the moment. Maybe we are to think of how A, ¬A B B works by disjunctive syllogism and A, A BB by modus ponens. Both cases also fulfill (*), which confirms “if A then B”. I am incorrectly guessing that the overall idea is that (*) gives us our definition for the English conditional ‘if A then B’, and the inference which gives us the basic “logic” of the conditional (modus ponens or disjunctive syllogism formulated equivalently) fulfills the definition in (*). I am very sorry that at the moment I cannot put all these sections together coherently, so please read this whole section 1.10 for yourself.]

Now, suppose that ¬A B is true. Then from this and A we can deduce B, by the disjunctive syllogism: A, ¬A B B. Hence, by (*), ‘If A then B’ is true.

(16)

[contents]

 

 

 

1.10.6

[Noting Disjunctive Syllogism in the Argumentation]

 

[What later proves important in the above argumentation is the use of disjunctive syllogism.]

 

[Priest notes finally that:]

We will come back to this argument in a later chapter. For now, just note the fact that it uses the disjunctive syllogism.

(16)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

From:

 

Priest, Graham. 2008 [2001]. An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University.

 

 

.

22 May 2018

Priest (4.8) An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic, ‘The Explosion of Contradictions,’ summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Logic and Semantics, entry directory]

[Graham Priest, entry directory]

[Priest, Introduction to Non-Classical Logic, entry directory]

 

[The following is summary of Priest’s text, which is already written with maximum efficiency. Bracketed commentary and boldface are my own, unless otherwise noted. I do not have specialized training in this field, so please trust the original text over my summarization. I apologize for my typos and other unfortunate mistakes, because I have not finished proofreading, and I also have not finished learning all the basics of these logics.]

 

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Graham Priest

 

An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is

 

Part I:

Propositional Logic

 

4.

Non-Normal Modal Logics; Strict Conditionals

 

4.8

The Explosion of Contradictions

 

 

 

 

Brief summary:

(4.8.1) One of the paradoxes of the strict conditional is: ⊨ (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B. By modus ponens we derive: (A∧¬A)⊨B. In other words, contradictions entail everything (any arbitrary formula whatsoever). But this is counter-intuitive, and there are counter-examples that we will consider. (4.8.2) The first counter-example: Bohr knowingly combined inconsistent assumptions in his model of the atom, but on that account the model functioned well. However, explosion does not hold here, because we cannot on the basis of the contradiction infer everything else, like electronic orbits being rectangles. (4.8.3) The second counter-example: we can have inconsistent laws without their contradiction entailing everything. (4.8.4) The third counter-example: there are perceptual illusions that give us inconsistent impressions without giving us all impressions. For example, the waterfall illusion gives us the impression of something moving and not moving, but it does not thereby also give us every other impression whatsoever. The fourth counter-example: there can be fictional situations where contradictions hold but that thereby not all things hold as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

4.8.1

[The Strict Conditional Involves the Explosion of Contradictions]

 

4.8.2

[Counter-Example 1: The Bohr Model’s Contradictory Assumptions as Non-Explosive]

 

4.8.3

[Counter-Example 2: Inconsistent Legislation]

 

4.8.4

[Counter-Example 3: Perceptual Illusions. Counter-Example 4: Fictional Situations]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

4.8.1

[The Strict Conditional Involves the Explosion of Contradictions]

 

[One of the paradoxes of the strict conditional is: ⊨ (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B. By modus ponens we derive: (A∧¬A)⊨B. In other words, contradictions entail everything (any arbitrary formula whatsoever). But this is counter-intuitive, and there are counter-examples that we will consider.]

 

[Let us first recall some notions regarding the strict conditional. In section 4.5.2 and section 4.5.3 we learned that the strict conditional is defined as “□(AB),” and it is symbolized as AB. In section 4.6.2 and section 4.6.3, we learned that modal systems that can handle conditionality should be systems where modus ponens holds: A, ABB. (I did not know why exactly this is necessary, but I guessed it was for the following reason. Suppose modus ponens does not hold. That would mean by affirming the antecedent, we could not obtain the consequent. But were that the case, then we have lost a basic intuition we have about conditionality, namely, that the consequent will follow necessarily from the antecedent.) We learned in section 4.6.2 that for modus ponens to hold in a modal system, it needs the ρ-constraint (reflexivity). (Recall it from section 3.2.3: “ρ (rho), reflexivity: for all w, wRw” p.36.) But we then learned in section 4.6.3 that no matter how many other constraints we add to ρ, we will always obtain the paradoxes of strict implication, with one being: ‘⊨ (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B’. Now in our current section, Priest says that by modus ponens, from ⊨ (A ∧ ¬A) ⥽ B we can derive (A∧¬A)⊨B. (I do not know exactly how that works, however. I guess the idea is that if we establish the conditional, and if we have modus ponens, then that means simply from the antecedent being affirmed we can infer the consequent as a semantic consequence. The important philosophical point here is that) the strict conditional in any modal system that can handle conditionality leads us to being able to derive any arbitrary formula whatsoever from a contradiction. As Priest puts it: “Contradictions would entail everything.” But this is counter-intuitive. Priest will now give three counter-examples of situations or theories that are inconsistent but also where we should not be able thereby to infer that everything whatsoever holds.]

The toughest objections to a strict conditional, at least as an account of the indicative conditional, come from the fact that ⊨(A∧¬A)⥽B. If this were the case, then, by modus ponens, we would have (A∧¬A)⊨B. Contradictions would entail everything. Not only is this highly counterintuitive, | there would seem to be definite counter-examples to it. There appear to be a number of situations or theories which are inconsistent, yet in which it is manifestly incorrect to infer that everything holds. Here are three very different examples.

(74-75)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

4.8.2

[Counter-Example 1: The Bohr Model’s Contradictory Assumptions as Non-Explosive]

 

[The first counter-example: Bohr knowingly combined inconsistent assumptions in his model of the atom, but on that account the model functioned well. However, explosion does not hold here, because we cannot on the basis of the contradiction infer everything else, like electronic orbits being rectangles.]

 

[I do not know much about the first example, so please see the quotation below. The basic idea is that Bohr knowingly combined two inconsistent assumptions in his model of the atom, namely, he assumes “the standard Maxwell electromagnetic equations” but also “that energy could come only in discrete packets (quanta).” Yet, despite its obvious inconsistency, both assumptions were needed for the model to work and “many of its observable predictions were spectacularly verified.” Priest’s philosophical point here is that on the basis of this contradiction, we cannot infer everything else. “Bohr did not infer, for example, that electronic orbits are rectangles” (75).]

The first is a theory in the history of science: Bohr’s theory of the atom (the ‘solar system’ model). This was internally inconsistent. To determine the behaviour of the atom, Bohr assumed the standard Maxwell electromagnetic equations. But he also assumed that energy could come only in discrete packets (quanta). These two things are inconsistent (as Bohr knew); yet both were integrally required for the account to work. The account was therefore essentially inconsistent. Yet many of its observable predictions were spectacularly verified. It is clear though that not everything was taken to follow from the account. Bohr did not infer, for example, that electronic orbits are rectangles.

(75)

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4.8.3

[Counter-Example 2: Inconsistent Legislation]

 

[The second counter-example: we can have inconsistent laws without their contradiction entailing everything.]

 

[In Priest’s second counter-example, we have two laws that together function together non-problematically in most cases, but in a particular situation they come into contradiction. Priest then says that on the basis of this contradiction, “it would be stupid to infer from this that, for example, the traffic laws are consistent” (75). (I did not quite get how that works. Are we saying that we can consider our two inconsistent laws as presenting a structure like A∧¬A, and “the traffic laws are consistent” is some arbitrary B that we try to derive from it? At any rate, surely at least we might say that from this contradiction we cannot derive any other traffic law we want.)]

Another example: pieces of legislation are often inconsistent. To avoid irrelevant historical details, here is an hypothetical example. Suppose that an (absent-minded) state legislator passes the following traffic laws. At an unmarked junction, the priority regulations are:

(1) Any woman has priority over any man.

(2) Any older person has priority over any younger person.

(We may suppose that clause 2 was meant to resolve the case where two men or two women arrive together, but the legislator forgot to make it subordinate to clause 1.) The legislation will work perfectly happily in three out of four combinations of sex and age. But suppose that Ms X, of age 30, approaches the junction at the same time as Mr Y, of age 40. Ms X has priority (by 1), but has not got priority (by 2 and the meaning of ‘priority’). Hence, the situation is inconsistent. But, again, it would be stupid to infer from this that, for example, the traffic laws are consistent.

(75)

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4.8.4

[Counter-Example 3: Perceptual Illusions. Counter-Example 4: Fictional Situations]

 

[The third counter-example: there are perceptual illusions that give us inconsistent impressions without giving us all impressions. For example, the waterfall illusion gives us the impression of something moving and not moving, but it does not thereby also give us every other impression whatsoever. The fourth counter-example: there can be fictional situations where contradictions hold but that thereby not all things hold as well.]

 

[The third example is that there are perceptual illusions that can give us inconsistent impressions. For example, the waterfall illusion causes us to see something both in motion and not in motion. But thereby we do not perceive everything else, like for example that everything is red all over. The fourth example is that in fictional situations where there are contradictions, that does not entail that everything holds in that fictional situation. (For some reason the fourth one is placed in a  footnote, despite being an excellent and convincing counter-example.)]

Third example: it is possible to have visual illusions where things appear contradictory. For example, in the ‘waterfall effect’, one’s visual system is conditioned by constant motion of a certain kind, say a rotating spiral. If one then looks at a stationary situation, say a white wall, it appears to move in the opposite direction. But, a point in the visual field, | say at the top, does not appear to move, for example, to revolve around to the bottom. Thus, things appear to move without changing place: the perceived situation is inconsistent. But not everything perceivable holds in this situation. For example, it is not the case that the situation is red all over.5

(75-76)

5. A fourth kind of example is provided by certain fictional situations, in which contradictory states of affairs hold. This may well be the case without everything holding in the fictional situation.

(76)

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From:

 

Priest, Graham. 2008 [2001]. An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University.

 

 

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