Harmony and Autonomy in Classical Logic

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Michael Dummett and Dag Prawitz have argued that a constructivist theory of meaning depends on explicating the meaning of logical constants in terms of the theory of valid inference, imposing a constraint of harmony on acceptable connectives. They argue further that classical logic, in particular, classical negation, breaks these constraints, so that classical negation, if a cogent notion at all, has a meaning going beyond what can be exhibited in its inferential use.

I argue that Dummett gives a mistaken elaboration of the notion of harmony, an idea stemming from a remark of Gerhard Gentzen's. The introduction-rules are autonomous if they are taken fully to specify the meaning of the logical constants, and the rules are harmonious if the elimination-rule draws its conclusion from just the grounds stated in the introduction-rule. The key to harmony in classical logic then lies in strengthening the theory of the conditional so that the positive logic contains the full classical theory of the conditional. This is achieved by allowing parametric formulae in the natural deduction proofs, a form of multiple-conclusion logic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-154
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Philosophical Logic
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2000


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