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#27 - Catarina Dutilh Novaes: Logic as Social Practice

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The practice of logic is not an eternal given. It has a history. The logical tradition, as we know it, began as debating practices in ancient Greece. Catarina Dutilh Novaes examines the implications of this historical insight and from it develops a dialogical account of logic: deductive logic is an inherently conversational and social practice, even when engaged privately. This has huge implications for any theory of what logic is and what it should be.

Dutilh Novaes also investigates the cognitive impact of formal logic. Formalisms, she argues, are best seen as cognitive tools, which aid both in calculation and in counterbalancing belief bias. But, as with logic, she doesn't view cognition as primarily an internal affair. Rather, she presents an extended view of cognition, in which cognitive processes are inseparably integrated with the external world.

Featured Blog Post

Sorites Paradox and Its Solutions (Vagueness)

0 grains of sand obviously do not make a heap. And for any number of grains of sand, adding just one more will never turn a non-heap into a heap. These two statements seem undeniably true. But they allow us to form a chain of reasoning that yields an absurd result. Since 0 grains do not make a heap, and adding 1 grain can never make the difference, then 1 grain is also not a heap. Since 1 grain does not make a heap and adding 1 can never make the difference, then 2 grains are also not a heap. And so on. We can apply this reasoning 100,000 times to prove that 100,000 grains of sand do not make a heap. But this is obviously false.

This is the sorites paradox. While at first glance it reads like mere wordplay, it is arguably the toughest paradox facing modern logic and metaphysics. In this post, I offer quick summaries of the most common proposed solutions and conclude that none of them quite solves the problem.

audiodrama album

Featured Work

Talia (audiodrama album)

"It all started when I decided to write a self-aware character." A narrative and musical  journey into the mind of a writer who fears that a fictional character of his own creation may be plotting to permanently hijack his very identity and agency. The humorous, philosophical, tragic, and absurd story is accompanied by a rich and varied original score, incorporating elements of electronica, prog rock, jazz, hip-hop, chamber, choral, avant-garde, and metal. 96 min. album.