Catarina Dutilh Novaes: Logic as Social Practice | Who Shaves the Barber? #27

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Catarina Dutilh Novaes

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.

Audio

Video

Next week: David Rosenthal: Mental Qualities

Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.
Click here for the full list of episodes!

Topics discussed

0:20 – Catarina Dutilh Novaes: chronology of work
9:30 – Dialogical account of logic (historical, cognitive, and philosophical approaches)
15:30 – Why did we forget the dialogical origins of logic? (philosophy in the mind v. in debates)
22:54 – Is logic less important than we thought?
26:10 – Normative status of deductive logic
40:49 – Genetic fallacy and genealogy
48:52 – Conversational nature of philosophy (inner dialogue and the inner skeptic)
57:55 – Incorporating empirical findings
1:00:09 – Extended cognition
1:07:00 – Debiasing – confirmation bias and making new discoveries
1:12:38 – Social epistemology of argumentation

Sources

Catarina Dutilh Novaes (homepage)
The Roots of Deduction (C.…

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Steve Patterson: Certainty and Logic | Who Shaves the Barber? #26

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Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson’s book Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge begins with the bold claim: “Truth is discoverable. I’m certain of it.” The rest of the book is an attempt to prove that there are certain truths for which there is not a sliver of doubt.

I am, to say the least, unconvinced. Universal fallibilism – the claim that all knowledge leaves room for doubt – is, ironically enough, a view I’m particularly confident of (though, obviously, not certain of). Indeed, I did a two-part podcast on this topic (Against Certainty: Knowledge and Experience and Against Certainty: Logic). In this interview, I challenge Steve’s claims to certainty with my skeptical doubts. The conversation takes us through the Münhhausen Trilemma, the nature of justification, subjective experience, and, of course, the ever-popular liar paradox.

Audio

Video

Next week: Catarina Dutilh Novaes: Logic as Social Practice

Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.
Click here for the full list of episodes!

Topics discussed

0:41 – The goal of certainty
2:59 – Agrippan trilemma
6:37 – Certainty v. necessity (epistemology v. metaphysics)
19:08 – Justification (grounds for belief)
25:42 – Certainty about experience v. certainty about logical truths
29:03 – Meditating on experience
31:40 – Presuppositions of skepticism?
41:50 – Negation
43:32 – “Logic and existence are inseparable”
47:28 – Philosophy of language
49:50 – Liar paradox, negation, and the possibility of contradiction

Sources

Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge by Steve Patterson
How to Resolve the Liar’s Paradox” by Steve Patterson (video)…

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Normativity of Logic and the Preface Paradox

normativity logic

I recently came across a surprising claim: that logic is normative. That is, it is in some sense wrong to deny logic. The claim isn’t surprising because it’s controversial; instead, it’s so obvious that it’s initially jarring to see it spelled out explicitly. What is controversial is the claim that followed: that logic’s normativity isn’t universal. In other words, that it is sometimes rational to accept a deductive argument as valid, accept all its premises as true, and yet still deny its conclusion. Let’s see why this might be and whether it holds up.

The Preface

A well-known paradox, the Preface, goes as follows: I assert each thing I state in this post. After all, if there were something here I did not wish to assert, I would not state it. However, I also assert that I’m wrong about at least one thing I say here. Write anything long enough, and chances are, no matter how thoroughly you check yourself, you’ll get at least one thing wrong. (This post isn’t very long, but as an amateur writing on a complex topic, the post needn’t be very long for me to feel confident that there’s at least one mistake in it.)

So far so good. Here’s the trouble. Let’s label my assertions in this post p0, p1, p2, … pn. I’m apparently asserting that each of those is true, but also denying that their conjunction – (p0 & p1 & p2 & … & pn) – is true.…

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