Thinking about Logic: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Logic

Thinking about Logic: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Logic

Thinking about Logic: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Logic

Thinking about Logic: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Logic


In this book, Stephen Read sets out to rescue logic from its undeserved reputation as an inflexible, dogmatic discipline by demonstrating that its technicalities and processes are founded on assumptions which are themselves amenable to philosophical investigation. He examines the fundamental principles of consequence, logical truth and correct inference within the context of logic, and shows that the principles by which we delineate consequences are themselves not guaranteed free from error. Central to the notion of truth is the beguiling issue of paradox. Its philosophical value, Read shows, lies in exposing the invalid assumption on which the paradox is built. Thinking About Logic also discusses logical puzzles which introduce questions relating to language, the world, and their relationship.


This book is an introduction to the philosophy of logic. We often see an area of philosophy marked out as the philosophy of logic and language; and there are indeed close connections between logical themes and themes in the analysis of language. But they are also quite distinct. In the philosophy of language the focus is on meaning and reference, on what are known as the semantic connections between language and the world.

In contrast, the central topic of the philosophy of logic is inference, that is, logical consequence, or what follows correctly from what. What conclusions may legitimately be inferred from what sets of premisses? One answer to this question makes play with the notion of truth-preservation: valid arguments are those in which truth is preserved, where the truth of the premisses guarantees the truth of the conclusion. Since truth itself is arguably the third member of a closely knit trio comprising meaning, reference, and truth, the connection with philosophy of language is immediately secured.

Yet truth looks two ways. Meaning and reference are essentially linguistic notions, a function of the particular way in which language, or the language-user, chooses to express some particular idea. Asking what was meant, who or what was referred to, looks for clarification in language. Truth, in contrast, breaks free from language, and directs our attention to the world. Truth requires that what was said conform to reality, that, in the famous phrase, things be as they are said to be.

Perhaps to make this separation between how things are, the issues of truth and inference on the one hand, and how they are said to be, language, meaning, and reference on the other--is artificial. Indeed, it will be the theme of the final chapter of this book that the conception of the world as a distinct reality independent of, and perhaps forever beyond, our knowledge and . . .

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