Work in progress by Leon Commandeur

Bergen Logic Seminar: Logical Instrumentalism for Anti-Exceptionalists


Logical Instrumentalism for Anti-Exceptionalists


Anti-exceptionalism about logic is the thesis that logical theories are significantly similar to scientific theories. Within that debate, some authors have proposed various versions of what can be labelled logical instrumentalism, being the idea that logic should essentially be understood as a tool or instrument to achieve particular purposes. This position, however, has been poorly articulated. First, the current proposals can easily be reduced to a trivial claim about the instrumental value of logical systems. Second, while these proposals have been put forth as anti-exceptionalist positions, a comparison with scientific instrumentalism will show that these proposals are significantly different than instrumentalism as it has been understood in (the philosophy of) science. Thus, if one wishes to uphold the claim that logic is significantly similar to science, logical instrumentalism cannot be what previous authors have taken it to be. Therefore, I will propose a different version of logical instrumentalism that is more aligned with, and informed by, scientific instrumentalism. The most significant difference between the instrumentalist view that I present and the one that has so far been is on the point of non-representationalism about logic, being the idea that logic does not represent any extra-systemic phenomenon. While current instrumentalist proposals endorse non-representationalism, I will argue that if we are to be anti-exceptionalists about logic, then we ought to reject it.