Keith Douglas' Web Page

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Reviews, theses, articles, presentations A collection of papers from my work, categorized and annotated.
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What is the philosophy of computing? A brief introduction to my primary professional interest.
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Book Influences - Logic: History and Philosophy of

Purchase / Enjoy Cover
A Companion to Philosophical Logic Jacquette (ed.) The Blackwell Companions are like a pretty good absolutely huge philosophy encyclopedia you can fortunately buy in parts. This volume, on the strange field of "philosophical logic", has articles on 46 different topics, from "Ancient Greek Philosophical Logic" to "Sampling Labeled Deductive Systems" - so everything from the history of the subject to modern computational applications (which is one key use of "philosophical logic" today) is covered, usually in adequate detail and with admirable clarity. The one disappointment in the former respect is the "Epistemic Logic" entry - fortunately other articles sort of make up for it. All and all, a good volume.
Development of Logic Kneale and Kneale A brick-sized book on the history of logic. I suspect that any more detail (such as more on Leibniz or Peirce, not to mention the Indian logicians) would require the work to fission.
Deviant Logic, Fuzzy Logic Haack One of Susan Haack's clearheaded monographs on the philosophy of logic. This one tackles various "unusual" (in some cases, nonclassical) logics. This book complements Priest's somewhat, as this book is much higher on motivation and less on formalism than his. Though, it must be said, the specific logics discussed are not all the same. Nevertheless, Haack's approach is useful.
Doubt Truth To Be A Liar Priest This is one of the more philosophical of Priest's works. Here he actually mounts a sustained defense of dialetheism, the (crazy?) idea that some contradictions are true and fends off critics. In particular, he goes to great lengths to emphasize that his views are not of a trivialist (who believes everything/nothing is true). His argument is primarily a refutation of the bad arguments against the position. These are quite well done though many are very abbreviated and require reading implementation details within the paraconsistent logic required. This is found elsewhere, so the book is really only one side of a coin - but as I have written in other comments here, his other books are like that too, with the side reversed, so everything does sort of work out. However, two of the arguments against the position, and ultimately I think the most powerful ones, are not adequately addressed. The first of these, the weaker of the two, concerns the "infection" argument (my term) found in Bunge and elsewhere. Namely, that if one is wrong about one's logic in the way proposed, it at first glance appears that one would have to rewrite all of math and all of the fields that use math. Priest claims that the consistent parts of matters remain the same, but I am not entirely convinced. Nevertheless, this affects point two: viz., how does dialetheism affect proofs (not formalized, logician style proofs) by reductio? Take Russell's didactic introduction to the paradox which bears his name. This is the "barber" paradox. Priest is on record as saying he believes that the "Russell set" (at least in Frege's theory) is and is not a member of itself. This is fine (modestly) if one is a fictionalist about set theory - rather than drawing the usual conclusion there is no such set and hence something is wrong. But in the case of the barber paradox, does Priest think that there is some town (in Brazil or Australia, presumably) where there is in fact a barber which shaves all and only those who do not shave themselves? This is much more "concrete". I worry, then, that adopting a paraconsistent logic and becoming a dialetheist would make it impossible to escape this very worrysome conclusion. I think the escape, which unfortunately vitiates Priest's views, is to not "ontologize" logic. But that's a story for elsewhere. In spite of these faults and quibbles, the book really is quite good - well written, thought provoking and a great example of painstaking investigation in a terribly complicated area of inquiry.
Human Reasoning and Cognitive Science Stenning and Van Lambalgen

Logic students have been taught since Frege that logic and psychology have next to nothing to do with each other. Taking this to heart, psychologists have investigated reasoning but often with poor or simplistic understanding of logic. This monumental book attempts to correct both of these mistakes. In particular, the authors defend the idea that reasoning to an interpretation is just as important or more so than reasoning from one. This returns logic to something (claimed to be) more like Kant in the Jäsche Logik or Husserl. (Maybe ...)

The analysis, involving an essential non-monotonicity, is applied then to famous psychological experiments in logic and to understanding autism. A tour-de-force contentwise, but it is a shame MIT Press let through so many typos.

Nature and Application of Inductive Logic Carnap Influential and important, though I think ultimately misguided. See my remarks in the papers section, in particular my paper "What is Probability?".
Philosophy of Logic Quine A slim work, adapted from some lectures by one of the more famous of philosophical logicians. Quine's "antimetaphysical" stance ties him in knots, though the usual report of his view of "second order logic is set theory" is an oversimplification. The greatest weakness of the lucid and stimulating book is failure to engage the historical change(s) in logic: he makes it/them sound impossible.
Philosophy of Logic: An Anthology Jacquette (ed.) A collection of 27 classic papers on the obvious subject, plus introductions to the several sections and to the book as a whole by the editor. Most are mid 20th century works; the latter part of the century is underrepresented. (Not surprisingly, there's no 21st century work, as the volume dates from 2002!) Although there's one paper on the Anderson-Belnap Entailment approach, non-classical propositional logics, etc. are underexplored; however in their place (so to speak) are more papers about meaning and truth which are of more traditional philosophical topics. A tradeoff; personally I would simply prefer a larger volume with both concerns addressed. For example, the material on Entailment also only covers the "positive" fragment, and to leave matters there is very odd.
Philosophy of Logics Haack What is a logic? What is it for? Haack tackles some philosophical questions about logic itself. Philosophy is, as Bunge jokes, idempotent (the philosophy of philosophy is philosophy). Here's why.
Saving Truth From Paradox Field This book is doubly challenging. First, the subject matter is extremely technical and specialized. Second, Field (in places) is not the greatest writer. On the other hand, his style of constantly "looking forwards and backwards" suggests a hypertext version of this book could be very useful. The content itself is fascinating: a compromise between classical logic and the seemingly outlandish views of Graham Priest.
The Concept of Logical Consequence Etchemendy This is a curious little book, which demonstrates that the usual understanding of (semantic) logical consequence is wrongheaded. Curiously enough (or perhaps not, given how much of it is regarded) there's no reference to vol. 1-2 of Bunge's Treatise which also develops a "nonTarskian" semantics. It would be an interesting project to see how compatible these two are. I've suggested the project to my dear friend and one-time colleague Audrey Yap, who was the one to tell me about Etchemendy's book to me in the first place.
The Law of Non-Contradiction Priest, Beall, Armour-Garb (eds.) 23 papers, plus an introduction, survey the status of the law(s?) of non-contradiction. The dialetheists think there are true contradictions; others dispute this seemingly outlandish view. There are also discussions of what a contradiction actually involves (as there are subtle differences in views in the literature), explorations of new notions of negation, etc. It is the latter which seems to be an area of interest - just as it is with intuitionistic logics. In balance, however, I would have to say the arguments in favour of the tradition (notably those pieces of Shapiro and Weir) are successful. However, the arguments of the opposing camps are sophisticated and yet slippery and hard to refute, and this volume contributes well to the debate on this very challenging topic.


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