Logic. The Laws of Truthby F. Paoli

History and Philosophy of Logic


History / History and Philosophy of Science


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History and Philosophy of Logic

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Logic. The Laws of Truth

F. Paolia a Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, Philosophy, University of

Cagliari, Via Is Mirrionis 1, 09123 Cagliari, Italy.

Published online: 27 Mar 2014.

To cite this article: F. Paoli (2014) Logic. The Laws of Truth, History and Philosophy of Logic, 35:3, 306-308, DOI: 10.1080/01445340.2014.902243

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01445340.2014.902243


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D ow nl oa de d by [E rci ye s U niv ers ity ] a t 0 0:5 9 2 8 D ec em be r 2 01 4 306 Book Reviews chapters, concepts such as standpoints, doubts and criticisms seem to play a more basic and fundamental role. Or why are some argument schemes selected and not others?

Confusion arises, moreover, from the fact that the order in which the various issues are discussed is not always immediately clear and satisfying. To give just one example, in presenting enthymematic arguments, the author starts from the way in which they have been dealt with in artificial intelligence and only afterwards explains their historical background by defining them and outlining how the missing parts should be identified. A better presentational approach could easily avoid such deficiencies.

Finally, a question arises about the main point of this scientific enterprise. If the author’s idea is to discuss how argumentation can be identified, analyzed and evaluated by using the methods of artificial intelligence, how can we reach this three-fold purpose using indeed computational methods? Walton simply seems to draw a representation of humanly reconstructed arguments which are then just placed into a computer that simply diagrams the input. Unfortunately, in this way the book does not convince the reader of the immediate benefits of using artificial intelligence, which undoubtedly exist. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01445340.2014.894711

Nicholas J.J. Smith, Logic. The Laws of Truth. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University

Press, 2012. xvi + 530 pp. £34.95. ISBN 978-0-691-15163-2.

Reviewed by F. Paoli, Department of Pedagogy, Psychology, Philosophy, University of

Cagliari, Via Is Mirrionis 1, 09123 Cagliari, Italy, paoli@unica.it. © 2014 F. Paoli

There is a shortage of natural resources, there is a shortage of breathable air, but there is no shortage of introduction to logic books. Still, this volume displays a masterly combination of clarity, friendliness to the beginning student with technical accuracy, and carefully thoughtout choice of topics that is hard to find on the market. Smith succeeds in introducing his readers to the complexities of symbolic logic in a very gentle manner—there is not a formula or a definition in the book that is not thoroughly explained or illustrated with an abundance of examples. Nearly all the recurring misunderstandings and doubts that students normally express in introductory logic courses are addressed and clarified here. As an advantage, although it is not meant to serve as an introduction to the philosophy of logic, the textbook is rich in philosophical asides and effectively stimulates curiosity for the basic foundational issues concerning the subject. In this regard, the author’s initial contention that ‘logic is mainly concerned with truth, not reasoning’ may well be idiosyncratic and controversial, but does not interfere, in the end, with the development of the volume and the treatment of its subject matter.

The author follows a strict policy to the effect that any discussion potentially heading in the direction of nonclassical logics is tagged as ‘beyond the scope of this book’ (or relegated to a footnote). Given the size of the volume, the author’s aversion to such detours is understandable. Instructors using this text should be ready to supplement this material by at least mentioning, at the appropriate places, the main alternatives to classical first-order logic.

The book is divided into three parts: propositional logic, predicate logic, and foundations and variations. The balance in terms of space and focus between propositional and predicate

D ow nl oa de d by [E rci ye s U niv ers ity ] a t 0 0:5 9 2 8 D ec em be r 2 01 4

Book Reviews 307 logic seems to me adequate. The third part is an introduction to metalogic and to the basic set-theoretical tools needed for presenting metatheoretical issues. Given the usual time constraints of one-semester courses, this part is likely to be sacrificed by most instructors, with the possible exception of Sections 14.1 and 14.2. I believe it could provide a good starting point for an intermediate logic course.