Logical dynamics meets logical pluralism?

Johan van Benthem


Where is logic heading today? There is a general feeling that the discipline is broadening its scope and agenda beyond classical foundational issues, and maybe even a concern that, like Stephen Leacock’s famous horseman, it is ‘riding off madly in all directions’. So, what is the resultant vector? There seem to be two broad answers in circulation today. One is logical pluralism, locating the new scope of logic in charting a wide variety of reasoning styles, often marked by non-classical structural rules of inference. This is the new program that I subscribed to in my work on sub-structural logics around 1990, and it is a powerful movement today. But gradually, I have changed my mind about the crux of what logic should become. I would now say that the main issue is not variety of reasoning styles and notions of consequence, but the variety of informational tasks performed by intelligent interacting agents, of which inference is only one among many, involving observation, memory, questions and answers, dialogue, or general communication. And logical systems should deal with a wide variety of these, making information-carrying events first-class citizens in their set-up. The purpose of this brief paper is to contrast and compare the two approaches, drawing freely on some insights from earlier published papers. In particular, I will argue that logical dynamics sets itself the more ambitious diagnostic goal of explaining why substructural phenomena occur, by ‘deconstructing’ them into classical logic plus an explicit account of the relevant informational events.

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