What Counts as Evidence for a Logical Theory?


  • Ole Thomassen Hjortland




Anti-exceptionalism about logic is the Quinean view that logical theories have no special epistemological status, in particular, they are not self-evident or justified a priori. Instead, logical theories are continuous with scientific theories, and knowledge about logic is as hard-earned as knowledge of physics, economics, and chemistry. Once we reject apriorism about logic, however, we need an alternative account of how logical theories are justified and revised. A number of authors have recently argued that logical theories are justified by abductive argument (e.g. Gillian Russell, Graham Priest, Timothy Williamson). This paper explores one crucial question about the abductive strategy: what counts as evidence for a logical theory? I develop three accounts of evidential confirmation that an anti-exceptionalist can accept: (1) intuitions about validity, (2) the Quine-Williamson account, and (3) indispensability arguments. I argue, against the received view, that none of the evidential sources support classical logic.


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