From Excluded Middle to Homogenization in Plumwood’s Feminist Critique of Logic


  • Thomas Macaulay Ferguson Czech Academy of Sciences



A key facet of Valerie Plumwood’s feminist critique of logic is her analysis of classical negation. On Plumwood’s reading, the exclusionary features of classical negation generate hierarchical dualisms, i.e., dichotomies in which dominant groups’ primacy is reinforced while underprivileged groups are oppressed. For example, Plumwood identifies the system collapse following from ex contradictione quodlibet—that a theory including both φ and ∼φ trivializes—as a primary source of many of these features. Although Plumwood considers the principle of excluded middle to be compatible with her goals, that she identifies relevant logics as systems lacking a hierarchical negation—whose first-degree fragments are both paraconsistent and paracomplete—suggests that excluded middle plays some role in hierarchical dualisms as well. In these notes, I examine the role of excluded middle in generating oppressive homogenization and try to clarify the relationship between Plumwood’s critique and this principle from several contemporary perspectives. Finally, I examine the matter of whether Plumwood’s critique requires relevance or whether a non-relevant logic could satisfy her criteria and serve as a liberatory logic of difference.


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Author Biography

Thomas Macaulay Ferguson, Czech Academy of Sciences

Postdoctoral Researcher in Mathematical Logic and Artificial Intelligence

University of Amsterdam and University of St. Andrews