, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 163-205
Date: 23 Jul 2010

Human Rationality Challenges Universal Logic

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Abstract

Tarski’s conceptual analysis of the notion of logical consequence is one of the pinnacles of the process of defining the metamathematical foundations of mathematics in the tradition of his predecessors Euclid, Frege, Russell and Hilbert, and his contemporaries Carnap, Gödel, Gentzen and Turing. However, he also notes that in defining the concept of consequence “efforts were made to adhere to the common usage of the language of every day life.” This paper addresses the issue of what relationship Tarski’s analysis, and Béziau’s further generalization of it in universal logic, have to reasoning in the everyday lives of ordinary people from the cognitive processes of children through to those of specialists in the empirical and deductive sciences. It surveys a selection of relevant research in a range of disciplines providing theoretical and empirical studies of human reasoning, discusses the value of adopting a universal logic perspective, answers the questions posed in the call for this special issue, and suggests some specific research challenges.

I am grateful to Jean-Yves Béziau for the stimulating call for papers that provoked the writing of this paper, and to the anonymous referees for their perceptive and helpful comments.