Logical consequence: A defense of Tarski
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In his classic 1936 essay “On the Concept of Logical Consequence”, Alfred Tarski used the notion of satisfaction to give a semantic characterization of the logical properties. Tarski is generally credited with introducing the model-theoretic characterization of the logical properties familiar to us today. However, in his book, The Concept of Logical Consequence, Etchemendy argues that Tarski's account is inadequate for quite a number of reasons, and is actually incompatible with the standard model-theoretic account. Many of his criticisms are meant to apply to the model-theoretic account as well.
Tarski's account of logical consequence diverges from the standard model-theoretic account at points where the latter account gets it right.
Tarski's account cannot be brought into line with the model-theoretic account, because the two are fundamentally incompatible.
There are simple counterexamples (enumerated by Etchemendy) which show that Tarski's account is wrong.
Tarski committed a modal fallacy when arguing that his account captures our pre-theoretical concept of logical consequence, and so obscured an essential weakness of the account.
Tarski's account depends on there being a distinction between the “logical terms” and the “non-logical terms” of a language, but (according to Etchemendy) there are very simple (even first-order) languages for which no such distinction can be made. Etchemendy's critique raises historical and philosophical questions about important foundational work. However, Etchemendy is mistaken about each of these central criticisms. In the course of justifying that claim, I give a sustained explication and defense of Tarski's account. Moreover, since I will argue that Tarski's account and the model-theoretic account really do come to the same thing, my subsequent defense of Tarski's account against Etchemendy's other attacks doubles as a defense against criticisms that would apply equally to the familiar model-theoretic account of the logical properties.
KeywordsLogical Consequence Logical Property Logical Term Philosophical Question Critical Charge
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