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General-Elimination Harmony and the Meaning of the Logical Constants

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Abstract

Inferentialism claims that expressions are meaningful by virtue of rules governing their use. In particular, logical expressions are autonomous if given meaning by their introduction-rules, rules specifying the grounds for assertion of propositions containing them. If the elimination-rules do no more, and no less, than is justified by the introduction-rules, the rules satisfy what Prawitz, following Lorenzen, called an inversion principle. This connection between rules leads to a general form of elimination-rule, and when the rules have this form, they may be said to exhibit “general-elimination” harmony. Ge-harmony ensures that the meaning of a logical expression is clearly visible in its I-rule, and that the I- and E-rules are coherent, in encapsulating the same meaning. However, it does not ensure that the resulting logical system is normalizable, nor that it satisfies the conservative extension property, nor that it is consistent. Thus harmony should not be identified with any of these notions.

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Correspondence to Stephen Read.

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This work is supported by Research Grant AH/F018398/1 (Foundations of Logical Consequence) from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK.

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Read, S. General-Elimination Harmony and the Meaning of the Logical Constants. J Philos Logic 39, 557–576 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10992-010-9133-7

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