Logic: Normative or descriptive? The ethics of belief or a branch of psychology?

Philosophy of Science 52 (2):221-238 (1985)
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By a logical theory I mean a formal system together with its semantics, meta-theory, and rules for translating ordinary language into its notation. Logical theories can be used descriptively (for example, to represent particular arguments or to depict the logical form of certain sentences). Here the logician uses the usual methods of empirical science to assess the correctness of his descriptions. However, the most important applications of logical theories are normative, and here, I argue, the epistemology is that of wide reflective equilibrium. The result is that logic not only assesses our inferential practice but also changes it. I tie my discussion to Thagard's views concerning the relationship between psychology and logic, arguing against him that psychology has and should have only a peripheral role in normative (and most descriptive) applications of logic



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Michael Resnik
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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References found in this work

Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):278-279.
Can human irrationality be experimentally demonstrated?L. Jonathan Cohen - 1981 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (3):317-370.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Philosophy 31 (118):268-269.
The Development of Logic.William Kneale & Martha Kneale - 1962 - Studia Logica 15:308-310.

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