Frege and Carnap on the normativity of logic

Synthese 194 (1):143-162 (2017)
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In this paper I examine the question of logic’s normative status in the light of Carnap’s Principle of Tolerance. I begin by contrasting Carnap’s conception of the normativity of logic with that of his teacher, Frege. I identify two core features of Frege’s position: first, the normative force of the logical laws is grounded in their descriptive adequacy; second, norms implied by logic are constitutive for thinking as such. While Carnap breaks with Frege’s absolutism about logic and hence with the notion that any system of logic should have a privileged claim to correctness, I argue that there is a sense in which Carnap’s framework-relative conception of logical norms has a constitutive role to play: though they are not constitutive for the conceptual activity for thinking, they do nevertheless set the ground rules that make certain forms of scientific inquiry possible in the first place. I conclude that Carnap’s principle of tolerance is tamer than one might have thought and that, despite remaining differences, Frege’s and Carnap’s conceptions of logic have more in common than one might have thought.



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Florian Steinberger
Birkbeck, University of London

Citations of this work

Logic isn’t normative.Gillian Russell - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (3-4):371-388.
Logical pluralism and normativity.Stewart Shapiro & Teresa Kouri Kissel - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (3-4):389-410.
Logic as a methodological discipline.Gil Sagi - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):9725-9749.
Why logical pluralism?Colin R. Caret - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 20):4947-4968.

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References found in this work

Kritik der reinen Vernunft.Immanuel Kant - 2010 - Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG.
Logical foundations of probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago]: Chicago University of Chicago Press.
Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language.John Rogers Searle - 1969 - Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Change in View: Principles of Reasoning.Gilbert Harman - 1986 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.

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