Abstract: Over the last century or so, the discipline of logic has grown and transformed into a powerful set of tools and techniques that find their use in fields as far apart as philosophy, mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering and linguistics. Is there anything distinctive about logic and its results, or is it just another kind of abstract mathematics, or another kind of empirical scientific theory? In this talk I’ll explain why the distinctive subject matter of logical theory means that the tools of logic (proofs and models) can play a special role in our thought and in our talk. This explanation will turn crucially on our practices of assertion and denial, and how it can constrain those practices by using rules and definitions.
The talk is the 21st Annual Alice Ambrose Lazerowitz/Thomas Tymocko Logic Lecture at Smith College.