Talk by Gil Sagi: Logic and Natural Language

Logic and Natural Language

Most of the contemporary research in logic is carried out with respect to formal, mathematical, languages. Logic, however, is said to be concerned with correct reasoning, and it is natural language that we usually reason in. Can logic keep its promise in the realm where its motivation originates? On the one hand, we have formal semanticists who study the logic of natural language, assuming it exists. On the other hand, some philosophers have denied that there is a logical consequence relation in natural language. Do they mean the same thing by ``logic’’?

The aim of this talk is twofold. First, I shall try to make sense of the question of logic in natural language in an interesting way. To this end I will refer to the works of Frege, Tarski, Carnap, Quine, Davidson, Montague, Glanzberg, among others. Second, I will propose an answer. An attempted positive response will resolve the normative aspects of logic and the descriptive aspects of natural language using a model from Frege on the normativity of logic. However, my ultimate answer to the question as explicated will be negative. Finally, I will gesture at a positive outlook based on Carnapian voluntarism.

Published Aug. 18, 2017 12:12 PM - Last modified Oct. 2, 2017 9:38 AM