Reasoning in Begriffsschrift Danielle Macbeth Freges Begriffsschrift, or
Reasoning in Begriffsschrift Danielle Macbeth Freges Begriffsschrift, or concept-script, is a two-dimensional notation designed to express content as it matters to inference. To show that some content A is true on condition that B one writes A B. If the truth A depends on two conditions, B and C, one writes A B C, which can also be read as [A-on-condition-that-B]-on-condition-that-C. 1 A small vertical attached to the horizontal is Freges sign for negation. If then A is true. ___
A is false This combination of signs A B functions, then, as disjunction: A-or-B. A small vertical stroke attached to the left end of the topmost horizontal (content) stroke is the judgment stroke. It marks ones acknowledgement of the truth of the formula. 2 Frege claims that reasoning from fruitful definitions in his concept-script can extend our knowledge. 3 The more fruitful type of definition is a matter of drawing boundary lines that were not previously given at all. What we shall be able to infer from it, cannot be inspected in advance; here, we are not simply taking out of the box again what we have just put into it. The conclusions we draw from it extend our knowledge, and ought therefore, on KANTs view, to be regarded as synthetic; and yet they can be proved by purely logical means, and are thus analytic.
(Grundlagen 88) I have, without borrowing any axiom from intuition, given a proof of a proposition [theorem 133] which might at first sight be taken for synthetic . . . From this proof it can be seen that propositions [that] extend our knowledge can have analytic judgments for their content. (Grundlagen 91) 4 The problem: To explain how a strictly deductive proof from definitions can constitute a real extension of our knowledge. The strategy: 1. Distinguish mathematical reasoning from natural language reasoning. 2. Think of mathematical reasoning (following Kant and Peirce) as a paper and pencil activity that is essentially constructive and diagrammatic. 3. Read Freges proof of theorem 133 as continuous with the tradition of mathematical reasoning (e.g., Euclidean diagrammatic reasoning and constructive algebraic problem solving) that came before it rather than as a moment in the tradition of mathematical logic (e.g., model theory) that largely came after it. 5
The theorem to be proved/constructed: (133) If the procedure f is single-valued and if m and y follow x in the f-sequence, then y belongs to the f-sequence beginning with m or precedes m in the f-sequence. 6 This theorem includes three different defined signs, that of being a singlevalued function, that of following in a sequence, and that of belonging to a sequence. The definitions of these signs involve, in addition to the signs already introduced, the concavity, which serves in the construction of higher-level concept words. The second-level relation of subordination, for example, which takes two first-level concepts as arguments to yield a truth-value as value, is designated thus: (a) a
(a). 7 The definitions that provide the starting points of the construction: (69) F is hereditary in the f-sequence (76) y follows x in the f-sequence (99) z belongs to the f-sequence beginning with x (115) f is single-valued 8 Definitions exhibit the inferentially articulated contents of concepts. They provide, in the definiens (on the left), a picture or map of the sense of a concept word, and in the
definiendum (on the right), a simple sign, newly introduced, that is stipulated to have the same sense and meaning as the complex of signs in the definiens. And the contents of concepts can be exhibited this way in Begriffsschrift in virtue of a very distinctive feature of this notation: independent of an analysis, a particular way of regarding it, a Begriffsschrift judgment only expresses a sense, a Fregean Thought. It follows directly that independent of their occurrence in a judgment, the primitive signs of Begriffsschrift do not designate but only express a sense. The definiens is a concept word that, on the analysis that is stipulated in the definition, exhibits the sense of the concept word, and designates a concept. The definiendum is a concept word for that same concept, but unlike the definiens it is a simple sign; it cannot in the context of a judgment be variously analyzed. 9 What we have to work with: Freges four definitions Freges axioms and the theorems derived already in Part II of Begriffsschrift
But we know that from each of the judgments expressed in a formula in 13-22 [that is, in Part II] we could make a particular mode of inference. (Begriffsschrift 6) And this is how we will proceed. We will treat the axioms and theorems of Part II not as judgments but as inference licenses. Because inference (as we understand it here) is a constructive activity, these rules function more or less like Euclidean postulates governing possible constructions. In order to see how this works in practice, consider 10 Freges one rule of inference: Modus Ponens A B B A A B B A Standard reading: If it is true that A on condition that B and it is true that B then we can conclude that A.
But we can also read it differently, as an inference from the judgment that B to the judgment that A as governed by the rule of construction expressed in the first premise. We will call the judgment from which the inference/construction proceeds the ground and the rule according to which the inference/construction proceeds the bridge. Read as a rule of construction, the bridge says that if you have something that has the form of the ground, then you can construct something that has the form of the conclusion. 11 Where a formula, say, axiom 1, plays the role of bridge taking one from a ground, say, axiom 2, to a conclusion, theorem 3, we display the inferential step thus: 3 4 2 1 2
If we then construct theorem 4 on the basis of theorem 3 as ground, with 2 as bridge, we put Using this convention the whole pattern of the derivation of theorem 133 from Freges four definitions looks like this. 12 Yellow: Freges four definitions, which provide the starting-points of the chains of inference. Blue: The various axioms and theorems from Part II of the 1879 logic. Green: Theorem 52 provides the bridge from a definition to a conditional with the definiens as the condition. Purple: Theorems 57 and 68 provide bridges from definitions to conditionals with the defined sign as the condition. Red: A sequence of inferences transforming a definition in various ways.
Orange: An inference that joins two judgments that are derived ultimately from two different definitions. 13 The basic The starting point is two definitions definition-of- strategy of the proof: definition-of- where what is on the left, the definiens, is a complex expression formed from primitive signs and previously defined signs, and what is on the right, the definiendum, is a simple sign, newly introduced, that is stipulated to have the same sense and meaning as the complex sign on the left. The first step is to transform both identities into conditionals, usually, definition-of- definition-of- The second step is to transform, in a series of linear inferences, the two conditionals in various ways until they share content, roughly,
[definition-of-]* [definition-of-]* where [definition-of-]* is identical to [definition-of-]*. The third step is to use some form of hypothetical syllogism to join the defined signs and in a single judgment as mediated by the common content that was achieved in the second step. Repeat the process until all the defined signs occurring in theorem 133 are appropriately joined. 14 Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: A simple example. (1) (2) a Read as a ground this axiom says that if it is true that a and that b b then it is true that a. a If we read this axiom instead as a bridge, or rule of inference, then it licenses an inference from the judgment that a, for some content a, as
ground, to the conclusion that a-on-condition-that-b, for any content b you like. a Read as a ground this formula says that if it is true that a-on-conditionc that-b-and-c, and it is true that b-on-condition-that-c, then it is true that b a-on-condition-that-c. c a But if we read it instead as a rule governing an inference, it licenses an b inference from [a-on-condition-that-b]-on-condition-that-c as ground to c the conclusion that [a-on-condition-that-c]-on the condition-that-[b-oncondition-that-c]. That is, the rule licenses moving a condition on a conditional onto both the condition and the conditioned judgment. Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: A simple example. (3) Beginning with axiom 2 as ground, we add an extra condition to it as licensed by axiom one. a b 15 (3)
(4) (1) (5) a c b c a b c a b a c b c a bb c a b a b
a cb ab c a b Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: A simple example. (2) a c b c a b c (1) a b a Theorem 4 follows from theorem 3 as ground by reorganizing the
content as licensed by the rule in axiom 2. If we look at it the right way, we can see that theorem 3 is a conditional on one condition. So, by axiom 2 as rule, we can move the lowest condition so that it is attached both to the condition and to the conditioned judgment in our formula suitably construed to yield theorem 4. Theorem 4 is the bridge from axiom 1,more exactly, from a special case of axiom 1, to theorem 5 following the rule of construction given in theorem 4. 15 (5) a c b c a b Read as a standard rule of inference, theorem 5 licenses the addition of a condition, any condition you like, to both the condition and the conditioned judgment, in a given conditional.
a c b That is, it licenses the move from a to that conditional with a condition added to both condition and the conditioned conditional judgment. c a b c b c But theorem 5 can also be used in an inference that directly joins two chains together in what I call a joining inference as follows. If you have a conditional a-on-condition-that-b and also another conditional whose conditioned judgment is the same as the condition in the first conditional, that is, something of the form bon-condition-that-c then you can infer a-on-condition-that-c. Theorem 5 is used fourteen times over the course of Parts II and III, more than any other axiom or theorem in the 1879 logic.
16 Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: the proof of theorem 133 The strategy of the proof is to transform definitions into a form suitable for joining inferences. Most of the joins are some form of hypothetical syllogism, governed by rules such as that given in theorem 5. We will consider the chain of inferences from definition 76 up through the join that yields theorem 81. Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: the proof of theorem 133 17 Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: the proof of theorem 133 (77) (76) F a F(y) F (y) F(a) F
(a) f (x, a) We begin with definition 76. f (x, y) First we have to transform the definition into a conditional using theorem 68 as rule. F F() () f (, ) 18 Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: the proof of theorem 133 (77)
(78) a F(y) F(a) f (x, y) f (x, a) F() We begin with definition 76. First we have to transform the definition into a conditional using theorem 68 as rule. Now we need to reorder the conditions. f (, ) f (x, y) 18 Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: the proof of theorem 133
(78) a F(y) f (x, y) F(a) f (x, a) F() We begin with definition 76. First we have to transform the definition into a conditional using theorem 68 as rule. Now we need to reorder the conditions. Now we reorganize according to the rule in axiom 2. f (, ) 18 Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: the proof of theorem 133
(78) (79) F(y) f (x, y) F() a f (, ) F(a) f (x, a) We begin with definition 76. First we have to transform the definition into a conditional using theorem 68 as rule. Now we need to reorder the conditions. Now we reorganize according to the rule in axiom 2. F() f (, ) 18
Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: the proof of theorem 133 (79) (81) F(y) f (x, y) F() aa f (, ) F(a) (x,a) a) ff(x, F() F() f f(, (,) ) F(x)
(74) a F(a) F(y) f (x, a) y) F() f (, ) F(x) We begin with definition 76. First we have to transform the definition into a conditional using theorem 68 as rule. Now we need to reorder the conditions. Now we reorganize according to the rule in axiom 2. The next step in Freges presentation is governed by the rule in theorem 5 and signals that in fact we are going to use hypothetical syllogism. We will do this directly. We assume as proven theorem 74 (derived ultimately from definition 69 of being hereditary in a sequence). But we need it in a slightly altered form.
Now we can make our join. 18 Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: the proof of theorem 133 This is the sequence of steps we just looked at. Now we focus on these joining inferences. 19 Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: the proof of theorem 133 126 125 20 122 123 20
19 120 122 112 121 120 112 112 114 124 110 110 Frege has this series of joining inferences. Both theorems 19 and 20 function as 5 does to license (a form of) hypothetical syllogism. So we can get rid of them and reason directly.
120 20 Reasoning in Begriffsschrift: the proof of theorem 133 (126) f (m, x) f (x, m) 126 f (y, m) f (y, x) I f (, )
f (x , m ) f (y, m) f (y, x) I f (, ) (124) (114) 114 124 f (y, a) f (y, x)
I f (, ) (122) (120) f (x, a) (a x) f (y, a) f (y, x) I f (, ) 120 (112)
(110) 110 122 a f (x , a ) (a x) f (m, x) f (x, m)
f (x, m) f (x, m) f (y, m) f (x , a ) f (y, a) 112 21 Frege claims that the proof of theorem 133 extends our knowledge in a way that the proof of, say, theorem 5 does not. But what, aside from complexity, does the proof of 133 have that the proof of 5 does not? Both require us to regard a formula now this way and now that. Both involve the construction of grounds and bridges to take us from something we have to something we want. Both require a kind of experimentation to determine not only what rule to apply but, in cases in which content is to be added, what it is useful to add.
And although the derivation of 5 does not, other derivations in Part II involve inferences that join content from two axioms just as Freges proof of 133 involves inferences that join content from two definitions. 22 Why should we think that a theorem that joins content from two definitions extends our knowledge, though a theorem that joins content from two axioms does not? 23 An axiom is a judgment, a truth of logic that can be transformed into a rule of inference. It is immediately evident (einleuchtend) but does not go without saying. A definition is a stipulation that immediately yields a judgment, one that is utterly trivial. That judgment is not merely immediately evident; it is self-evident (selbstverstndlich) and goes without saying. 24 But although they are trivial in themselves, the judgments that derive from definitions enable one to forge logical bonds among the concepts
designated by the defined signs. In this case we are not merely joining content in a thought that can be variously analyzed (as is the case in the derivation of a theorem of logic); we are forging logical bonds among particular concepts, those designated by the defined signs. By forging such bonds, the construction extends our knowledge of those concepts. 25 Kant on constructive algebraic problem solving: Even the way algebraists proceed with their equations, from which by which means by means of reduction of reduction they bring theyforth bring theforth truththe
together truth with together the proof, with the is not proof, a geometrical is not a geometrical construction, construction, but it is still butaitcharacteristic is still a construction, characteristic in construction, which one displays in whichby one signs displays in intuition by signs
theinconcepts .intuition . . and, without the concepts even .regarding . . and, without the heuristic, even regarding secures all theinferences against heuristic, mistakes securesby allplacing inferences eachagainst of them mistakes before ones by placing eyes.each (A734/ B762) of them before ones eyes. (A734/B762)
26 Peirce on mathematical reasoning: Deduction has two parts. For its first step must be, by logical analysis, to Explicate the hypothesis, i.e., to render it as perfectly distinct as possible . . . Explication is followed by Demonstration, or Deductive Argumentation. Its procedure is best learned from Book I of Euclids Elements. (Essential Peirce, p. 441) Kant is entirely right in saying that, in drawing those consequences, the mathematician uses what, in geometry, is called a construction, or in general a diagram, or visual array of characters or lines. (Collected Papers, III, p. 350) 27 Frege on ampliative deductive proof: The conclusions . . . are contained in the definitions . . . as plants are contained in their seeds. (Grundlagen 88) The proof, that is, the course or activity of constructing, actualizes the conclusion; it forges logical bonds among the defined concepts that are originally given separately in different definitions. The activity of reasoning from definitions brings forth the truth together with the proof. In a slogan,
28 proofs without definitions are empty, merely the aimless manipulation of signs according to rules of construction. And definitions without proofs are, if not blind, then dumb: only a proof can realize the potential of definitions to speak to one another, to pool their resources so as to realize something new. 29 133 Powerpoint designed by Hannah Kovacs 23
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