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Form without formalism

Campbell, Christopher Alan (2008) Form without formalism. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The systematisation of deductive inference can yield an account of the structure of sentences (propositions, thoughts) involved in such inference. In mainstream contemporary analytic philosophy, the idea of "logical form" is linked, explicitly or implicitly, with the idea of such a systematisation. But this is not the only thing one might mean by "logical form". An enquiry into the structures of thoughts can be motivated by considerations besides inferential behaviour. In this dissertation I sketch an alternative conception according to which the uncovering of the logical structure of discourse proceeds from no single principle but rather piecemeal, from region of discourse to region of discourse. On this conception, the availability of a syntactic characterisation of the valid inference patterns in which a judgment participates is not a necessary condition for the attribution to it of a certain logical form.I argue that Frege's revolutionary application of function-argument analysis to logic plays a central rôle in his equation of the categories in terms of which to ascribe structure to thoughts with the syntactic categories needed for the systematisation of inference. Though the application is plausible in the case of mathematics, I argue that function-argument analysis is ill suited to the analysis of predicative structure generally. As an illustration of this claim, following Michael Thompson's lead, I discuss "natural-historical judgments," a type of generic judgment about living things. I walk through a series of formal-semantic proposals for generic sentences, arguing that each founders on its imposition of function-argument analysis on natural-historical judgments. The logical form of natural-historical judgments is not to be understood on the functional model; the categories deployed in their grasp are not explained by their use in codifying inference patterns.I associate the view that the uncovering of logical form is a piecemeal, unprincipled affair with the later work of Wittgenstein. I bring out how Wittgenstein's engagement in the Tractatus with Frege's and Russell's conceptions of logic paves the way for his later development of the notion of grammar in the Investigations, in order to show how the conception of form I advocate has a genuine claim to logicality.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Campbell, Christopher
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMcDowell, Johnjmcdowel@pitt.eduJMCDOWEL
Committee MemberGupta, Anilagupta@pitt.eduAGUPTA
Committee MemberThompson, Michaelmthompso@pitt.eduMTHOMPSO
Committee MemberRödl,
Committee MemberEngstrom, Stephenengstrom@pitt.eduENGSTROM
Date: 29 October 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 20 June 2008
Approval Date: 29 October 2008
Submission Date: 4 August 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Frege; function-argument analysis; generic sentence; logical form; Wittgenstein
Other ID:, etd-08042008-231645
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:57
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:48


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