Quine’s Philosophy of Logic Course for the fall semester, 2006 Department of Philosophy, Soochow University Chienkuo Mi, Associate Professor Course Outline



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Quine’s Philosophy of Logic

Course for the fall semester, 2006

Department of Philosophy, Soochow University

Chienkuo Mi, Associate Professor
Course Outline:
This course is meant to focus on an important text, Philosophy of Logic, written by an important philosopher as well as logician, W. V. Quine, in the field of philosophy of logic in 20th century. W. V. Quine is one of the most influential of contemporary philosophers, whose work has ranged across a great number of topics and issues in a career spanning some fifty years (1950s ~ the end of 20th century). Since the publication of Frege’s Begriffsschrift, we have witnessed a tremendous growth in the development and the study of logical systems. The central concern of the philosophy of logic is to investigate the philosophical problems raised by logic and those logical systems, and to deal with some philosophical notions closely related to the construction of logical systems. It is commonly agreed that logic is to discriminate valid from invalid argument forms; and formal logical systems, such as the familiar sentence and predicate calculi, are intended to supply precise criteria of validity in purely formal standards. So among the characteristically philosophical questions raised by the enterprise of logic are the followings:

  1. What does it mean to say that an argument is valid?

  2. What does it mean to say that one statement logically follows from another?

  3. What does it mean to say that a statement is logically true or logically false?

  4. Is validity to be explained as relative to some formal system?

  5. Is there an extra-systematic idea that formal systems aim to represent?

  6. How do formal logical systems help one to assess informal arguments?

  7. How like is the relation between ordinary sentential conjunctions and logical connectives?

  8. Is there one correct formal logic?

  9. Which formal systems count as logics, and why?

  10. What is the concept of truth?

  11. What does a theory of truth have anything to do with logic?

The role of logic in philosophy has featured its potential both as a tool for the precise expression of arguments and a source of philosophical puzzles and paradoxes. Philosophers interested in logic are concerned among other questions with the correct interpretation of logical expressions, with the formal semantics and ontology of logic, the metaphysical status of objects, properties, relations, propositions, and functions and operators referred to in logic, and with the paradoxes that can be formulated by means of particular logical notations, their significance and the innovations to which they can give rise in the effort to solve or avoid them.


Quine’s Philosophy of Logic is a rich and wide-ranging text as usual, which takes for granted a good deal of distinctively “Quinean” philosophy. This book combines Quine’s ingenious logical point of views with his insightful philosophical perspectives. Among many important philosophical points involved in logic, the notions of “meaning” (“proposition”), “truth”, “logical grammar (or structure)”, and “logical truth” are especially taken care of in this book; plus some philosophically controversial issues, such as the scope of logic, the status of deviant logics, and the ground of logical truth, also come to the fore at the end chapters of the book.

Required textbook:
W. V. Quine, Philosophy of Logic, second edition. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 1970.

Course Evaluation:
One term paper (approximately 10 pages) is required. (50%)

Two in-class presentations will be scheduled. (40%)



Regular, well-prepared, and thoughtful class participation will be expected. (10%)
Directory: ~cmi -> pdf -> graduate

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