The inconspicuous role of paraphrase

David Sherry

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2 Scopus citations


In formal logic there is a premium on clever paraphrase, for it subsumes troublesome inferences under a familiar theory. (A paradigm is Davidson's analysis 1967 of inferences like ‘He buttered his toast with a knife; so, he buttered his toast’.) But the need for paraphrase in formal logic runs deeper than the odd recalcitrant inference, and thus, I shall argue, commits logicians to some interesting consequences. First, the thesis that arguments are valid in virtue of their form must be severely qualified (§4). And second, it is misleading to view a formal logical theory as a standard for justifying and criticizing inference (§7). The latter point depends on the nature and role of paraphrase, which permit a range of conflicting logical theories. Conflicting logical theories arise from the conflicting goals of logical theorists and the promiscuous nature of paraphrase makes reconciliation impossible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-166
Number of pages16
JournalHistory and Philosophy of Logic
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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