Thinking about Logic

Classic Essays


Edited by Steven M. Cahn; Robert B. Talisse; Scott F. Aikin

First Edition • August 1, 2010 • 224 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813344690 • $31.00 USD$102.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813391854 • $19.99 USD$22.99 CAN

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Thinking about Logic is an accessible and thought-provoking collection of classic articles in the philosophy of logic. An ideal companion to any formal logic course or textbook, this volume illuminates how logic relates to perennial philosophical issues about knowledge, meaning, rationality, and reality. The editors have selected each essay for its brevity, clarity, and impact and have included insightful introductions and discussion questions. The puzzles raised will help readers acquire a more thorough understanding of fundamental logic concepts and a firmer command of the connections between formal logic and other areas of philosophical study: epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and metaphysics.


Steven M. Cahn is professor of philosophy at the Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York. He is the author of numerous books, including Puzzles and Perplexities: Collected Essays and Philosophical Explorations: Freedom, God, and Goodness. Among the many volumes he has edited and coedited are Philosophy for the 21st Century: A Comprehensive Reader; Knowledge and Reality; Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy; and Classic and Contemporary Readings in the Philosophy of Education.

Robert B. Talisse is professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt University. His books include Democracy and Moral Conflict; Pragmatism: A Guide for the Perplexed; A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy; and Democracy after Liberalism. He has also coedited numerous volumes, including The Pragmatic Turn; Political Problems; and A Teacher’s Life: Essays for Steven Cahn.

Scott F. Aikin is a senior lecturer at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Epistemology and the Regress Problem, coauthor of Pragmatism: A Guide for the Perplexed, and coeditor of The Pragmatic Turn.

Part One. Logic and Knowledge
1. Lewis Carroll, “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles”
2. W. J. Rees, “What Achilles Said to the Tortoise”
3. J. F. Thompson, “What Achilles Should Have Said to the Tortoise”

Part Two. Logic and Definition
4. A. N. Prior, “The Runabout Inference Ticket”
5. J. T. Stevenson, “Roundabout the Runabout Inference Ticket”
6. Nuel Belnap, “Tonk, Plonk, and Plink”

Part Three. Logic and Inference
7. Vann McGee, “A Counterexample to Modus Ponens”
8. E. J. Lowe, “Not a Counterexample to Modus Ponens”
9. D. E. Over, “Assumptions and the Supposed Counterexamples to Modus Ponens”

Part Four. Logic and Freedom
10. Gilbert Ryle, “It Was to Be”
11. Richard Taylor, “Fatalism”
12. Steven Cahn and Richard Taylor, “Time, Truth, and Ability”

Part Five. Logic and Reality
13. Susan Haack, “The Justification of Deduction”
14. Nelson Goodman, “The Problem of Counterfactual Conditionals”
15. W. V. O. Quine, “On What There Is”

“The editors have compiled a very fine collection of essays on the nature of logic as it relates to broad philosophical concerns. This volume should serve as a valuable tool for students to see the applicability of formal logical techniques and results. It is a useful antidote to what can—and for students often does—seem to be the insulated nature of formal logic.”
—David Boersema, Distinguished University Professor, Pacific University

“The formal logic that we teach in our introductory classes is simple, elegant, and as this thoughtfully conceived collection reminds us, often extremely puzzling. Thinking about Logic will motivate students to reflect both on fundamental notions of basic logic and on the relationship between formal reasoning and reasoning in other contexts. Undergraduate courses will be enriched and improved by adding it to the list of required readings.”
—Danielle Macbeth, T. Wistar Brown Professor and Chair of Philosophy, Haverford College

“Anyone who studies formal logic is bound at some point to wonder what logic is all about. Thinking about the philosophical issues as you go along can help bring logic to life. This collection of classic papers is the ideal place to begin an exploration of the philosophy of logic.”
—Derek Turner, Connecticut College

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