The Review of Symbolic Logic

Research Articles

TRACTARIAN FIRST-ORDER LOGIC: IDENTITY AND THE N-OPERATOR

BRIAN ROGERSa1 c1 and KAI F. WEHMEIERa1 c2

a1 Logic & Philosophy of Science, UC Irvine

Abstract

In the Tractatus, Wittgenstein advocates two major notational innovations in logic. First, identity is to be expressed by identity of the sign only, not by a sign for identity. Secondly, only one logical operator, called “N” by Wittgenstein, should be employed in the construction of compound formulas. We show that, despite claims to the contrary in the literature, both of these proposals can be realized, severally and jointly, in expressively complete systems of first-order logic. Building on early work of Hintikka’s, we identify three ways in which the first notational convention can be implemented, show that two of these are compatible with the text of the Tractatus, and argue on systematic and historical grounds, adducing posthumous work of Ramsey’s, for one of these as Wittgenstein’s envisaged method. With respect to the second Tractarian proposal, we discuss how Wittgenstein distinguished between general and non-general propositions and argue that, claims to the contrary notwithstanding, an expressively adequate N-operator notation is implicit in the Tractatus when taken in its intellectual environment. We finally introduce a variety of sound and complete tableau calculi for first-order logics formulated in a Wittgensteinian notation. The first of these is based on the contemporary notion of logical truth as truth in all structures. The others take into account the Tractarian notion of logical truth as truth in all structures over one fixed universe of objects. Here the appropriate tableau rules depend on whether this universe is infinite or finite in size, and in the latter case on its exact finite cardinality.

As it is obviously easy to express how propositions can be constructed by means of this operation and how propositions are not to be constructed by means of it, this must be capable of exact expression.

5.503

(Received February 07 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 LOGIC & PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, UC IRVINE, IRVINE, CA 92697 E-mail: brogers@uci.edu (Brian Rogers)

c2 LOGIC & PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, UC IRVINE, IRVINE, CA 92697 E-mail: wehmeier@uci.edu (Kai Wehmeier)