Whence admissibility constraints? From inferentialism to tolerance (Brett Topey)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on October 2nd from 4:15-6:15 (NY time) in-person at the Graduate Center (Room 4419) for a talk by Brett Topey (Salzburg).

Title: Whence admissibility constraints? From inferentialism to tolerance

Abstract: Prior’s invented connective ‘tonk’ is sometimes taken to reveal a problem for certain inferentialist approaches to metasemantics: according to such approaches, the truth-theoretic features of our expressions are fully determined by the rules of inference we’re disposed to follow, but admitting the ‘tonk’ rules into a language would lead to intuitively absurd results. Inferentialists tend to insist that they can avoid these results: there are constraints on what sets of inference rules can be admitted into a language, the story goes, and the rules governing disruptive expressions like ‘tonk’ are defective and so illegitimate. I argue, though, that from an inferentialist perspective, there’s no genuine sense in which rules like the ‘tonk’ rules are defective; those who endorse the relevant sort of inferentialism turn out to be committed to Carnap’s principle of tolerance. I then sketch an argument to the effect that this, despite appearances, isn’t a problem for inferentialism.

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