Use and mention in formal languages (James Walsh)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on December 4th from 4:15-6:15 (NY time) in-person at the Graduate Center (Room 4419) for a talk by James Walsh (NYU).

Title: Use and mention in formal languages

Abstract: Quine’s distinction between use and mention is one of the cornerstones of analytic philosophy. The distinction is typically motivated with examples from natural language, but Quine also applied the distinction to the formal languages studied in mathematical logic. I will argue that such expressions are not used in Quine’s sense, so the distinction cannot appropriately be applied to them. Accordingly, the standard practice of placing quotation marks around expressions of formal languages is incorrect. This technical point serves as a springboard for discussing the role that formal languages play in mathematical logic.

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