Logic In Context: An essay on the contextual foundations of logical pluralism
Simard Smith, Paul Linton
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The core pluralist thesis about logic, broadly construed, is the claim that two or more logics are correct. In this thesis I discuss a uniquely interesting variant of logical pluralism that I call logical contextualism. Roughly, the logical contextualists’ thought is that, for fixed values p and q, the statement “p entails q” and its cognates such as “q is a logical consequence of p” or “the argument from p to q is logically valid,” are true in some contexts and false in others. After developing a contextualist account of logical pluralism I proceed to examine implications that, if true, logical contextualism would have on discussions about reasonable disagreement among epistemic peers and on discussions about the aim and purpose of argumentation. I show that logical contextualism allows for the possibility of logically-based reasonable disagreements among epistemic peers. In the face of such disagreements there is no obligation to revise one’s belief, nor is there any obligation to degrade the peer status of the agent with whom one stands in disagreement. The possibility of logically-based reasonable disagreements, it will be argued, suggests a reconceptualization of the aims and purpose of argumentation. Most accounts of the purpose of argumentation hold that argumentation’s primary purpose is to achieve rational agreement on a contested issue. Such an agreement is thought to require that at least one of the parties in the argumentation change their beliefs or commitments. However, the existence of logically-based reasonable disagreements, I argue, implies that there are some argumentations that ought not to resolve with agreement. Therefore, rather than understanding argumentation as purely an effort to convince an opponent, or as a means to reach consensus, I claim that argumentation ought to be understood as an effort to gain a better understanding of divergent and perhaps irreconcilable perspectives.