What is Neo-Logicism?


Bernard Linsky and Edward N. Zalta


The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, 12/1 (2006): 60-99.


Abstract: In this paper, we investigate (1) what can be salvaged from the original project of "logicism" and (2) what is the best that can be done if we lower our sights a bit. Logicism is the view that "mathematics is reducible to logic alone", and there are a variety of reasons why it was a non-starter. We consider the various ways of weakening this claim so as to produce a "neologicism". Three ways are discussed: (1) expand the conception of logic used in the reduction, (2) allow the addition of analytic-sounding principles to logic so that the reduction is not to "logic alone" but to logic and truths knowable a priori, and (3) revise the conception of "reducible". We show how the current versions of neologicism fit into this classification scheme, and then focus on a kind of neologicism which we take to have the most potential for achieving the epistemological goals of the original logicist project. We argue that that the "weaker" the form of neologicism, the more likely it is to be a new form of logicism, and show how our preferred system, though mathematically weak, is metaphysically and epistemogically strong, and can "reduce" arbitrary mathematical theories to logic and analytic truths, if given a legitimate new sense of "reduction".

[Preprint available online in PDF]