Philosophy Profs reveal One True Logic

Date Published: 26.05.2022

...and it's infinite!

One True Logic is co-authored by Alexander Paseau, Tutor in Philosophy at Wadham College and Owen Griffiths of UCL and Cambridge University. While it didn't descend from the heavens, it is the result of an intellectual collaboration with roots in Wadham.

The two first met ten years ago, when Owen - then a PhD student - travelled to Oxford to attend Alex's graduate seminars. Later, Owen stood in for Alex while he was on leave in the academic year 2014-15. Following that, they taught some graduate seminars together, and published several joint articles. They were testing out ideas that now find expression in One True Logic.

Alex said, "The collaboration has been a happy and productive one, and is basically the outcome of our regularly exchanging ideas during the year Owen replaced me."

What does the book argue? Alex breaks it into two main claims:

1) there is just one correct foundational logic

2) this logic is infinite

"In the current state of the field, the second claim is radical."

"In the current state of the field, the second claim is radical," he explains. "Almost everyone assumes that the correct foundational logic is finite." Their argument for this bold claim builds on work by Alfred Tarski and Gila Sher.

Despite the subject matter, Alex assures, "it's written in a non-technical way, with more advanced material relegated to appendices and footnotes." He notes that the book is already on several colleagues' reading lists for the Oxford undergraduate paper on the Philosophy of Logic and Language.

"All philosophy students have to study logic in the first year, and they could look at One True Logic for 'glimpses beyond' that course."

The book, published by OUP, is now available to purchase.

The cover depicts Moses holding the Tables of the Law above his head. "It was found by my partner Marta Weiss, who is a museum curator," Alex said. "It's somewhat tongue in cheek."