I'm contemplating another attempt at completing my long delayed MA in Philosophy, and I need a new thesis topic. As a student I excelled in advanced symbolic logic, but my connection with academic philosophical writing has always been tenuous.

Can you direct me towards good examples of essays in current topics in philosophy of logic?

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    I read an essay by Per Martin-Lof a whole ago that I found useful, he's very well known for intuitionistic type theory - which is probably too mathematical given your stated aims, however the essay I read went into Kants analytic/synthetic distinction, tracing it back to Locke but also to how language is used; it may not be to your taste, but I found his style in the essay, both engaging and accessible; another name might be Hintikka, unfortunately I haven't read him, so I can't say very much there; but I gather he's done some decent work. Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 9:15
  • When I get access to a decent library, I might be able to expand this to a halfway decent answer; for now, this comment will have to do. Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 9:46
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    Usually a good place to look for current issues in specific subjects is SEP. The authors usually reference works from recent years. But I would strongly recommend talking to your advisor.
    – E...
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 9:28
  • @MoziburUllah Mathematical is fine, in fact I think I'd prefer that. Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 18:18

2 Answers 2


A very recent programme is the "transcendental syntax" promoted by Girard, the founder of linear logic, since 2011. As the Kantian name suggests, the idea is to develop a "critique of grammar", intrinsic justification of logical rules that we adopt as conditions of possibility, similar to Kant's justification of the "synthetic a priori". Obviously, logical justifications for logic would be circular, and semantic (empirical) justifications run into well known epistemological problems. The idea is to reinterpret deductions as dynamically executed programs along the lines of Curry-Howard correspondence, introduce tests for and against assertions, and interpret the rules as ensuring successful termination of disputes about them. This partly models the normative practice of logic, which Wittgenstein thought "must be passed over in silence" wholesale. In Girard's words, "transcendental syntax substitutes for the semantics - i.e., the metaphysics of "Real" - the study of the conditions of possibility of logical language", as successfully executable.

Here is Girard's programmatic paper, but I'd start with the more expository On Trascendental syntax: a Kantian program for logic? by Abrusci and Pistone, which puts it into historical context:

"In analogy with Kant’s transcendentalism, indeed, the program tries to raise the issue to deduct, that is, to legitimize the authority exercised by logical languages... without reference to those entities whose representability crucially relies on the use of what is charged of being justified; this constraint was indeed the one making a difference, for Kant, between the transcendental enterprise and metaphysics.

[...] aims at an explanation of how syntactical constraints are related to traditional logical results such as general cut-elimination theorems, completeness and incompleteness theorems. [...] at least two other ambitions: the use of transcendental syntax tools to exert a critical power towards existing syntaxes, by putting together philosophical justifications and purely technical ones and the refinement of actual logical systems, along with a finer understanding of their inner constitutive principles."

Also take a look at the recent volume Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science (2009) edited by Rahman et al. It is a thematic collection of papers centered on the role of logic in analytic philosophy. It reflects a recent movement with the ambition to philosophically revive some aspects of logical positivism (unification of knowledge on the basis of logic), but on Neurath's "encyclopedic" conception rather than Carnap's "elimination of metaphysics through syntax" one. Here is from the programmatic opening article:

"While many philosophers of science have shied away from logic there have, in the meantime, been many important new developments in logic, some of which may have extremely significant applications to questions in epistemology and general philosophy of science. These developments have gone virtually unnoticed in the broader philosophical community. One of the purposes of this volume is to encourage philosophers to recognize the potential riches to be found in recent work in logic, for instance in the plethora of non-classical logics, including, prominently, game theoretical semantics and independence-friendly logic...

Distancing ourselves from scientism does not mean separating ourselves from the project of the Vienna Circle. Quite the opposite. We reject the easy caricatures that too often pass for history with respect to these philosophers and insist instead on emphasizing the progressive, collaborative and optimistic spirit of their Encyclopedia project... Neurath’s boat, like the scientific project itself, is an improvised assembly of components, adjusted on the fly and always subject to reconstruction. Nevertheless, as long as the sailors survive, they find their community engaged in a single unified project."

See also an earlier question What are the major research programmes in contemporary logic?


Susan Haack, Philosophy of Logics

Terrific overview by a terrific philosopher (although I strongly disagree with her on some things).

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    This looks like a great choice, but it's nearly forty years old, is it still reasonably current? Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 14:30
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    I guess it won't tell you what's considered hot in contemporary philosophy departments but its good background reading. There's also Philosophical Logic by John Burgess (2009/2012). You might find Proof-Theoretic Semantics interesting.
    – user20153
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 4:51
  • Another interesting area is Substructural Logic
    – user20153
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 4:54

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