Logic and Rhetoric

Cambridge, the weekend of 28th-29th October 2006. Meeting Room 5, the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Wilberforce Road, Cambridge.

Logic in the modern age is predominantly Mathematical Logic; it has been immensely useful and is greatly to be cherished. However, we should not forget that most of the time reasoning is not used for anything as innocent and benign as merely proving theorems or teasing out consequences of scientific hypotheses, but to transact power relations. By the same token one tends to forget that some of the earlier works to which the historians of Modern Logic trace its origins (Church's bibliography is a good source) are in fact treatises on - or essays in - Rhetoric.

The purpose of this conference will be to explore the other - and darker - uses of Logic and to remind ourselves of its neglected roots in Rhetoric.

Papers are invited on topics related to these themes. This may appeal to people in Commonsense Reasoning, in Political Science and in Linguistics as well as to people in History of Logic. One particular interest of mine is the nature of rhetorical devices used in philosophical debate.
The participants are Edwin Coleman, Charles Pigden, Richard Boyd, Jamie Dow, Karin Verelst, Constantin Athanasopoulos, Nicholas Shackel, Thomas Forster and Piers Bursill-Hall.

The conference is being funded by the St. Luke's Institute. (St Luke's also funded Buddhism In Logic and Analytic Philosophy: www.dpmms.cam.ac.uk/~tf/BILAP.html, and the proceedings of BILAP are being prepared for publication even as I write this). The plan is that the proceedings will appear in a special number of Logique et Analyse.

Provisional Programme
Charles Pigden, (University of Otago)
Coercive theories of meaning .

Karin Verelst (VUB Brussels)
Infinity and the Sublime .
Edwin Coleman (Melbourne)
Pernicious Logical Metaphors.
Richard Boyd (Cornell)
Approximation, Inferential Practices and Malignant Conceptual Competence .
Piers Bursill-Hall (Cambridge)
Jamie Dow (Leeds)
Rhetoric without proofs is no rhetoric at all. How Aristotle first connected Logic and Rhetoric .
Nick Shackel
Rhetorical Manoeuvres, Sophistry and Pragmatism . A traditional pastime of philosophers is analysing sophistry. Some rhetorical manoeuvres border on subtle rejections of the normative status philosophers have traditionally accorded logical principles of reasoning. This paper considers whether some such manoeuvres amount to or can be grounded in a pragmatist challenge to certain conceptions of rationality, or whether they can be dismissed as sophistical.
Constantinos Athanasopoulos
The Importance of Aristotle's views on Ousia in the Categories: The road to Rhetoric and its use in Logic and Metaphysics. .

Verelst will be staying at Clare Hall; Coleman, Boyd and Pigden will be staying at Churchill College; Shackel, Dow and Cathanas will be at the Cambridge Lodge Hotel in Huntingdon road.
Return to Thomas Forster's home page