Jack Woods 30.12.15

Jack Woods 30.12.15-page-001

Modest Inferentialism, the view that inferential role fixes the meaning of (at least logical) expressions, against a background grasp of meaning, has had a bit of a checkered history. In this piece, I show problems with this view and criteria for a successful version of it. I show how the best extant version of modest inferentialism, due to James Garson, has trouble with these criteria and discuss what is needed to overcome these problems. To solve them, I develop an interpretation of the formal model-theoretic conditions which Garson-style modest inferentialism generates for the classical rules for the connectives which, in turn, motivates a principled restriction on admissible models. This involves a discussion of how to represent contingency in a modest inferentialist setting, the role of an intuitive interpretation in justifying side-conditions on models, and what atomic sentences represent in this setting. This interpretation satises the intuitive criteria for a successful modest-inferentialist account of the meaning of the logical connectives; it is a strong contender, I reckon, for an internally satisfying account of the meaning of the logical connectives|and one which does not extend to intuitionistic logic. This last point furnishes a not entirely disreputable argument against intuitionistic logic in favor of something approximating classical.