Friday, 11 March 2011

Tracking Reason: Proof, Consequence, and Truth

Tracking Reason: Proof, Consequence, and Truth
Jody Azzouni | 2008-01-01 00:00:00 | Oxford University Press | 256 | Philosophy
As with most of Azzouni's writings, apparently, this book spans topics in metaphysics, logic, philosophy of mathematics and semantics, and should be of interest to anyone working in either of those disciplines. It could, with some justification, be claimed that this broad interests is also one of the weaknesses of the book - not that Azzouni necessarily tries to bite more than he can chew, but the book displays a certain tendency to be slightly all over the place - at once.

The first part argues for a certain kind of deflationism about truth, and spends much time on the exact regimentation needed (especially defining his anaphorically unrestricted quantifiers able to quantify into both sentential and nominal positions), including an interesting but perhaps not wholly convincing take on the semantic paradoxes. The second part is devoted to the role of mathematical proof, and the third part brings the previous two together (sort of) in an account of consequence as truth-preservation. To me, part I is the most important - it advocates views which might sound, at first, quite - shall we say - idiosyncratic, but Azzouni's arguments are penetrating and thought-provoking and whether or not they are successful, at least brings several new and important considerations to the issues.

On the whole, this is an entertaining and well-written book - but it has a tendency to go off on all sorts of slightly tangential issues (again, at once!), and it is sometimes a little unclear exactly where we are located in the flow of arguments. Still, this is a refreshing, thought-provoking and valuable addition to the topics. And note: Whatever way you usually read books: Do not miss the footnotes here! Often, important steps are, for some reason or other, relegated to footnotes, and crucial distinctions sometimes appear here rather than in the main text.
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