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A Logic of Exceptions

Colignatus, Thomas

A LOGIC OF EXCEPTIONS provides the concepts and tools for sound inference. Discussed are: (1) the basic elements: propositional operators, predicates and sets; (2) the basic notions: inference, syllogism, axiomatics, proof theory; (3) the basic extra’s: history, relation to the scientific method, the paradoxes. The new elements in the book are: (4) a logic of exceptions, solutions for those paradoxes, analysis of common errors in the literature, routines in Mathematica. The book is intended to be used in the first year of college or university. The last two chapters require a more advanced level that is worked up to.

Logic is used not only in science and mathematics but also in business and sometimes in politics and government. Logic and inference however can suffer from paradoxes such as the Liar paradox “This sentence is false” or the proof-theoretic variant by Gödel “This statement is not provable” or the Russell set paradox of “The catalogue of all catalogues that don’t mention themselves”. This book explains and solves those paradoxes, and thereby gives a clarity that was lacking up to now. The author proposes the new approach that a concept, such as the definition of truth or the notion of proof or the definition of a set, also reckons with the exceptions that may pertain to its very definition. The approach to keep exceptions in the back of one’s mind is a general sign of intelligence.

A quote from this book: “Since the Egyptians, mankind has been trying to solve the problem of bureaucracy. One frequent approach is the rule of law, say, that a supreme law-giver defines a rule that a bureaucracy must enforce. It is difficult for a law however to account for all kinds of exceptions that might be considered in its implementation. Ruthless enforcement might well destroy the very intentions of that law. Some bureaucrats might still opt for such enforcement merely to play it safe that nobody can say that they don't do their job. Decades may pass before such detrimental application is noticed and revised. There is the story of Catherine the Great regularly visiting a small park for a rest in the open air, so that they put a guard there; and some hundred years after her death somebody noticed that guarding that small park had become kind of silly. When both law-givers and bureaucrats grow more aware of some logic of exceptions then they might better deal with the contingencies of public management. It is a long shot to think so, of course, but in general it would help when people are not only aware of the rigour of a logical argument or rule but also of the possibility of some exception.”

You can benefit from this book also when you don’t have the software. However, with the software, you will have an interactive environment in which you can test the propositions in this book and your own deductions. The software is included in The Economics Pack - by the same author - which is an application of Mathematica, a system for doing mathematics with the computer. The Pack has users in many countries in the world. The Pack is available for Windows XP, Macintosh and Unix platforms and requires Mathematica 8.0.1 or later. It can be freely downloaded, but you need a licence to run it.

ISBN 978-90-804774-7-6. The book website is:
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