Foundations for the Logic of Questions and Commands

Foundations for the Logic of Questions and Commands

Roderic A. Girle (University of Auckland, New Zealand) and Jonathan McKeown-Green (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6256-8.ch011


Recent interest in logics for questions and commands has been prompted partly by a recognition that reasoned argument often involves moves that are not truth-evaluable, and partly by the use of questions and commands in most procedural programming. The authors argue that certain methodological issues must be addressed before we can agree on the purpose and nature of logics for questions and commands. They deny that formulas in such logics should correspond to sentences in ordinary language. They consider how formulas should be interpreted, focusing especially on questions. The authors argue that logics designed to capture the conditions for correct reasoning involving questions require a semantics that treats question-answer pairs as values. This emphasis brings to the fore issues about questions in premise-conclusion arguments. In both premise-conclusion and dialogical argumentation, the authors argue that logic should aim to capture moves in reasoning, not facts about sentences.
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Inferences Involving Questions And Commands

Consider an: illustrative declarative sentence.

(1) The figure drawn on the board is obviously a square

Much can be said, some of it confidently, about what that sentence entails. We can agree that (1) entails the sentence:

(2) Something is obviously a squareand logic has much to say about the formal features of (1) and (2) that explain this. (1) also entails the sentence:

(3) The figure drawn on the board is a quadrilateralthough theorists disagree about how to explain this entailment. By contrast, given an interrogative sentence like:

(4) Is George Washington a capital city?logic has had little to say over the centuries about which sentences, if any, it entails and which, if any, are entailed by it. Likewise, for an imperative like:

(5) Get those dishes washed immediately!

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