Many philosophers claim that understanding a logical constant (e.g. ‘if, then’) fundamentally consists in having dispositions to infer according to the logical rules (e.g. Modus Ponens) that fix its meaning. This paper argues that such dispositionalist accounts give us the wrong picture of what understanding a logical constant consists in. The objection here is that they give an account of understanding a logical constant which is inconsistent with what seem to be adequate manifestations of such understanding. I then outline an alternative account according to which understanding a logical constant is not to be understood dispositionally, but propositionally. I argue that this account is not inconsistent with intuitively correct manifestations of understanding the logical constants.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Besson, C. 2010. ‘Propositions, Dispositions and Logical Knowledge’.

Besson, C. forthcoming. ‘Logical Knowledge and Ordinary Reasoning’.

Bird, A. 2007. Nature’s Metaphysics: Laws and Properties. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Boghossian, P. 1996a. ‘Analyticity Reconsidered’. Noûs 30: 360–391.

Boghossian, P. 1996b. ‘Analyticity’. In Bob Hale & Crispin Wright (eds.) ‘A Companion to the Philosophy of Language’, 331–368. Oxford: Blackwell.

Boghossian, P. 2000. ‘Knowledge of Logic’. In Paul Boghossian & Christopher Peacocke (eds.) ‘New Essays on the A Priori’, 229–254. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Boghossian, P. 2001. ‘How Are Objective Epistemic Reasons Possible?’ Philosophical Studies 106: 1–40.

Boghossian, P. 2003. ‘Blind Reasoning’. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 77: 225–248.

Boghossian, P. 2004. ‘Is Meaning Normative?’ In Christian Nimtz & Ansgar Beckermann (eds.) ‘Philosophy-Science-Scientific Philosophy’, 205–218. Paderborn: Mentis.

Carroll, L. 1895. ‘What the Tortoise Said to Achilles’. Mind 4: 278–280.

Chomsky, N. 1965. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Devitt, M. 2006. Ignorance of Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fodor, J. 2008. LOT 2, The Language of Thought Revisited. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hale, Bob & Wright, Crispin. 2000. ‘Implicit Definitions and the A Priori’. In Paul Boghossian & Christopher Peacocke (eds.) ‘New Essays on the A Priori’, 286–319. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harman, G. 1982. ‘Conceptual Role Semantics’. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 23(2): 242–256.

Harman, G. 1986. Change in View: Principles of Reasoning. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Mac Farlane, J. 2009. ‘Logical Constants’. In ‘The Stanford Encyclopedia Online:’, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logical-constants/.

Pettit, D. 2002. ‘Why Knowledge is Unnecessary for Understanding Language’. Mind 111 (443): 519–550.

Priest, G. 1979. ‘Two Dogmas of Quineanism’. The Philosophical Quarterly 29: 289–301.

Rumfitt, I. 2000. “‘Yes” and “No”’. Mind 109: 787–829.

Rumfitt, I. 2001. ‘Semantic Theory and Necessary Truth’. Synthèse 126: 283–324.

Ryle, G. 1946. ‘Knowing How and Knowing That’. In ‘Collected Papers’, (reprinted in 1971), vol. 2, 212–225. London: Hutchinson & Co.

Ryle, G. 1949. The Concept of Mind. London: Hutchinson & Co.