, Volume 79, Issue 1, pp 81–97 | Cite as

The Undergeneration of Permutation Invariance as a Criterion for Logicality

  • Catarina Dutilh Novaes


Permutation invariance is often presented as the correct criterion for logicality. The basic idea is that one can demarcate the realm of logic by isolating specific entities—logical notions or constants—and that permutation invariance would provide a philosophically motivated and technically sophisticated criterion for what counts as a logical notion. The thesis of permutation invariance as a criterion for logicality has received considerable attention in the literature in recent decades, and much of the debate is developed against the background of ideas put forth by Tarski in a 1966 lecture (Tarski 1966/1986). But as noted by Tarski himself in the lecture, the permutation invariance criterion yields a class of putative ‘logical constants’ that are essentially only sensitive to the number of elements in classes of individuals. Thus, to hold the permutation invariance thesis essentially amounts to limiting the scope of logic to quantificational phenomena, which is controversial at best and possibly simply wrong. In this paper, I argue that permutation invariance is a misguided approach to the nature of logic because it is not an adequate formal explanans for the informal notion of the generality of logic. In particular, I discuss some cases of undergeneration of the criterion, i.e. the fact that it excludes from the realm of logic operators that we have good reason to regard as logical, especially some modal operators.


Modal Logic Accessibility Relation Quantificational Phenomenon Logical Constant Numerical Identity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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