An Argument from Proof Theory against Implicit Conventionalism

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Conventionalism about logic is the view that logical principles hold in virtue of some linguistic conventions. According to explicit conventionalism, these conventions have to be stipulated explicitly. Explicit conventionalism is subject to a famous criticism by Quine, who accused it of leading to an infinite regress. In response to the criticism, several authors have suggested reconstructing conventionalism as implicit in our linguistic behaviour. In this paper, drawing on a distinction from proof theory between derivable and admissible rules, I argue that implicit conventionalism has not been stated in a sufficiently precise way, as it leaves open what one needs to say about admissible yet underivable rules. Moreover, it turns out that this challenge cannot be easily met, and that any attempt to meet the challenge makes conventionalism much less attractive a thesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-290
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Quine
  • amissible rules
  • conventionalism
  • proof theory
  • rule-following

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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