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Leiden Theoretical Philosophy Colloquium with Joke Spruyt, 'What if...? Thirteenth-century conceptions of (logical) necessity'

Thursday 11 April 2019
Past events 2019
P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden

The Leiden Theoretical Philosophy Colloquium Series is pleased to announce a lecture by

Joke Spruyt (Maastricht)


The thirteenth century was alive with discussions of syncategorematic words, a class of words that includes what we nowadays would call logical operators. Authors considered not only the grammatical and semantic features of these expressions, but took a great interest in their logical behaviour as well. Theories outlining their significatio were developed, and many sample sentences and arguments were produced to explain how the occurrence of syncategorematic words in a proposition would affect the interpretation of expressions surrounding it. Entire discussions were devoted to analyses of so called sophismata, puzzling sentences whose truth value is difficult to determine because of the syncategorematic expressions they contain.

In this talk I will concentrate on thirteenth-century conceptions of inference (or more precisely consequentia, as it was called at the time), which is closely associated with accounts of two syncategorematic words, viz. necessario (‘necessarily’, and its counterpart contingenter (‘contingently’)) and the consecutive expression si (‘if’). What does it mean for something to logically follow from something else? What are the necessary requirements to label a string of assertions as a consequentia? What do the expressions necessario/ contingenter and si mean within the context of argumentation?


Joke Spruyt is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of Maastricht University. Her main field of research is thirteenth-century logic and semantics. She is currently collaborating with Professor em. H.A.G. Braakhuis on the edition of the Summae Metenses (a handbook on logic) by Nicholas of Paris (13th century).

Leiden Theoretical Philosophy Series

The aim of the series is to present lectures expressing non-standard views on philosophical questions relating to knowledge, truth, science, logic, metaphysics, and the mind, including their history.

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