Busting a myth about Leśniewski and definitions

TitleBusting a myth about Leśniewski and definitions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsUrbaniak, R, K Hämäri, S
JournalHistory and philosophy of logic

A theory of definitions which places the eliminability and conservativeness requirements on definitions is usually called the standard theory. We examine a persistent myth which credits this theory to Lesniewski, a Polish logician. After a brief survey of its origins, we show that the myth is highly dubious. First, no place in Lesniewski's published or unpublished work is known where the standard conditions are discussed. Second, Lesniewski's own logical theories allow for creative definitions. Third, Lesniewski's celebrated 'rules of definition' lay merely syntactical restrictions on the form of definitions: they do not provide definitions with such meta-theoretical requirements as eliminability or conservativeness. On the positive side, we point out that among the Polish logicians, in the 1920s and 1930s, a study of these meta-theoretical conditions is more readily found in the works of Lukasiewicz and Ajdukiewicz.

Citation Key3148393
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