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Lewis Carroll's Formal Logic

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Charles L. Dodgson's reputation as a significant figure in nineteenth-century logic was firmly established when the philosopher and historian of philosophy William Warren Bartley, III published Dodgson's 'lost' book of logic, Part II of Symbolic Logic , in 1977. Bartley's commentary and annotations confirm that Dodgson was a superb technical innovator. In this paper, I closely examine Dodgson's methods and their evolution in the two parts of Symbolic Logic to clarify and justify Bartley's claims. Then, using more recent publications and unpublished letters, I argue that Dodgson approached the elimination problem in class logic differently than his contemporaries, and in doing so, anticipated several important concepts and techniques in automated deductive reasoning. These materials also provide additional insight into his reasons for writing this book.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2005

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