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Peirce's Truth-functional Analysis and the Origin of the Truth Table

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We explore the technical details and historical evolution of Charles Peirce's articulation of a truth table in 1893, against the background of his investigation into the truth-functional analysis of propositions involving implication. In 1997, John Shosky discovered, on the verso of a page of the typed transcript of Bertrand Russell's 1912 lecture on ‘The Philosophy of Logical Atomism’ truth table matrices. The matrix for negation is Russell's, alongside of which is the matrix for material implication in the hand of Ludwig Wittgenstein. It is shown that an unpublished manuscript identified as composed by Peirce in 1893 includes a truth table matrix that is equivalent to the matrix for material implication discovered by John Shosky. An unpublished manuscript by Peirce identified as having been composed in 1883–1884 in connection with the composition of Peirce's ‘On the Algebra of Logic: A Contribution to the Philosophy of Notation’ that appeared in the American Journal of Mathematics in 1885 includes an example of an indirect truth table for the conditional.
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Keywords: 03-03; 03B35; Peirce; primary: 03B05; propositions; secondary: 01A55-01A60; truth tables; truth-functional analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Peirce Edition Project,Institute for American Thought, Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis, IndianapolisIN46202, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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