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Busting a Myth about Leśniewski and Definitions

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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 Leśniewski, a Polish logician. After a brief survey of its origins, we show that the myth is highly dubious. First, no place in Leśniewski's published or unpublished work is known where the standard conditions are discussed. Second, Leśniewski's own logical theories allow for creative definitions. Third, Leśniewski'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 Łukasiewicz and Ajdukiewicz.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, Sociology and Journalism,Gdańsk University, Gdańsk, Poland 2: Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies,University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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