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ESSLLI 2012, Opole, Poland
www.esslli2012.pl
Aims and tasks of the Group:



Introduction

Logic brings people together. May this motto, which was coined by Alfred Tarski, be the starting point for the activity of the Group. Since the Group acts in a varied academic environment, concentrating researchers dealing with different disciplines and rooted in different schools of thinking and scientific traditions, then the principal aim is a search for an intellectual plane of understanding. It seems that logic, through its openness and intellectual reliability, is a natural (and indeed indispensable) research tool which serves the purpose of looking for such a plane in an honest way. We all, doing our scientific work, act in a certain manner: describing and collecting facts, justifying certain theses of generalizing character, explaining phenomena, and – first and foremost – creating theories. All the above-mentioned types of activity refer to a certain language of scientific methodology and in a conscious or unconscious way – to a broadly-understood logic. Obviously, each creative linguist, computer programmer, lawyer, biologist, physicist, or humanist, has asked questions to themselves which do not only belong to their specialist research discipline, but also those which are situated on the level of a meta-subject reflexion: how to justify and compare the hypotheses posed, how to properly select the explanatory principle, and how – by means of the latter – explain well-known facts and – eventually – detect new ones. These prosaic remarks direct us to choose the right area of action – it is there that we are going to look for understanding.

However, resorting to Peirce, searching for scientific strategies of agreeing on views is not fully what we are aiming at. (We reject, of course, all dogmatic or mystic strategies, of course). It seems that the existence of contradictions is a permanent (even irremovable) state in the set of competing theories, opinions and hypotheses about the same subjective reference – be it theories relating to the foundations of physics or those concerning the beginnings of the Universe, or “common” political views. The point, which follows from this, is the conclusion that we must assimilate the contradictions that are around and manoeuvre skilfully among them. Keeping the right to defend our own views, it needs to be remembered that the undertaken actions should not burst into pieces the delicate tissue of the intellectual understanding, that an open and living dialogue, despite the existence of deep divisions, should be a dominant distinguishing mark of verbal actions within the sphere of scientific reflexion. In this context, the significance of logic as a universal research tool needs particular underlining, as it serves the purpose of reliable reflexion and scientific practice.

Logic, in short, examines relations occurring between the language, the truth and the meaning. Such an understanding of logic is close to linguists, where the problem area of the meaning takes the lead. (In brief, the meaning is the property of expressions of the language thanks to which we understand them and apply them in communicative categories.) The theory of meaning links logic with pragmatics through taking into account categories of users of the language and focusing the attention on communicative aspects of the language.

Nevertheless, in a colloquial understanding, logic refers to people. We say: “He acts in an illogical way. His last moves are devoid of sense or logic.” In this popular understanding, the role of logic consists in determining the conditions of performability of actions (in some way, for instance, legal, physical ones) and investigating whether or not, in the given conditions, the determined action is performable in some way. Such investigations do not lead, in any case, to rejection of logic in the “regular” academic sense. Logic is not identical with the art of reaching goals, that is with politics, or praxiology, although it is very useful here (e.g. in jurisprudence one is concerned with the issue of violations of norms. Even though one uses justified arguments that legal norms do not bear a true value, examinations into circumstances facilitating (or excluding) application of norms in the individual case fully refer to the rules of logic, as well as the notions of truth and falsity. Let us add here that performability of actions (in a strong sense) in jurisprudence equals non-violation of the existing legal norms).

It is said, in a situational stylization, that an action, be it verbal or non-verbal, creates a new situation. What is more, entering the question of pragmatics, an action is normally subordinate to a certain aim – an intended state of things. One wants to reach this state, working out an action plan first and then, implementing it (at the same time often modifying it), performing strings of various actions, one comes closer to the accepted target.

It is tempting, in this context, to introduce pragmatic variants of the classical definition of the truth. In a slogan-like fashion – whatever guarantees effectiveness of the action is true.

The above remarks direct the reader already towards the proper and more clearly determined aims of the Group. The most important, the broadest and framed in a slightly slogan-like fashion reads – logic in action and interaction.

Detailed aims of the Group’s activity

The aims of the Group are convergent with the tasks of the European Association of Logic, Language and Information (FoLLI). This means, in particular, promotion and propagation of the research attitude shaped by the accomplishments of contemporary logic, linguistics, philosophy, contemporary theory of communication, computer science and cognitive science, as well as propagation of education in this field.

As far as the scientific targets are concerned, they will focus on the area of mutual influences of the above-mentioned research domains. The research disposition, underlining the communicative aspects of the language, that is the role of information flow and actions induced by it, will determine the profile of the conducted scientific research. The research will concentrate, especially, on linguistic, computation-information and logical-mathematical components of the process of transfer and exchange of information and also on the structure of actions accompanying this process.

The overall, above-outlined aims of the Group’s activity point to a series of detailed, specific goals lying in the area of interest to the whole GLLI community, as well as to its individual members. The following must be listed:

Educational aims such as:

  • bringing closer different methods of analysis and description of the natural language,

  • acquainting with attempts at formal-logical framing of its grammar,

  • acquainting with different research currents in the field of semantics and pragma-linguistics,

  • deepening the knowledge in the area of contemporary theory of communication, philosophy and logic of the natural language, philosophy of the mind, cognitive science, informatics, etc.

Scientific aims such as carrying out research in the scope of:

  • rational actions, verbal and non-verbal actions,

  • logical argumentation and persuasive argumentation, especially in the dialogue,

  • acquisition of knowledge, including language-related,

  • logical aspects of dynamics and structure of interactive processes,

  • logical foundations of incomplete information, imprecise information, rough information,

  • naturalization of language-based communication.

Representation connected with promoting of the worked-out ideas, theses or theories.

Below, we would like to present one of the scientific aims in a more extensive way. It concerns research connected with the linguistically-oriented action theory. There are elementary (atomic) action and compound actions distinguished in it. The latter are compound complexes of the former. In the simplest description, founded on set theory, a compound action is a set of finite sequences of atomic actions. From the formal-linguistic standpoint, a compound action is a language over the alphabet formed by the atomic actions. Such an approach allows tying the theory of action to the theory of automata, algorithms and formal languages. The key questions concern various aspects of the notion of performability of verbal and non-verbal actions (logical, physical, deontic performability and the like, compositionality of the notion of performability, the role of agents) and relations with the theory of situation. Another important aspect is an examination of the justifiability of founding the theory of actions on the set theory or the theory of situation.

Another aim, on the philosophical plane – is a reflexion on the pragmatic notion of the truth and relations with the semantic theory of the truth. This question requires a detailed study. Breaking with the classical theory of the truth does not seem possible in the pragmatic framework. On the other hand, it is easy to caricaturize the pragmatic theory of the truth through accepting the view that any idea with practical utility is true. (It is absurd, for instance, to replace the classical theory of the truth by a criterion of accordance with the opinion presented by an influential daily newspaper, TV station, or some president of an multinational company). On the level of scientific reflexion the difference reveals when the thing concerns, for example, selecting one of the competing theories or hypotheses. It is justified there that the given theory (hypothesis) is better than another one in some way and a relevant choice is made. Such decisions are, by all means, supported with the view that all human knowledge is partial, with no ability to take a “God’s-eye view”.

Detailed tasks of the Group

The above-outlined aims determine acceptance of natural and (we do hope) effective forms of the activity of the Group as a whole. Let us enumerate the following ones:

  1. interdisciplinary lectures delivered by outstanding scholars representing a variety of scientific centres in Poland and abroad,

  2. joint seminars bringing closer and explaining the key questions belonging to individual research areas dealt with by the Group,

  3. discussions aimed at acquisition of interdisciplinary knowledge and establishment of mutual research areas, as well as stimulation of the research activity,

  4. presentation of own research work and exchange of thoughts by members of the Group, in compliance with the specific character of the Group,

  5. publications-reports, via the Internet, on the delivered lectures and on research work conducted by members of the Group,

  6. scientific exchange carried out with domestic and foreign academic centres,

  7. Organization of conferences of domestic and international range (e.g. in May 2010, for the 15th time, there will be held the conference entitled Applications of logic in philosophy and foundations of mathematics, where members of the Group will be taking part in an active way).

The further perspective includes the Internet-based presentation of a dictionary of terms agreed upon by the members of seminars organized by the Group.