Harman on Inference and Implication

Just a quick one to start with. When I was a graduate student at Princeton, Gil Harman was (in)famous for insisting on the distinction between inference (a process studied in its descriptive aspects by psychologists, and in its normative aspects by epistemologists) and implication (a relation between propositions studied by logicians, often under the name of ‘consequence’). This is a distinction that he is entirely correct to insist on. But Gil’s notoriety rested on the fact that, in addition to insisting on the distinction, he would  also loudly and frequently mention the existence of this distinction to visiting speakers, graduate students, and anyone else for that matter who he noticed failing to observe the distinction.

This was brought vividly back to me by this recent review by Gil. He discusses a number of papers from a recent edited collection, under a few headings: ‘Some Papers Offering Particular Semantic Analyses’, ‘Some Methodological Analyses’, etc., and terminating in those papers whose unifying theme, in Gil’s view, is ‘Conflating Issues about Implication with Issues about Inference’. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t have much nice to say about the papers included under this heading…


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