Volume 25, 2008
Philosophy of Mathematics
The Compulsion to Believe
Logical Inference and Normativity
The interaction between intuitions about inference, and the normative constraints that logical principles applied to mechanically-recognizable derivations impose on (informal) inference, is explored. These intuitions are evaluated in a clear testcase: informal mathematical proof. It is argued that formal derivations are not the source of our intuitions of validity, and indeed, neither is the semantic recognition of validity, either as construed model-theoretically, or as driven by the subject-matter such inferences are directed towards. Rather, psychologically-engrained inference-packages (often opportunistically used by mathematicians) are the source of our sense of validity. Formal derivations, or the semantic construal of such, are after-the-fact norms imposed on our inference practices.