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Are ordinary languages illogical?


The paper addresses the question of whether Strawsons claim that ordinary language has no exact logic entails a view according to which it is in ordinary languages nature to be illogical. It is first explained where the traditional idea of an exact, language-independent logic comes from, i.e. the idea of a logic which underlies ordinary languages and governs their logical use and which lack if Strawsons assumption is right would leave ordinary languages being illogical insofar as there would be nothing to eliminate their logical imperfections. Secondly, it is shown that it is inherent to language to human language in contrast to animal ones to be logical, because language games are typically introduced, explained, learned, and played out in a practice of giving and asking for reasons , which means, so to speak, in a logical space. Thus the fact that ordinary language has no exact logic in the sense that there is no one-to-one correspondence between its (grammatico-)syntactic and its (logico-)semantic sentence forms does not exclude the possibilities for it to be used in a logical manner.

Key words: Strawson, ordinary language, logicality, logical space of reasons.