[FOM] Why inclusive disjunction?
mate at ludens.elte.hu
Wed Jan 10 16:02:57 EST 2007
Two alternative answers:
1. The principle of minimal information (and minimal risk):
In the case of ambiguity, you should choose the minimal interpretation.
(Reason: this strategy doesn't provide false information for the
intrerpreter about what the speaker meant.) With exclusive and inclusive
disjunction, the issue is rather simple: inclusive disjunction provides
you less information, therefore "A or (inclusively) B" is what the
speaker surely meant by saying 'A or B'. It is uncertain in most
contexts whether he/she meant also "not (A and B)".
2. It is questionable whether everyday language uses 'or' in exclusive
sense at all. Let us construe the problem precisely: you say 'A or B'
and I know FROM THE INFORMATION YOU GAVE ME ON THIS WAY that A and B are
not both true. Does it happen? In the most examples for "exclusive
disjunction" I know FROM ANOTHER SOURCE that A and B are not both true.
(For a more detailed argumentation see Benson Mates, "Identity and
Predication in Plato".) It is true, however, that the language of
statutes is not everyday language.
> I am preparing to teach a course in `proof'.
> Can anyone provide a principled reason for why logicians choose to
> interpret "or" as inclusive disjunction?
> I understand that in the interpretations of statutes, the exclusive or
> is the default. So attorney's have made a different choice of
> John T. Baldwin
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