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Logical consequence (also entailment) is a fundamental concept in logic, which describes the relationship between statements that holds true when one statement logically follows from one or more statements. A valid logical argument is one in which the conclusions are entailed by the premises, because the conclusions are consequences of the premises. The philosophical analysis of logical consequence involves the questions: In what sense does a conclusion follow from its premises? and What does it mean for a conclusion to be a consequence of premises?[1] All of philosophical logic is meant to provide accounts of the nature of logical consequence and the nature of logical truth.[2]

Logical consequence is necessary and formal, by way of examples that explain with formal proof and models of interpretation.[1] A sentence is said to be a logical consequence of a set of sentences, for a given language, if and only if, using only logic (i.e. without regard to any interpretations of the sentences) the sentence must be true if every sentence in the set is true.[3]

Logicians make precise accounts of logical consequence regarding a given language , either by constructing a deductive system for or by formal intended semantics for language . The Polish logician Alfred Tarski identified three features of an adequate characterization of entailment: (1) The logical consequence relation relies on the logical form of the sentences, (2) The relation is a priori, i.e. it can be determined whether or not it holds without regard to empirical evidence (sense experience), and (3) The logical consequence relation has a modal component.[3]


Formal accountsEdit

The most widely prevailing view on how to best account for logical consequence is to appeal to formality. This is to say that whether statements follow from one another logically depends on the structure or logical form of the statements without regard to the contents of that form.

Syntactic accounts of logical consequence rely on schemes using inference rules. For instance, we can express the logical form of a valid argument as:

All   are  . 
All   are  . 
Therefore, all   are  .

This argument is formally valid, because every instance of arguments constructed using this scheme are valid.

This is in contrast to an argument like "Fred is Mike's brother's son. Therefore Fred is Mike's nephew." Since this argument depends on the meanings of the words "brother", "son", and "nephew", the statement "Fred is Mike's nephew" is a so-called material consequence of "Fred is Mike's brother's son," not a formal consequence. A formal consequence must be true in all cases, however this is an incomplete definition of formal consequence, since even the argument "  is  's brother's son, therefore   is  's nephew" is valid in all cases, but is not a formal argument.[1]

A priori property of logical consequenceEdit

If you know that   follows logically from   no information about the possible interpretations of   or   will affect that knowledge. Our knowledge that   is a logical consequence of   cannot be influenced by empirical knowledge.[1] Deductively valid arguments can be known to be so without recourse to experience, so they must be knowable a priori.[1] However, formality alone does not guarantee that logical consequence is not influenced by empirical knowledge. So the a priori property of logical consequence is considered to be independent of formality.[1]

Proofs and modelsEdit

The two prevailing techniques for providing accounts of logical consequence involve expressing the concept in terms of proofs and via models. The study of the syntactic consequence (of a logic) is called (its) proof theory whereas the study of (its) semantic consequence is called (its) model theory.[4]

Syntactic consequenceEdit

A formula   is a syntactic consequence[5][6][7][8] within some formal system   of a set   of formulas if there is a formal proof in   of   from the set  .


Syntactic consequence does not depend on any interpretation of the formal system.[9]

Semantic consequenceEdit

A formula   is a semantic consequence within some formal system   of a set of statements  


if and only if there is no model   in which all members of   are true and   is false.[10] Or, in other words, the set of the interpretations that make all members of   true is a subset of the set of the interpretations that make   true.

Modal accountsEdit

Modal accounts of logical consequence are variations on the following basic idea:

      is true if and only if it is necessary that if all of the elements of   are true, then   is true.

Alternatively (and, most would say, equivalently):

      is true if and only if it is impossible for all of the elements of   to be true and   false.

Such accounts are called "modal" because they appeal to the modal notions of logical necessity and logical possibility. 'It is necessary that' is often expressed as a universal quantifier over possible worlds, so that the accounts above translate as:

      is true if and only if there is no possible world at which all of the elements of   are true and   is false (untrue).

Consider the modal account in terms of the argument given as an example above:

All frogs are green.
Kermit is a frog.
Therefore, Kermit is green.

The conclusion is a logical consequence of the premises because we can't imagine a possible world where (a) all frogs are green; (b) Kermit is a frog; and (c) Kermit is not green.

Modal-formal accountsEdit

Modal-formal accounts of logical consequence combine the modal and formal accounts above, yielding variations on the following basic idea:

      if and only if it is impossible for an argument with the same logical form as  /  to have true premises and a false conclusion.

Warrant-based accountsEdit

The accounts considered above are all "truth-preservational," in that they all assume that the characteristic feature of a good inference is that it never allows one to move from true premises to an untrue conclusion. As an alternative, some have proposed "warrant-preservational" accounts, according to which the characteristic feature of a good inference is that it never allows one to move from justifiably assertible premises to a conclusion that is not justifiably assertible. This is (roughly) the account favored by intuitionists such as Michael Dummett.

Non-monotonic logical consequenceEdit

The accounts discussed above all yield monotonic consequence relations, i.e. ones such that if   is a consequence of  , then   is a consequence of any superset of  . It is also possible to specify non-monotonic consequence relations to capture the idea that, e.g., 'Tweety can fly' is a logical consequence of

{Birds can typically fly, Tweety is a bird}

but not of

{Birds can typically fly, Tweety is a bird, Tweety is a penguin}.

For more on this, see Belief revision#Non-monotonic inference relation.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Beall, JC and Restall, Greg, Logical Consequence The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
  2. ^ Quine, Willard Van Orman, Philosophy of Logic.
  3. ^ a b McKeon, Matthew, Logical Consequence Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  4. ^ Kosta Dosen (1996). "Logical consequence: a turn in style". In Maria Luisa Dalla Chiara; Kees Doets; Daniele Mundici; Johan van Benthem. Logic and Scientific Methods: Volume One of the Tenth International Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, Florence, August 1995. Springer. p. 292. ISBN 978-0-7923-4383-7. 
  5. ^ Dummett, Michael (1993) Frege: philosophy of language Harvard University Press, p.82ff
  6. ^ Lear, Jonathan (1986) Aristotle and Logical Theory Cambridge University Press, 136p.
  7. ^ Creath, Richard, and Friedman, Michael (2007) The Cambridge companion to Carnap Cambridge University Press, 371p.
  8. ^ FOLDOC: "syntactic consequence"
  9. ^ Hunter, Geoffrey, Metalogic: An Introduction to the Metatheory of Standard First-Order Logic, University of California Pres, 1971, p. 75.
  10. ^ Etchemendy, John, Logical consequence, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy


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  • Davis, Martin, (editor) (1965), The Undecidable, Basic Papers on Undecidable Propositions, Unsolvable Problems And Computable Functions, New York: Raven Press . Papers include those by Gödel, Church, Rosser, Kleene, and Post.
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  • Hendricks, Vincent F. (2005), Thought 2 Talk: A Crash Course in Reflection and Expression, New York: Automatic Press / VIP, ISBN 87-991013-7-8 
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  • A paper on 'implication' from, Implication
  • A definition of 'implicant' AllWords
  • Ryszard Wójcicki (1988). Theory of Logical Calculi: Basic Theory of Consequence Operations. Springer. ISBN 978-90-277-2785-5. 

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