Department of Logic and the Methodology of Sciences

On Logic and the Methodology of Sciences

Logic is one of the oldest disciplines in the humanities. It is a non-empirical (analytic) science that systematically studies the relation of entailment and deductive reasoning. Its research is concerned with the methods of creation of logical systems, their properties and various means of proving them (proof theory). On this basis, logic seeks to ascertain whether the various forms of reasoning and argumentation in natural language are valid. Beyond this, logic also focuses on the various forms of non-deductive reasoning, like probabilistic or abductive inference.

Logic is sometimes incorrectly characterized as the “science of (correct) thought”. However, the process of thought is not the subject of logic, but of psychology or cognitive science. Logic abstracts from individual thought-processes and focuses on the relations of statements based on their logical structure. Studies in logic therefore usually rely on a rich symbolic apparatus which enables to display these relations unequivocally and in a transparent way.

Logic comprises several specialized fields which apply the instruments of logical inquiry to particular problems – for example, mathematical or philosophical logic. A closely related discipline is logical semantics, which uses the instruments of logic to study the relations between the expressions of language (natural or artificial) and the meaning of these expressions, ie., what these expressions are “about”.

Some of the historically important logicians were Aristotle, Chrysippus, Bernard Bolzano, George Boole, Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Kurt Gödel, Alan Turing and Alonzo Church. In the Czech and Slovak Republics, logic – with a focus on the analysis of natural language – was pioneered by Vojtech Filkorn, Karel Berka, Pavel Tichý and Pavel Cmorej.

Methodology of the sciences is one of the so-called meta-sciences – disciplines which study science itself. Methodology is concerned with the study of scientific methods, ie., the various procedures used in science in obtaining, testing and systematizing knowledge. A closely related discipline is the philosphy of science – an area in philosophy which studies the most fundamental problems of scientific knowledge: issues in the construction, testing and justification of theories, the design of scientific models, the structure of scientific explanation or the nature of progress in science. In its inquiries, methodology and philosophy of science rely on the instruments of logic, but also on the results of other meta-scientific disciplines (like the history or sociology of science).

Some of the most important philosophers of science are Rudolf Carnap and other members of the Vienna Circle, Karl R. Popper, Carl G. Hempel, Thomas S. Kuhn, Mary Hesse and Nancy Cartwright. Many other philosophers of note were among the pioneers of philosophy of science, including Aristotle, René Descartes and Francis Bacon. In Slovakia, modern philosophy of science was founded by Igor Hrušovský and Vojtech Filkorn. Later, important contributions to its development were made by Václav Černík, Jozef Viceník and Augustín Riška.

About the Department

The Department of Logic and the Methodology of Sciences was established on September the 1st, 1962. Currently, it employs two full professors, two associate professors, one assistant professor, two post-doctoral research (under an grant by the Slovak Research and Development Agency) and one doctoral student. Prof. František Gahér focuses on research in extensional and intensional logics, logical semantics, natural language analysis, the history of logic and applications of logic in jurisprudence. Prof. Marián Zouhar concentrates primarily on the philosophy of language, the semantics and pragmatics of natural language, philosophical logic and the history of analytic philosophy. Doc. Vladimír Marko's research concerns the interpretation of ancient logical and semantical theories, the philosophy of time, causality and the philosophy of history. Doc. Lukáš Bielik specializes in the philosophy of science, non-deductive reasoning and scientific explanation. Dr. Juraj Halas focuses on theory construction in social science (primarily in classical economics and sociology) and problems of the so-called critical theories in social science. Dr. Daniela Vacek and Dr. Filip Tvrdý focus on conditionals in the framework of our current SRDA grant. Mgr. Dalibor Makovník's dissertation topic is non-causal explanation.

Members of the Department teach required courses in logic and the methodology of the sciences which are part of the various programs offered by the Faculty of Arts (philosophy, sociology, journalism, Central European studies and others). The Department also offers elective courses, primarily aimed at students in philosophy interested in analytic philosophy, logical semantics and the methodology of the natural and the social sciences.