Relevance for the Classical Logician


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Although much technical and philosophical attention has been given to relevance logics, the notion of relevance itself is generally left at an intuitive level. It is difficult to find in the literature an explicit account of relevance in formal reasoning. In this article I offer a formal explication of the notion of relevance in deductive logic and argue that this notion has an interesting place in the study of classical logic. The main idea is that a premise is relevant to an argument when it contributes to the validity of that argument. I then argue that the sequents which best embody this ideal of relevance are the so-called perfect sequents - that is, sequents which are valid but have no proper subsequents that are valid. Church's theorem entails that there is no recursively axiomatizable proof-system that proves all and only the perfect sequents, so the project that emerges from studying perfection in classical logic is not one of finding a perfect subsystem of classical logic, but is rather a comparative study of classifying subsystems of classical logic according to how well they approximate the ideal of perfection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-457
Number of pages22
JournalReview of Symbolic Logic
Issue number2
Early online date6 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Classical logic
  • Perfect sequents
  • Relevance


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