How to think about informal proofs

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Synthese, ISSN: 0039-7857, Vol: 187, Issue: 2, Page: 715-730

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Larvor, Brendan
Springer Nature
Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences
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It is argued in this study that (i) progress in the philosophy of mathematical practice requires a general positive account of informal proof; (ii) the best candidate is to think of informal proofs as arguments that depend on their matter as well as their logical form; (iii) articulating the dependency of informal inferences on their content requires a redefinition of logic as the general study of inferential actions; (iv) it is a decisive advantage of this conception of logic that it accommodates the many mathematical proofs that include actions on objects other than propositions; (v) this conception of logic permits the articulation of project-sized tasks for the philosophy of mathematical practice, thereby supplying a partial characterisation of normal research in the field. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.