4.8 Negation introduction

This one is nice and interesting:

m & \fh A & H \\
n & \fa B \\
& \neg A & I$\neg$\ m,n,p
\end{fitch*} \end{displaymath}

If after supposing $A$, you achieved the conclusion that both $B$ and $\neg B$ are true, you're not lost, since you just discovered another truth: that it's not possible for $A$ to be true, that's it, $\neg A$ it's true.

For instance, I confess that if I use Windows, I don't profit the time I am with my computer. Since some years, I do profit it, so the conclusion is that I don't use Windows. To achieve that conclusion, the path that you would follow (maybe without thinking) is precisely the one that this rule needs: suppose that I do use Windows, in that case I wouldn't profit my computer. But I said that I do profit it, so that supposition must be wrong.

This procedure is called reduction to the absurd (reductio ad absurdum): suppose something to achieve a contradiction and be able to assert that what we supposed is false. It's specially useful if you start supposing the contrary of what you want to prove: if any contradiction can be discovered, then it's almost all done.

I should note that this is an abuse of notation: following all the laws of logic, it happens that each subdemonstration needs one conclusion (not two); and at the above hypothesis, it's not clear which one is the conclusion ($B$ or $\neg B$?). The correct way to write it would be using conjunction introduction to say that $B\wedge\neg B$, and this one is the conclusion which shows the wrongness of the initial hypothesis. But my teachers didn't write that line.

Daniel Clemente Laboreo 2005-05-17