The Italian philosopher
Carlo Dalla Pozza (16-10-1942, 18-07-2014) was born in Taranto, in the Southern
region Apulia, from Luigi Dalla Pozza, an officer of the Italian Navy from the
region Veneto, and Cecilia Pontrelli from Apulia. During high school studies at
the Liceo Scientifico Battaglini of Taranto, Giovanni De Tommaso, a tough
old-style teacher of mathematics, gave him the taste for mathematical problems
and for the elegance of proofs. Carlo studied literature and philology at the
University of Bari, where he graduated with a thesis on Renato Serra under the
supervision of Aldo Vallone. Throughout his life Carlo manifested his love for
Italian literature, in particular for the 19th century poets Giacomo Leopardi,
Giosuè Carducci (teacher of Serra) and Gabriele d'Annunzio. Among Italian
classics he preferred Dante and Torquato Tasso. His post-graduate studies were
in Linguistic Theory with Ferruccio Rossi Landi in Lecce and then at the
Universitiy of Pisa, and in Logic and Formal Systems at the Catholic University
of Milan.
Carlo Dalla Pozza worked for many years as a High School teacher in the province of Taranto, while he was scientifically very active, attending conferences and giving lectures in various occasions. Only around 1990 he obtained a permanent position at the University of Salento, Lecce, first as "tecnico laureato" and then as "ricercatore". A petition signed by Italian and foreign scholars asking that he should be promoted Associate Professor came too late in view of compulsory retirement policies in European academia.
Even as a high-school teacher Dalla Pozza had an intense research and teaching activity in Italian Universities. He taught master level courses in Logico-Mathematical Methods for Linguistics and Logic and Philosophy of Science from 1992 to 1995 and then also Philosophy and Theory of Languages from 2002 to 2011 at the University of Salento and continued to teach as "professore a contratto" after retirement until 2013. In 1996 after the death of Carlo's partner Cristina Galasso, Ruggero Ferro invited him at the University of Verona, where he taught Logic and Foundations of Computer Science for students of the humanities until 2002. Dalla Pozza had also several graduate students pursuing graduate studies or working towards a PhD in Italy and abroad.
Carlo Dalla Pozza had broad
philosophical interests. A main influence on his philosophy of logic and
languages were the works by Rudolf Carnap, with whom he shared the approach the
logical analysis of language but also to probability theory. A main
philosophical commitment of Dalla Pozza was to Alfred Tarski's theory of truth:
for Dalla Pozza Tarski's analysis vindicates classical bivalence as a basic
principle of logic and of the theory of meaning, if not directly an ontological
principle. But Dalla Pozza's background in linguistics and in the works by John
L. Austin (
Looking for an "intended interpretation" of Dalla Pozza's logical system, we may say that its language is about types of correct linguistic utterances, endowed with an illocutionary force, and having a propositional content. In the picture of possible worlds or situation semantics, propositions classify situations and true propositions are facts; moreover the recognition of the truth of a proposition comes with factual evidence that provides precisely its justification. But what about utterances of expressions "A implies B" having the mood of an assertion? What is their propositional content? Given the Brouwer-Heyting-Kolmogotov interpretation, "A implies B" is a type of justification functions transforming evidence for A into evidence for B. But for Dalla Pozza such a type cannot be a proposition, since it does not have a truth value in the classical sense: only its "semantic projection" in classical S4 is a proposition and does have a truth value in a possible world semantics. But standard Kripke semantics for intuitionistic logic is not an adequate representation of intuitionism from an inuitionistic standpoint.
Lively philosophical discussions in particular at the University of Padua with the philosopher Enrico Martino led to question whether the representation of intuitionistic logic with Dalla Pozza and Garola's Logic for Pragmatics was acceptable from the principles of intuitionistic philosophy. The usage of a classical meta-theory, instead of an intuitionistic one, was justified as an instance of Occam's razor, but it can also be regarded as evidence of Dalla Pozza's commitment to the fundamental status of classical logic. Recent work shows that Dalla Pozza and Garola's framework can be easily given an intuitionistic interpretation once the Occam's razor policy is abandoned.
Dalla Pozza extended his
Logic for Pragmatics programme with
consideration of deontic logic and the logic of laws in the paper
A new development of the
work on deontic logic was developed in Dalla Pozza and Bellin
Dalla Pozza's system of
Logic for Pragmatics has also been extended to a logic of the justifications of assertions and
hypotheses. Assuming a common sense duality between "asserting a
proposition P" and "making the hypothesis that P may be false"
(doubting about P), a pragmatic interpretation is given of a system of bi-intuitionistic logic, whose mathematical
and computational properties have been studied (see G.Bellin, M.Carrara,
D.Chiffi and A.Menti.
A major competitor of Dalla Pozza's Logic for Pragmatics is Sergei Artemov's "Justification Logic", also presented in the 1990s and developed extensively since then. Carlo Dalla Pozza never attempted a comparison, leaving the task now to his friends and students.
Dalla Pozza was never
interested in logical systems as mere mathematical structures, but rather as
formalisms with an "intended interpretation", representing forms of
reasoning occurring in science or in natural language, In fact his works always
addressed major issues in the philosophy of science. With Giovanni Sambin he
had lively public discussions on naturalistic interpretations of mathematics.
His life long cooperation with the physicist Claudio Garola had in view the
foundational problems of quantum mechanics, in the hope that the basic scheme
of the logic for pragmatics could also be applied to reconcile conflicting
viewpoints in the foundations of physics (see the early paper
Similarly, his work on
formal deontics and the logic of laws is a life-long interest from the
participation to the "incontri di San Giuseppe" organised by Norberto
Bobbio who introduced the analytic tradition of philosophy of laws on Italy, to
the cooperation with Luigi Ferrajoli and his formal development of an axiomatic
theory of constitutional democracy in his monumental book
Like other intellectual of his generation Carlo Dalla Pozza faced the problem of bringing scientific and analytic rationalism in an Italian culture deeply influenced by historicism in the great tradition of idealism of Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gentile. Carlo took the task seriously by embracing a critically aware version of scientific rationalism. But he was still able to interpret philosophical choices as life choices rather than mere intellectual games.
His great warmth and contagious enthusiasm for life left a deep impression in all the people who encountered him and who eventually did not mind to have been slightly burnt by his flame. For Carlo did respect the freedom and the feelings of others, bringing in personal relations the same analytic attention he displayed in his philosophical work. Interestingly enough, an English speaker with intermediate knowledge of Italian confessed never having had any linguistic problem in conversation with Carlo, because of his capacity of attention and clarity of thinking.
A professional wrestler in his youth, Carlo Dalla Pozza practiced physical exercise throughout his life. In 2011 he refused extensive chemical and radiological therapies and only allowed two open brain surgeries without total anaesthesia, for the sake of retaining as much as possible his intellectual powers. In this way he was able to continue working until the last months of his life. He is survived by his partner Vera Vaglio Massa and lives in the memory of his friends.
(Gianluigi Bellin) |

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