Multi-valued logics are 'logical calculi' in which there are more than two truth values. Traditionally, in Aristotle's logical calculus, there were only two possible values (i.e., "true" and "false") for any proposition. An obvious extension to classical two-valued logic is an n-valued logic for n > 2. Those most popular in the literature are three-valued (e.g., Łukasiewicz's and Kleene's),—which accept the values "true", "false", and "unknown",—the finite-valued with more than 3 values, and the infinite-valued (e.g. fuzzy logic) logics.
Relation to classical logic
Logics are usually systems intended to codify rules for preserving some semantic property of propositions across transformations. In classical logic, this property is "truth." In a valid argument, the truth of the derived proposition is guaranteed if the premises are jointly true, because the application of valid steps preserves the property. However, that property doesn't have to be that of "truth"; instead, it can be some other concept.
Multi-valued logics are intended to preserve the property of designationhood (or being designated). Since there are more than two truth values, rules of inference may be intended to preserve more than just whichever corresponds (in the relevant sense) to truth. For example, in a three-valued logic, sometimes the two greatest truth-values (when they are represented as e.g. positive integers) are designated and the rules of inference preserve these values. Precisely, a valid argument will be such that the value of the premises taken jointly will always be less than or equal to the conclusion.
For example, the preserved property could be justification, the foundational concept of intuitionistic logic. Thus, a proposition is not true or false; instead, it is justified or flawed. A key difference between justification and truth, in this case, is that the law of excluded middle doesn't hold: a proposition that is not flawed is not necessarily justified; instead, it's only not proven that it's flawed. The key difference is the determinacy of the preserved property: One may prove that P is justified, that P is flawed, or be unable to prove either. A valid argument preserves justification across transformations, so a proposition derived from justified propositions is still justified. However, there are proofs in classical logic that depend upon the law of excluded middle; since that law is not usable under this scheme, there are propositions that cannot be proven that way.
Relation to fuzzy logic
Multi-valued logic is strictly related with fuzzy set theory and fuzzy logic. The notion of fuzzy subset was introduced by Lotfi Zadeh as a formalization of vagueness; i.e., the phenomenon that a predicate may apply to an object not absolutely, but to a certain degree, and that there may be borderline cases. Indeed, as in multi-valued logic, fuzzy logic admits truth values different from "true" and "false". As an example, usually the set of possible truth values is the whole interval [0,1]. Nevertheless, the main difference between fuzzy logic and multi-valued logic is in the aims. In fact, in spite of its philosophical interest (it can be used to deal with the Sorites paradox), fuzzy logic is devoted mainly to the applications. More precisely, there are two approaches to fuzzy logic. The first one is very closely linked with multi-valued logic tradition (Hajek school). So a set of designed values is fixed and this enables us to define an entailment relation. The deduction apparatus is defined by a suitable set of logical axioms and suitable inference rules. Another approach (Goguen, Pavelka and others) is devoted to defining a deduction apparatus in which approximate reasonings are admitted. Such an apparatus is defined by a suitable fuzzy subset of logical axioms and by a suitable set of fuzzy inference rules. In the first case the logical consequence operator gives the set of logical consequence of a given set of axioms. In the latter the logical consequence operator gives the fuzzy subset of logical consequence of a given fuzzy subset of hypotheses.
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