Date published:

Prof. Andrzej Wiśniewski, Faculty of Psychology and Cognitive Science - Inferential logic of questions

In 2019, Prof. Andrzej Wiśniewski from the Faculty of Psychology and Cognitive Science received Poland’s most important scientific distinction: the FN P Prize. The prize has been awarded for the 28th time by the Foundation for Polish Science and is considered the Polish equivalent to the Nobel Prize.

Prof. Andrzej Wiśniewski was awarded in the field of humanities and social sciences for insight on the inferential logic of questions. His findings can be applied to improve machine learning, artificial intelligence, Internet search engines and database analysis.

The concept of Inferential Erotetic Logic (IEL) dates back to the 1980s. Professor Wiśniewski published his insights in the 1990s.

Prof. Andrzej Wiśniewski: The logic of questions is sometimes called erotetic logic, from the Greek word “erotema” – “question”. Inferential, i.e. concerning inferences. Hence, what we mean is the logic of questions that deals with inferences. What kind of inferences? First, inferences where the premises are declarative sentences that lead to questions. Second, inferences where the premise is a question and a declarative sentence that leads to another question. Third, inferences where the premise both is a question and leads to a question.

According to Prof. Wiśniewski, the applications of his research can be quite surprising.

Prof. Andrzej Wiśniewski: For example, the author of the theory of erotetic film narration admits that he was inspired by my ideas. I also discovered that my research was cited in an article on the basics of quantum mechanics – although whether it made sense to do so is an entirely different matter. Yet another example: somebody successfully used the inferential logic of questions to analyse the deliberations of Saint Thomas. Although applications of inferential erotetic logic are to be expected in the methodology and philosophy of science, we also see it in linguistics and computer science. In Poznań, our research group focuses on IEL applications in problem-solving, proof theory, dialogue studies and argumentation studies.