Revenge: dialetheism and its expressive limitations

Young, Gareth (2015) Revenge: dialetheism and its expressive limitations. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis is about dialetheism and the problem of revenge. More broadly, it is about truth and what the logical paradoxes tell us about the logical behaviour of truth. One of the driving forces behind the contemporary study of truth and paradox is the problem of revenge: that many, perhaps all, available theories of truth, give rise to further paradoxes, invoking central notions of those theories, which demonstrate that the theory cannot express those notions. This sort of expressive limitation, especially if it involves the very notion invoked to diagnose what goes wrong in paradoxical sentences, would normally be thought a decisive point against a given theory of the paradoxes, were it not for the fact that the problem is so pervasive that every currently available theory has, at some point, been argued to suffer from it.
Dialetheism, the view that some contradictions are true, has often been thought to be the only view which has a reasonable chance of avoiding the problem. Indeed, the surge of interest in the view since the first publication of Priest’s In Contradiction, in 1987, defending dialetheism, is probably due in large part to the seeming immunity to the revenge problem that Priest’s view possesses. Its virtue, in respect of revenge, is that its ability to accept, without collapse into incoherence, contradictions, allows it to accept any further revenge paradoxes as merely giving more sound arguments for dialetheia (true contradictions).
This thesis argues that this appearance of revenge-immunity is mistaken. Dialetheism, too, has its revenge problems. The seeming virtue of dialetheism, that it can accept the contradictions generated by revenge paradoxes without incoherence, also has its drawbacks. This is because dialetheists are not only able, but compelled to accept the contradictions arising from the semantic paradoxes. This means that contradictions can arise in certain areas where they are undesirable. In particular, there are notions which seem to require consistency in order to be expressible. If we can demonstrate, using revenge paradoxes, that, on dialetheism, predicates putatively representing these notions would have to behave inconsistently, then we can demonstrate that dialetheists cannot express the notions.

There are many ways one might wish to carve up the different varieties of dialetheism available. I have separated the view into two broad kinds: metatheoretically paraconsistent dialetheism, on the one hand, and metatheoretically consistent dialetheism, on the other. This distinction decides to which variety of revenge problem the version of dialetheism in question is subject. I take each in turn, and argue that they are each subject to expressive limitations brought about by revenge paradox.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: logic, semantics, truth, paradox, liar, revenge, dialetheism
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Supervisor's Name: Weir, Professor Alan and Rieger, Doctor Adam
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Gareth Young
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6415
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2015 13:40
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2015 12:22
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6415

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