University of Miami
“Semantic Dialetheism & Philosophical Methodology”
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
University Center, Room 245
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Dialetheism is the position in the philosophy of logic according to which there are true statements of the form (P & ~P). Graham Priest has argued for it on the basis of the Liar and related semantic paradoxes, the antinomies (and intuitive appeal) of naïve set theory, the paradoxes of motion and change, and so on. Priest often argues that all consistent solutions to these problems necessarily purchase consistency at the expense of expressive power. This view, according to which any complete and accurate description of reality must involves contradictions, has been called "metaphysical dialetheism." By contrast, Edwin Mares has argued for "semantic dialetheism," the view that, even if there's nothing about extra-linguistic reality such that a complete and accurate description of it must be inconsistent, it is a contingent fact about natural languages that some predicates are "overdefined," meaning that the conditions for a a predicate mapping onto some bit of reality and the conditions for its negation mapping onto it can sometimes overlap. This view is a natural extension of the claim made by figures like Scott Soames and Jamie Tappenden that some predicates are "partially defined," and in many ways it may seem less counter-intuitive than metaphysical dialetheism. However, given the consequences of this view for the normal process of philosophical argumentation, we will see that there are principled reasons to reject it than don't beg the question against the semantic dialetheism by assuming the very principles in dispute.