Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beall Against Pinocchio

It's a fun paradox, and Peter Eldridge-Smith argues (convincingly, by my lights) that it creates problems for the claim that 'semantic' contradictions can be true, but not 'metaphysically' substantive ones. JC Beall's half of the exchange is available for free here.

(Eldridge Smith's half is available for free too, but if you're reading this on a computer at an institution with an online subscription to Analysis.)

One problem I have with Beall's response is that it's far from clear what sort of "impossibility" he has the resources to assign to base-language contradictions. It's one thing to say that the actual world lacks them--it certainly seems to!--but Beall, of course, can hardly claim that non-trivial worlds containing base-language contradictions are *logically* impossible. As he himself convincingly argues in Spandrels of Truth, dialetheists can hardly go around claiming that some falsehoods are 'more false' than others, such that contradictions involving them really would be explosive, since one could always construct a paradoxical 'spandrel' which attributed precisely this sort of extra-special-super-falseness to itself. If the claim is that they're metaphysically-but-not-logically impossible, I think that requires considerable fleshing out. *Why* would they be metaphysically impossible?

Someone with orthodox views would say that they're metaphysically impossible *because* they're logically impossible. Once we've blocked off that route by accepting (even "purely semantic") true contradictions, an alternative explanation is required.

Monday, August 29, 2011