In Defense of the Law of Noncontradiction


Edward N. Zalta


In The Law of Noncontradiction: New Philosophical Essays, G. Priest, J.C. Beall, and B. Armour-Garb, (eds.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 418-436.


The arguments of the dialetheists for the rejection of the traditional law of noncontradiction are not yet conclusive. The reason is that the arguments that they have developed against this law uniformly fail to consider the logic of encoding as an analytic method that can resolve apparent contradictions. In this paper, we use Priest [1995] and [1987] as sample texts to illustrate this claim. In [1995], Priest examines certain crucial problems in the history of philosophy from the point of view of someone without a prejudice in favor of classical logic. For each of these problems, the logic of encoding offers an alternative explanation of the phenomena---this alternative is not considered when Priest describes what options there are in classical logic for analyzing the problem at hand.

The argument at heart of the case that Priest develops against the law of noncontradiction (i.e., the argument based on the paradoxes of self-reference) is then reanalyzed in light of encoding logic. After showing why the argument is inconclusive, the paper concludes both with a more general discussion of logic and predication and with the suggestion that there is no need to tamper with the logic of the traditional mode of predication if there is alternative mode of predication which is well-suited to the analysis of cases involving contradictory objects.

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