Dialetheism and the Problem of the Missing Difference

SATS 19 (2):89-110 (2018)
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Abstract

During the past few decades, Graham Priest has advocated for Dialetheism, the controversial position that some contradictions are true. Dialetheism entails that the Law of Non-Contradiction fails. In recent decades the philosophical community has begun to recognize the significant challenge posed by Priest’s arguments. Priest has primarily appealed to paradoxes of self-reference, such as the Liar Paradox, to support his position. Following Priest’s approach, I offer another argument for Dialetheism, which appeals to a self-referential paradox that has been more or less ignored in the philosophical literature on the subject: the paradox of the missing difference. When we reflect on the question ‘what is a concept?’ from the perspective of a classical model of conceptual analysis, we arrive at the paradox of the missing difference. Although contradictions may be improbable, when we reflect on the question ‘how is the domain of concepts possible?’ we are led to a startling principle: without dialetheia any theory concerning concept formation would be impossible. Dialetheism is a necessary condition for the existence of a domain of concepts in general. As a result, Dialetheism may even be more central to philosophical reflection than even dialetheists themselves have recognized.

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Gregory S. Moss
Chinese University of Hong Kong

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