Assertion, Denial and Non-Classical Theories

July 2013

“Assertion, Denial and Non-Classical Theories,” pp. 81–99 in Paraconsistency: Logic and Applications, edited by Koji Tanaka, Francesco Berto, Edwin Mares and Francesco Paoli, 2013.

In this paper I urge friends of truth-value gaps and truth-value gluts – proponents of paracomplete and paraconsistent logics – to consider theories not merely as sets of sentences, but as pairs of sets of sentences, or what I call ‘bitheories,’ which keep track not only of what holds according to the theory, but also what fails to hold according to the theory. I explain the connection between bitheories, sequents, and the speech acts of assertion and denial. I illustrate the usefulness of bitheories by showing how they make available a technique for characterising different theories while abstracting away from logical vocabulary such as connectives or quantifiers, thereby making theoretical commitments independent of the choice of this or that particular non-classical logic.

Examples discussed include theories of numbers, classes and truth. In the latter two cases, the bitheoretical perspective brings to light some heretofore unconsidered puzzles for friends of naïve theories of classes and truth.


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I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. I am the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. I like thinking about – and helping other people think about – logic and philosophy and the many different ways they can inform each other.

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