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Paraconsistent Logic

Paraconsistent Logic

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Published by Philip Finlay-Bryan
Aristotelian logic has its limits. Tends to be linearand if this then this if not this then this. . Paraconsistency throws open a paradigm If this AND not this, that while seeming all inclusive is in fact an awesome tool. More on PersonalDomains dot net
Aristotelian logic has its limits. Tends to be linearand if this then this if not this then this. . Paraconsistency throws open a paradigm If this AND not this, that while seeming all inclusive is in fact an awesome tool. More on PersonalDomains dot net

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Published by: Philip Finlay-Bryan on Jan 12, 2013
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01/15/2013

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Paraconsistent Logic
 
 First published Tue Sep 24, 1996; substantive revision Fri Mar 20, 2009
 The contemporary logical orthodoxy has it that, from contradictory premises, anything can be inferred. To be more precise, let
bea relation of logical consequence, defined either semantically or  proof-theoretically. Call
 
explosive
if it validates{
 A
, ¬
 A
}
 
 B
for every
 A
 and
 B
(
ex contradictione quodlibet 
(ECQ)). Thecontemporary orthodoxy, i.e., classical logic, is explosive, but also
some ‘non
-
classical’ logics such as intuitionist logic and
 most other standard logics are explosive.The major motivation behind
 paraconsistent logic
is tochallenge this orthodoxy. A logical consequence relation,
, issaid to be
 paraconsistent 
if it is not explosive. Thus, if 
is paraconsistent, then even if we are in certaincircumstances where the available information is inconsistent, theinference relation does not explode into
triviality
. Thus, paraconsistent logic accommodates inconsistency in a sensible manner that treats inconsistent information as informative.There are several reasons driving such motivation. The development of the systems of paraconsistent logic has depended on these. The prefix
‘para’ in English has two meanings: ‘quasi’
 
(or ‘similar to, modelled on’) or 
 
‘beyond’. When the term ‘paraconsistent’ was
 coined by Miró Quesada at the Third Latin America Conference onMathematical Logic in 1976, he seems to have had the first meaning inmind. Many paraconsistent logicians,however, have taken it to mean the second, which provided differentreasons for the development of paraconsistent logic as we will see below.This article is not meant to be a complete survey of paraconsistentlogic. The modern history of paraconsistent logic maybe relativelyshort. Yet the development of the field has grown to the extent that acomplete survey is impossible. The aim of this article is to providesome aspects and features of the field that are philosophicallysalient. This does not mean that paraconsistent logic has nomathematical significance or significance in such areas as computer science and linguistics. Indeed, the development of paraconsistentlogic in the last two decades or so indicates that it has importantapplications in those areas. However, we shall tread over them lightlyand focus more on the aspects that are of interest for philosophersand philosophically trained logicians.
 
 
 
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o
 
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1. Paraconsistency
A logic is said to be
 paraconsistent 
iff its logicalconsequence relation is not explosive. Paraconsistency is thus a property of a consequence relation and of a logic. In the literature,especially in the part of it that contains objections to paraconsistent logic, there has been some confusion over thedefinition of paraconsistency. So before going any further, we makeone clarification.Paraconsistency, so defined, is to do with the inference relation{
 A
, ¬
 A
}
 
 B
for every
 A
 and
 B
(
ex contradictione quodlibet 
(ECQ)).Dialetheism, on the other hand, is the view that there are true contradictions. If dialetheism is to be taken as a view that does not entail everything,then a dialehtiest's preferred logic must better be paraconsistent. For dialetheism is the view that
 some
 contradiction is true and it does not amount to
trivialism
 which is the view that
everything 
, including everycontradiction, is true. Now, a paraconsistent logician may feel the force pulling them towardsdialetheism. Yet the view that aconsequence relation should be paraconsistent does not entail the viewthat there
are
true contradictions. Paraconsistency is a property of an inference relation whereas dialetheism is a view about
 
some sentences (or propositions, statements, utterances or whatever,that can be thought of as truth-bearers). The fact that one can definea non-explosive consequence relation does not mean that some sentencesare true. That is, the fact that one can construct a model where acontradiction holds but not every sentence of the language holds (or,if the model theory is given intensionally, where this is the case atsome world) does not mean that the contradiction is true
 per  se
. Hence paraconsistency must be distinguished from dialetheism.Moreover, as we will see below, many paraconsistent logics validatethe Law of Non-Contradiciton (LNC) (
¬(
 A
 
 ¬
 A
)) even though they invalidate ECQ. In a discussion of  paraconsistent logic, the primary focus is not the obtainability of contradictions but the explosive nature of a consequence relation.
2. Motivations
The reasons for paraconsistency that have been put forward seemspecific to the development of the particular formal systems of  paraconsistent logic. However, there are several general reasons for thinking that logic should be paraconsistent. Before we summarise thesystems of paraconsistent logic and their motivations, we present somegeneral motivations for paraconsisent logic.
2.1 Inconsistent but Non-Trivial Theories
A most telling reason for paraconsistent logic is the fact that thereare theories which are inconsistent but non-trivial. Once we admit theexistence of such theories, their underlying logics must be paraconsistent. Examples of inconsistent but non-trivial theories areeasy to produce. An example can be derived from the history of science. (In fact, many examples can be given from this area.)Consider Bohr's theory of the atom. According to this, anelectron orbits the nucleus of the atom without radiatingenergy. However, according to Maxwell's equations, which formedan integral part of the theory, an electron which is accelerating inorbit must radiate energy. Hence Bohr's account of the behaviour of the atom was inconsistent. Yet, patently, not everything concerningthe behavior of electrons was inferred from it, nor should it have been. Hence, whatever inference mechanism it was that underlay it,this must have been paraconsistent.
2.2 Dialetheias (True Contradictions)
Despite the fact that dialetheism and paraconsistency needs to bedistinguished, dialetheism can be a motivation for paraconsistentlogic. If there are true contradictions (dialetheias), i.e., there aresentences,
 A
, such that both
 A
and ¬
 A
 are true, then some inferences of the form {
 A
,

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