Philosophy Dialetheism
Zach Weber
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 June 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0310


A contradiction is any sentence of the form “P and not P,” a sentence together with its negation. Dialetheism is the thesis that some contradictions are true: some true sentences have true negations. It is a thesis about truth and sharply at odds with a lot of philosophy going back to Aristotle. The term “dialetheic” was invented in the late 1970s by Graham Priest and Richard Sylvan (Routley at the time). This neologism was to replace the term “dialectical,” which had been in use from Hegel. The word is intended to mean something like “two-way truth” and is sometimes spelled “dialethism.” Dialetheism’s most famous proponent has been Graham Priest, whose name can be found throughout this article. If there are any true contradictions (or dialetheias) they could be in anything from natural language to arithmetic to the structure of reality. So dialetheism has reverberations throughout logic, language, mathematics, and metaphysics. Dialetheism is motivated largely by logical paradoxes in truth theory and set theory, apparently unsolvable contradictions that heavily influenced logical research in the early 20th century. As such, dialetheism is deeply tied to technical issues in logic—and particularly paraconsistent logic—formal systems that allow for contradictions. Unlike classical logic, a theory in a paraconsistent logic can be inconsistent but non-trivial, so that not every sentence is a part of the theory. Some scholars have traced the idea of dialetheism in works and traditions around the world going back thousands of years. Nevertheless, for the sake of focus, in this bibliography dialetheism per se is conceived of as a contemporary phenomenon in modern philosophical logic.


The references in this section are general starting points. Motivations for dialetheism may be equally found in some of the more specific sections below (e.g., Paradox Solution, Mathematics, or Metaphysics).

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