A defense of trivialism
AuthorKABAY, PAUL DOUGLAS
AffiliationSchool of Philosophy, Anthropology, and Social Inquiry
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationsKabay, P. D. (2008). A defense of trivialism. PhD thesis, School of Philosophy, Anthropology, and Social Inquiry, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
Deposited with permission of the author © 2008 Dr. Paul Douglas Kabay
That trivialism ought to be rejected is almost universally held. I argue that the rejection of trivialism should be held in suspicion and that there are good reasons for thinking that trivialism is true. After outlining in chapter 1 the place of trivialism in the history of philosophy, I begin in chapter 2 an outline and defense of the various arguments in favor of the truth of trivialism. I defend four such arguments: an argument from the Curry Paradox; and argument from the Characterization Principle; an argument from the Principle of Sufficient Reason; and an argument from the truth of possibilism. In chapter 3 I build a case for thinking that the denial of trivialism is impossible. I begin by arguing that the denial of some view is the assertion of an alternative view. I show that there is no such view as the alternative to trivialism and so the denial of trivialism is impossible. I then examine an alternative view of the nature of denial – that denial is not reducible to an assertion but is a sui generis speech act. It follows given such an account of denial that the denial of trivialism is possible. I respond to this in two ways. First, I give reason for thinking that this is not a plausible account of denial. Secondly, I show that even if it is successful, the denial of trivialism is still unassertable, unbelievable, and severely limited in its rationality. In chapter 4 I examine two important arguments that purport to show that it is impossible to believe in trivialism: one from Aristotle and a more recent one from Graham Priest. According to Aristotle, it is not possible to believe in trivialism because such a belief is incompatible with being able to act in a discriminating manner. According to Priest, belief in trivialism is incompatible with being able to act with a purpose. I show that there are a number of ways to respond to such arguments, and so it is far from obvious that it is impossible to believe in trivialism. In chapter 5 I reply to one of the few sustained arguments against the truth of trivialism. According to this argument, trivialism cannot be true because it entails that every observable state of affairs is contradictory - which is clearly not the case. After raising a number of objections to this line of reasoning, I argue that a contradictory state of affairs will necessarily appear consistent. As such, that the world appears consistent is not a good reason for thinking that it fails to be contradictory. In chapter 6 I defend the claim that the observable world is indeed contradictory in the way that trivialism implies. I show that a dialetheic solution to Zeno’s paradox of the arrow requires one to postulate that a body in motion is located at every point of the path of its journey at every instant of the journey.
Keywordsreality; contradiction; trivialism
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