Publications

Articles

Arithmetical Pluralism and the Objectivity of Syntax, Noûs (2024), DOI: 10.1111/nous.12510, with Dan Waxman

Arithmetical pluralism is the view that there is not one true arithmetic but rather many apparently conflicting arithmetical theories, each true in its own language. While pluralism has recently attracted considerable interest, it has also faced significant criticism. One powerful objection, which can be extracted from Parsons' work, appeals to a categoricity result to argue against the possibility of seemingly conflicting true arithmetics. Another salient objection raised by Putnam and Koellner draws upon the arithmetization of syntax to argue that arithmetical pluralism is inconsistent with the objectivity of syntax. First, we review these arguments and explain why they ultimately fail. We then offer a novel, more sophisticated argument that avoids the pitfalls of both. Our argument combines strategies from both objections to show that pluralism about arithmetic entails pluralism about syntax. Finally, we explore the viability of pluralism in light of our argument and conclude that a stable pluralist position is coherent. This position allows for the possibility of rival packages of arithmetic and syntax theories, provided that they systematically co-vary with one another.

Internalism and the Determinacy of Mathematics, Mind 132(528) (2023), 1028-1052, with Dan Waxman | Preprint

A major challenge in the philosophy of mathematics is to explain how mathematical language can pick out unique structures and acquire determinate content. In recent work, Tim Button and Sean Walsh have introduced a view they call `internalism', according to which mathematical content is explained by internal categoricity results formulated and proven in second-order logic. In this paper, we critically examine the internalist response to the challenge and discuss the philosophical significance of internal categoricity results. Surprisingly, as we argue, while internalism arguably explains how we pick out unique mathematical structures, this does not suffice to account for the determinacy of mathematical discourse.

Higher-order Logic and Disquotational Truth, Journal of Philosophical Logic (2022), 879-918, with Thomas Schindler | PDF

Truth predicates are widely believed to be capable of serving a certain logical or quasi-logical function. There is little consensus, however, on the exact nature of this function. We offer a series of formal results in support of the thesis that disquotational truth is a device to simulate higher-order resources in a first-order setting. More specifically, we show that any theory formulated in a higher-order language can be naturally and conservatively interpreted in a first-order theory with a disquotational truth or truth-of predicate. In the first part of the paper we focus on the relation between truth and full impredicative sentential quantification. The second part is devoted to the relation between truth-of and full impredicative predicate quantification. 

Is deflationism compatible with compositional and Tarskian truth theories?, in Modes of Truth, Carlo Nicolai and Johannes Stern (eds.), Routledge, 2021, 41-68, with Thomas Schindler | Preprint

What requirements must deflationary formal theories of truth satisfy? We argue against the widely accepted view that compositional and Tarskian theories of truth are substantial or otherwise unacceptable to deflationists. We first distinguish two purposes that a formal truth theory can serve: one descriptive, the other logical (i.e. to characterise the correctness of inferences involving 'true'). We show that the most compelling arguments for the incompatibility of compositional and Tarskian theories concern descriptive theories only.

We then put forward two requirements that any deflationist truth theory intended to serve a logical purpose must satisfy. These requirements, we argue, suggest that (i) many well-known compositional and Tarskian theories are acceptable from a deflationist standpoint (including CT); (ii) certain other popular theories of truth (including KF and FS) are not similarly acceptable; (iii) there are no conclusive reasons to impose a conservativeness requirement on deflationary theories of truth.

Reference and Truth, Journal of Philosophical Logic 49(3) (2020), 439-474

Is deflationism compatible with compositional and Tarskian truth theories?, to appear in Modes of Truth, Carlo Nicolai and Johannes Stern (eds.), Routledge, with Thomas Schindler | Final draft

What requirements must deflationary formal theories of truth satisfy? We argue against the widely accepted view that compositional and Tarskian theories of truth are substantial or otherwise unacceptable to deflationists. We first distinguish two purposes that a formal truth theory can serve: one descriptive, the other logical (i.e. to characterise the correctness of inferences involving 'true'). We show that the most compelling arguments for the incompatibility of compositional and Tarskian theories concern descriptive theories only.

 We then put forward two requirements that any deflationist truth theory intended to serve a logical purpose must satisfy. These requirements, we argue, suggest that (i) many well-known compositional and Tarskian theories are acceptable from a deflationist standpoint (including CT); (ii) certain other popular theories of truth (including KF and FS) are not similarly acceptable; (iii) there are no conclusive reasons to impose a conservativeness requirement on deflationary theories of truth.

I apply the notions of alethic reference introduced in previous work in the con- struction of several classical semantic truth theories. Furthermore, I provide proof- theoretic versions of those notions and use them to formulate axiomatic disquota- tional truth systems over classical logic. Some of these systems are shown to be sound, proof-theoretically strong, and compare well to the most renowned systems in the literature.

Alethic Reference, Journal of Philosophical Logic 49(3) (2020), 417–438

I put forward precise and appealing notions of reference, self-reference, and well-foundedness for sentences of the language of first-order Peano arithmetic extended with a truth predicate. These notions are intended to play a central role in the study of the reference patterns that underlie expressions leading to semantic paradox and, thus, in the construction of philosophically well-motivated semantic theories of truth.

Deflationism and the function of truth, Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1) (2018), 326-351, with Thomas Schindler

Deflationists claim that the truth predicate was introduced into our language merely to full a certain logico-linguistic function. Oddly enough, the question what this function exactly consists in has received little attention. We argue that the best way of understanding the function of the truth predicate is as enabling us to mimic higher-order quantification in a first-order framework. Indeed, one can show that the full simple theory of types is reducible to disquotational principles of truth. Our analysis has important consequences for our understanding of truth. In this paper, we can only touch on one of them: we will argue that the insubstantiality of truth does not imply a conservativity requirement on our best theories of truth.

Truth in a Logic of Formal Inconsistency: How classical can it get?, Logic Journal of the IGPL for the special issue "Recovery Operators and Logics of Formal Consistency & Inconsistencies" (2018) (the journal is to blame for typos and horrible notation discrepancies)

Weakening classical logic is one of the most popular ways of dealing with semantic paradoxes. Their advocates often claim that such weakening does not affect non-semantic reasoning. Recently, however, Halbach and Horsten (2006) have shown that this is actually not the case for Kripke’s fixed-point theory based on the Strong Kleene evaluation scheme. Feferman’s axiomatization KF in classical logic is much stronger than its paracomplete counterpart PKF⁠, not only in terms of semantic but also in arithmetical content. This paper compares the proof-theoretic strength of an axiomatization of Kripke’s construction based on the paraconsistent evaluation scheme of LP⁠, formulated in classical logic with that of an axiomatization directly formulated in LP⁠, extended with a consistency operator. The ultimate goal is to find out whether paraconsistent solutions to the paradoxes that employ consistency operators fare better in this respect than paracomplete ones.

Reference in Arithmetic, Review of Symbolic Logic 11 (2018), 573-603 | Preprint

Self-reference has played a prominent role in the development of metamathematics in the past century, starting with Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem. Given the nature of this and other results in the area, the informal understanding of self-reference in arithmetic has sufficed so far. Recently, however, it has been argued that for other related issues in metamathematics and philosophical logic a precise notion of self-reference and, more generally, reference is actually required. These notions have been so far elusive and are surrounded by an aura of scepticism that has kept most philosophers away. In this paper I suggest we shouldn’t give up all hope. First, I introduce the reader to these issues. Second, I discuss the conditions a good notion of reference in arithmetic must satisfy. Accordingly, I then introduce adequate notions of reference for the language of first-order arithmetic, which I show to be fruitful for addressing the aforementioned issues in metamathematics.

Disquotation and Infinite Conjunctions, Erkenntnis 83 (2017), 899–928, with Thomas Schindler

One of the main logical functions of the truth predicate is to enable us to express so-called ‘infinite conjunctions’. Several authors claim that the truth predicate can serve this function only if it is fully disquotational (transparent), which leads to triviality in classical logic. As a consequence, many have concluded that classical logic should be rejected. The purpose of this paper is threefold. First, we consider two accounts available in the literature of what it means to express infinite conjunctions with a truth predicate and argue that they fail to support the necessity of transparency for that purpose. Second, we show that, with the aid of some regimentation, many expressive functions of the truth predicate can actually be performed using truth principles that are consistent in classical logic. Finally, we suggest a reconceptualisation of deflationism, according to which the principles that govern the use of the truth predicate in natural language are largely irrelevant for the question of what formal theory of truth we should adopt. Many philosophers think that the paradoxes pose a special problem for deflationists; we will argue, on the contrary, that deflationists are in a much better position to deal with the paradoxes than their opponents.

Minimalism, Reference, and Paradoxes, The Logica Yearbook 2015, Pavel Arazim and Michal Dancak (eds.), College Publications, London, 2016, 163-178 | Preprint

The aim of this paper is to provide a minimalist axiomatic the-ory of truth based on the notion of reference. To do this, we first givesound and arithmetically simple notions of reference, self-reference, andwell-foundedness for the language of first-order arithmetic extended with atruth predicate; a task that has been so far elusive in the literature. Then,we use the new notions to restrict the T-schema to sentences that exhibit‘safe’ reference patterns, confirming the widely accepted but never workedout idea that paradoxes can be characterised in terms of their underlying ref-erence patterns. This results in a strong, ω-consistent, and well-motivatedsystem of disquotational truth, as required by minimalism.

Notes on ω-inconsistent theories of truth in second-order languages, The Review of Symbolic Logic 6 (2013), 733-741, in collaboration with Eduardo Barrio | Preprint

It is widely accepted that a theory of truth for arithmetic should be consistent, but ω-consistency is less frequently required. This paper argues that ω-consistency is a highly desirable feature for such theories. The point has already been made for first-order languages, though the evidence is not entirely conclusive. We show that in the second-order case the consequence of adopting ω-inconsistent truth theories for arithmetic is unsatisfiability. In order to bring out this point, well known ω-inconsistent theories of truth are considered: the revision theory of nearly stable truth T# and the classical theory of symmetric truth FS. Briefly, we present some conceptual problems with ω-inconsistent theories, and demonstrate some technical results that support our criticisms of such theories.

Stephen Yablo [23,24] introduces a new informal paradox, constituted by an infinite list of semi-formalized sentences. It has been shown that, formalized in a first-order language, Yablo’s piece of reasoning is invalid, for it is impossible to derive falsum from the sequence, due mainly to the Compactness Theorem. This result casts doubts on the paradoxical character of the list of sentences. After identifying two usual senses in which an expression or set of expressions is said to be paradoxical, since second-order languages are not compact, I study the paradoxicality of Yablo’s list within these languages. While non-paradoxical in the first sense, the second-order version of the list is a paradox in our second sense. I conclude that this suffices for regarding Yablo’s original list as paradoxical and his informal argument as valid.

The Old-Fashioned Yablo Paradox, Análisis Filosófico 32 (2012) 21-29 | Preprint

The Yablo paradox’ main interest lies on its prima facie non-circular character, which many have doubted, specially when formulated in an extension of the language of first- order arithmetic. Particularly, Priest (1997) and Cook (2006, forthcoming) provided contentious arguments in favor of circularity. My aims in this note are (i) to show that the notion of circularity involved in the debate so far is defective, (ii) to provide a new sound and useful partial notion of circularity and (iii) to show there is a non-circular formulation of the list in an extension of the language of first-order arithmetic according to the new notion.

Book Reviews

Review of Proof and Falsity, by Nils Kurbis, Analysis 81(3) (2021), 595–599 | Preprint

Chapters in Books


La Paradoja de Yablo (Yablo's Paradox), in Paradojas, Paradojas y más Paradojas (Paradoxes, Paradoxes, and more Paradoxes), Eduardo Barrio (ed.), College Publications, London, 2014 | Preprint

La Teoría Revisionista de la Verdad (The Revisionist Theory of Truth), in La Lógica de la Verdad (The Logic of Truth), Eduardo Barrio (ed.), Eudeba, Buenos Aires, 2014, 117-186, in collaboration with Natalia Buacar | Preprint


Theses


PhD: Verdad. Deflacionismo, Referencia y Paradojas (Truth. Deflationism, Reference, and Paradoxes)

BA/MA: La Paradojicidad de la Paradoja de Yablo (The Paradoxicality of Yablo's Paradox)


Miscellaneous


Editorial and Interview with Roy T. Cook, The Reasoner 10 (1), January 2016, 99-102