The inconsistency of natural languages: How we live with it

Inquiry 50 (6):590 – 605 (2007)
Abstract
I revisit my earlier arguments for the (trivial) inconsistency of natural languages, and take up the objection that no such argument can be established on the basis of surface usage. I respond with the evidential centrality of surface usage: the ways it can and can't be undercut by linguistic science. Then some important ramifications of having an inconsistent natural language are explored: (1) the temptation to engage in illegitimate reductio reasoning, (2) the breakdown of the knowledge idiom (because its facticity isn't comfortable with every sentence being true and false). Restoring the utility of the knowledge idiom motivates regimentation - the consistentist reinterpretation of natural language inferences (as they occur in real time). It's then sketched how to give the semantics of a natural language despite its inconsistency: Necessary and sufficient truth conditions are dropped in favor of necessary truth conditions and sufficient truth conditions
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Kevin Scharp (2007). Replacing Truth. Inquiry 50 (6):606 – 621.
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