Russell-Myhill paradox

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2003)

Abstract

The Russell-Myhill Antinomy, also known as the Principles of Mathematics Appendix B Paradox, is a contradiction that arises in the logical treatment of classes and "propositions", where "propositions" are understood as mind-independent and language-independent logical objects. If propositions are treated as objectively existing objects, then they can be members of classes. But propositions can also be about classes, including classes of propositions. Indeed, for each class of propositions, there is a proposition stating that all propositions in that class are true. Propositions of this form are said to "assert the logical product" of their associated classes. Some such propositions are themselves in the class whose logical product they assert. For example, the proposition asserting that all-propositions-in-the- class-of-all-propositions-are-true is itself a proposition, and therefore it itself is in the class whose logical product it asserts. However, the proposition stating that all-propositions-in-the-null-class-are-true is not itself in the null class. Now consider the class w, consisting of all propositions that state the logical product of some class m in which they are not included. This w is itself a class of propositions, and so there is a proposition r, stating its logical product. The contradiction arises from asking the question of whether r is in the class w. It seems that r is in w just in case it is not. This antinomy was discovered by Bertrand Russell in 1902, a year after discovering a simpler paradox usually called Russell's paradox ". It was discussed informally in Appendix B of his 1903 Principles of Mathematics . In 1958, the antinomy was independently rediscovered by John Myhill, who found it to plague the "Logic of Sense and Denotation" developed by Alonzo Church.

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Kevin Klement
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Sets and Plural Comprehension.Keith Hossack - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (2-3):517-539.

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