On a certain fallacy concerning I-am-unprovable sentences


We demonstrate that, in itself and in the absence of extra premises, the following argument scheme is fallacious: The sentence A says about itself that it has a property F, and A does in fact have the property F; therefore A is true. We then examine an argument of this form in the informal introduction of Gödel’s classic (1931) and examine some auxiliary premises which might have been at work in that context. Philosophically significant as it may be, that particular informal argument plays no rôle in Gödel’s technical results. Going deeper into the issue and investigating truth conditions of Gödelian sentences (i.e., those sentences which are provably equivalent to their own unprovability) will provide us with insights regarding the philosophical debate on the truth of Gödelian sentences of systems—a debate which goes back to Dummett (1963).



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