Truth and Paradox in Late XIVth Century Logic : Peter of Mantua’s Treatise on Insoluble Propositions

Riccardo Strobino
Tufts University
This paper offers an analysis of a hitherto neglected text on insoluble propositions dating from the late XiVth century and puts it into perspective within the context of the contemporary debate concerning semantic paradoxes. The author of the text is the italian logician Peter of Mantua (d. 1399/1400). The treatise is relevant both from a theoretical and from a historical standpoint. By appealing to a distinction between two senses in which propositions are said to be true, it offers an unusual solution to the paradox, but in a traditional spirit that contrasts a number of trends prevailing in the XiVth century. It also counts as a remarkable piece of evidence for the reconstruction of the reception of English logic in italy, as it is inspired by the views of John Wyclif. Three approaches addressing the Liar paradox (Albert of Saxony, William Heytesbury and a version of strong restrictionism) are first criticised by Peter of Mantua, before he presents his own alternative solution. The latter seems to have a prima facie intuitive justification, but is in fact acceptable only on a very restricted understanding, since its generalisation is subject to the so-called revenge problem.
Keywords Medieval logic XIVth century logic  Liar paradox  Medieval theories of truth  Peter of Mantua  Albert of Saxony  William Heytesbury  John Wyclif  Thomas Bradwardine  Semantic paradoxes, insolubilia  Self-reference
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