Trivialism is the logical theory that all statements (also known as propositions) are true and that all contradictions of the form "p and not p" (e.g. the ball is red and not red) are true. In accordance with this, a trivialist is a person who believes everything is true.
In classical logic, trivialism is in direct violation of Aristotle's law of noncontradiction. In philosophy, trivialism is considered by some to be the complete opposite of skepticism. Paraconsistent logics may use "the law of non-triviality" to abstain from trivialism in logical practices that involve true contradictions.
Theoretical arguments and anecdotes have been offered for trivialism to contrast it with theories such as modal realism, dialetheism and paraconsistent logics.
Trivialism, as a term, is derived from the Latin word trivialis, meaning something that can be found everywhere. From this, "trivial" was used to suggest something was introductory or simple. In logic, from this meaning, a "trivial" theory is something regarded as defective in the face of a complex phenomenon that needs to be completely represented. Thus, literally, the trivialist theory is something expressed in the simplest possible way.
In symbolic logic, trivialism may be expressed as the following:
The above would be read as "given any proposition, it is a true proposition" through universal quantification (∀).
A claim of trivialism may always apply its fundamental truth, otherwise known as a truth predicate:
The above would be read as a "proposition if and only if a true proposition", meaning that all propositions are believed to be inherently proven as true. Without consistent use of this concept, a claim of advocating trivialism may not be seen as genuine and complete trivialism; as to claim a proposition is true but deny it as probably true may be considered inconsistent with the assumed theory.
Luis Estrada-González in "Models of Possibilism and Trivialism" lists four types of trivialism through the concept of possible worlds, with a "world" being a possibility and "the actual world" being reality. It is theorized a trivialist simply designates a value to all propositions in equivalence to seeing all propositions and their negations as true. This taxonomy is used to demonstrate the different strengths and plausibility of trivialism in this context:
The consensus among the majority of philosophers is descriptively a denial of trivialism, termed as non-trivialism or anti-trivialism.This is due to it being unable to produce a sound argument through the principle of explosion and it being considered an absurdity (reductio ad absurdum).
Aristotle's law of noncontradiction and other arguments are considered to be against trivialism. Luis Estrada-González in "Models of Possiblism and Trivialism" has interpreted Aristotle's Metaphysics Book IV as such: "A family of arguments between 1008a26 and 1007b12 of the form 'If trivialism is right, then X is the case, but if X is the case then all things are one. But it is impossible that all things are one, so trivialism is impossible.' ... these Aristotelian considerations are the seeds of virtually all subsequent suspicions against trivialism: Trivialism has to be rejected because it identifies what should not be identified, and is undesirable from a logical point of view because it identifies what is not identical, namely, truth and falsehood."
Graham Priest considers trivialism untenable: "a substantial case can be made for [dialetheism]; belief in [trivialism], though, would appear to be grounds for certifiable insanity".
He formulated the "law of non-triviality" as a replacement for the law of non-contradiction in paraconsistent logic and dialetheism.
There are theoretical arguments for trivialism argued from the position of a devil's advocate:
Paul Kabay has argued for trivialism in "On the Plenitude of Truth" from the following:
- Possibilism is true [premise]
- If possibilism is true, then there is a world (either possible or impossible or both), w, in which trivialism is true [premise]
- w is a possible world [premise]
- It is true in w that w is identical to the actual world, A 
- If it is true that there is a world, w, and w is a possible world, and it is true in w that w is identical to A, then trivialism is true [premise]
- Trivialism is true [1–5]
Above, possibilism (modal realism; related to possible worlds) is the oft-debated theory that every proposition is possible. With this assumed to be true, trivialism can be assumed to be true as well according to Kabay.
The liar's paradox, Curry's paradox, and the principle of explosion all can be asserted as valid and not required to be resolved and used to defend trivialism.
In Paul Kabay's comparison of trivialism to schools of philosophical skepticism (in "On the Plenitude of Truth")—such as Pyrrhonism—who seek to attain a form of ataraxia, or state of imperturbability; it is purported the figurative trivialist inherently attains this state. This is claimed to be justified by the figurative trivialist seeing every state of affairs being true, even in a state of anxiety. Once universally accepted as true, the trivialist is free from any further anxieties regarding whether any state of affairs is true.
Kabay compares the Pyrrhonian skeptic to the figurative trivialist and claims that as the skeptic reportedly attains a state of imperturbability through a suspension of belief, the trivialist may attain such a state through an abundance of belief.
In this case—and according to independent claims by Graham Priest—trivialism is considered the complete opposite of skepticism.However, insofar as the trivialist affirms all states of affairs as universally true, the Pyrrhonist neither affirms nor denies the truth (or falsity) of such affairs.
It is asserted by both Priest and Kabay that it is impossible for a trivialist to truly choose and thus act.Priest argues this by the following in Doubt Truth to Be a Liar: "One cannot intend to act in such a way as to bring about some state of affairs, s, if one believes s already to hold. Conversely, if one acts with the purpose of bringing s about, one cannot believe that s already obtains." Due to their suspension of determination upon striking equipollence between claims, the Pyrrhonist has also remained subject to apraxia charges.
Paul Kabay, an Australian philosopher, in his book A Defense of Trivialism has argued that various philosophers in history have held views resembling trivialism, although he stops short of calling them trivialists. He mentions various pre-Socratic Greek philosophers as philosophers holding views resembling trivialism. He mentions that Aristotle in his book Metaphysics appears to suggest that Heraclitus and Anaxagoras advocated trivialism. He quotes Anaxagoras as saying that all things are one. Kabay also suggests Heraclitus' ideas are similar to trivialism because Heraclitus believed in a union of opposites, shown in such quotes as "the way up and down is the same". : 32–35 Kabay also mentions a fifteenth century Roman Catholic cardinal, Nicholas of Cusa, stating that what Cusa wrote in De Docta Ignorantia is interpreted as stating that God contained every fact, which Kabay argues would result in trivialism, but Kabay admits that mainstream Cusa scholars would not agree with interpreting Cusa as a trivialist. : 36–37 Kabay also mentions Spinoza as a philosopher whose views resemble trivialism. Kabay argues Spinoza was a trivialist because Spinoza believed everything was made of one substance which had infinite attributes. : 37–40 Kabay also mentions Hegel as a philosopher whose views resemble trivialism, quoting Hegel as stating in The Science of Logic "everything is inherently contradictory." : 40–41
Jody Azzouni is a purported advocate of trivialism in his article The Strengthened Liar by claiming that natural language is trivial and inconsistent through the existence of the liar paradox ("This sentence is false"), and claiming that natural language has developed without central direction. Azzouni implies that every sentence in any natural language is true. "According to Azzouni, natural language is trivial, that is to say, every sentence in natural language is true...And, of course, trivialism follows straightforwardly from the triviality of natural language: after all, 'trivialism is true' is a sentence in natural language." : 42
The Greek philosopher Anaxagoras is suggested as a possible trivialist by Graham Priest in his 2005 book Doubt Truth to Be a Liar. Priest writes, "He held that, at least at one time, everything was all mixed up so that no predicate applied to any one thing more than a contrary predicate."
Luis Estrada-González in "Models of Possibilism and Trivialism" lists eight types of anti-trivialism (or non-trivialism) through the use of possible worlds:
In logic, the law of non-contradiction (LNC) states that contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time, e. g. the two propositions "p is the case" and "p is not the case" are mutually exclusive. Formally this is expressed as the tautology ¬(p ∧ ¬p). The law is not to be confused with the law of excluded middle which states that at least one, "p is the case" or "p is not the case" holds.
In logic, the law of excluded middle states that for every proposition, either this proposition or its negation is true. It is one of the so called three laws of thought, along with the law of noncontradiction, and the law of identity. However, no system of logic is built on just these laws, and none of these laws provides inference rules, such as modus ponens or De Morgan's laws.
In philosophy and logic, the classical liar paradox or liar's paradox or antinomy of the liar is the statement of a liar that they are lying: for instance, declaring that "I am lying". If the liar is indeed lying, then the liar is telling the truth, which means the liar just lied. In "this sentence is a lie" the paradox is strengthened in order to make it amenable to more rigorous logical analysis. It is still generally called the "liar paradox" although abstraction is made precisely from the liar making the statement. Trying to assign to this statement, the strengthened liar, a classical binary truth value leads to a contradiction.
In logic, the semantic principleof bivalence states that every declarative sentence expressing a proposition has exactly one truth value, either true or false. A logic satisfying this principle is called a two-valued logic or bivalent logic.
A paradox is a logically self-contradictory statement or a statement that runs contrary to one's expectation. It is a statement that, despite apparently valid reasoning from true premises, leads to a seemingly self-contradictory or a logically unacceptable conclusion. A paradox usually involves contradictory-yet-interrelated elements that exist simultaneously and persist over time. They result in "persistent contradiction between interdependent elements" leading to a lasting "unity of opposites".
In logic and mathematics, proof by contradiction is a form of proof that establishes the truth or the validity of a proposition, by showing that assuming the proposition to be false leads to a contradiction. Proof by contradiction is also known as indirect proof, proof by assuming the opposite, and reductio ad impossibile.
In logic, false or untrue is the state of possessing negative truth value or a nullary logical connective. In a truth-functional system of propositional logic, it is one of two postulated truth values, along with its negation, truth. Usual notations of the false are 0, O, and the up tack symbol .
Pluralism is a term used in philosophy, meaning "doctrine of multiplicity," often used in opposition to monism and dualism. The term has different meanings in metaphysics, ontology, epistemology and logic.
In logic, a three-valued logic is any of several many-valued logic systems in which there are three truth values indicating true, false and some indeterminate third value. This is contrasted with the more commonly known bivalent logics which provide only for true and false.
Understood in a narrow sense, philosophical logic is the area of philosophy that studies the application of logical methods to philosophical problems, often in the form of extended logical systems like modal logic. Some theorists conceive philosophical logic in a wider sense as the study of the scope and nature of logic in general. In this sense, philosophical logic can be seen as identical to the philosophy of logic, which includes additional topics like how to define logic or a discussion of the fundamental concepts of logic. The current article treats philosophical logic in the narrow sense, in which it forms one field of inquiry within the philosophy of logic.
Logical possibility refers to a logical proposition that cannot be disproved, using the axioms and rules of a given system of logic. The logical possibility of a proposition will depend upon the system of logic being considered, rather than on the violation of any single rule. Some systems of logic restrict inferences from inconsistent propositions or even allow for true contradictions. Other logical systems have more than two truth-values instead of a binary of such values. However, when talking about logical possibility, it is often assumed that the system in question is classical propositional logic. Similarly, the criterion for logical possibility is often based on whether or not a proposition is contradictory and as such, is often thought of as the broadest type of possibility.
A paraconsistent logic is an attempt at a logical system to deal with contradictions in a discriminating way. Alternatively, paraconsistent logic is the subfield of logic that is concerned with studying and developing "inconsistency-tolerant" systems of logic which reject the principle of explosion.
Dialetheism is the view that there are statements which are both true and false. More precisely, it is the belief that there can be a true statement whose negation is also true. Such statements are called "true contradictions", dialetheia, or nondualisms.
In classical logic, intuitionistic logic and similar logical systems, the principle of explosion, or the principle of Pseudo-Scotus, is the law according to which any statement can be proven from a contradiction. That is, once a contradiction has been asserted, any proposition can be inferred from it; this is known as deductive explosion.
Graham Priest is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center, as well as a regular visitor at the University of Melbourne, where he was Boyce Gibson Professor of Philosophy and also at the University of St Andrews.
Logical truth is one of the most fundamental concepts in logic. Broadly speaking, a logical truth is a statement which is true regardless of the truth or falsity of its constituent propositions. In other words, a logical truth is a statement which is not only true, but one which is true under all interpretations of its logical components. Thus, logical truths such as "if p, then p" can be considered tautologies. Logical truths are thought to be the simplest case of statements which are analytically true. All of philosophical logic can be thought of as providing accounts of the nature of logical truth, as well as logical consequence.
Logic is the formal science of using reason and is considered a branch of both philosophy and mathematics and to a lesser extent computer science. Logic investigates and classifies the structure of statements and arguments, both through the study of formal systems of inference and the study of arguments in natural language. The scope of logic can therefore be very large, ranging from core topics such as the study of fallacies and paradoxes, to specialized analyses of reasoning such as probability, correct reasoning, and arguments involving causality. One of the aims of logic is to identify the correct and incorrect inferences. Logicians study the criteria for the evaluation of arguments.
Jc Beall is an American philosopher, formerly the Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at University of Connecticut. As of late 2020 Beall holds the O’Neill Family Chair of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.
The following is a list of works by philosopher Graham Priest.
I argue that, far from showing the impossibility of such a thing, the argument clarifies the very nature of a trivialist. Among its other properties, such a being will be in a quiescent state, and it cannot perform any action — it cannot eat, preach, walk around, or whatever.
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