Too Good to be “Just True”


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Paraconsistent and dialetheist approaches to a theory of truth are faced with a problem: the expressive resources of the logic do not suffice to express that a sentence is just true—i.e., true and not also false—or to express that a sentence is consistent. In his recent book, Spandrels of Truth, Jc Beall proposes a ‘just true’-operator to identify sentences that are true and not also false. Beall suggests seven principles that a ‘just true’-operator must fulfill, and proves that his operator indeed fulfills all of them. He concludes that just true has been expressed in the language.

I argue that, while the seven conditions may be necessary for an operator to express just true, they are not jointly sufficient. Specifically, first, I prove that a further plausible desideratum for necessary conditions on ‘just true’ is not fulfilled by Beall's proposal, namely that ‘just true’ ascriptions should themselves be just true, and not also false (or equivalently, that the ‘just true’-operator iterates). Second, I show that Beall's operator does not adequately express just true, but that it merely captures an arbitrary proper subset of the just true sentences. Further, there is no prospect of extending the proposal in order to encompass a more reasonable subset of the just true sentences without presupposing that we have antecedent means to characterize the class of just true sentences.