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Is Dialetheism an Idealism? The Russellian Fallacy and the Dialetheist’s Dilemma



In his famous work on vagueness, Russell named ‘fallacy of verbalism’ the fallacy that consists in mistaking the properties of words for the properties of things. In this paper, I examine two (clusters of) mainstream paraconsistent logical theories – the non-adjunctive and relevant approaches –, and show that, if they are given a strongly paraconsistent or dialetheic reading, the charge of committing the Russellian Fallacy can be raised against them in a sophisticated way, by appealing to the intuitive reading of their underlying semantics. The meaning of ‘intuitive reading’ is clarified by exploiting a well-established distinction between pure and applied semantics. If the proposed arguments go through, the dialetheist or strong paraconsistentist faces the following Dilemma: either she must withdraw her claim to have exhibited true contradictions in a metaphysically robust sense – therefore, inconsistent objects and/or states of affairs that make those contradictions true; or she has to give up realism on truth, and embrace some form of anti-realistic (idealistic, or broadly constructivist) metaphysics. Sticking to the second horn of the Dilemma, though, appears to be promising: it could lead to a collapse of the very distinction, commonly held in the literature, between a weak and a strong form of paraconsistency – and this could be a welcome result for a dialetheist.