Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …


Northern European Journal of Philosophy

Editor-in-Chief: Addis, Mark / Hämäläinen, Nora / Pedersen, Esther Oluffa / Westphal, Kenneth R.

Managing Editor: Pedersen, Esther Oluffa

Together with Niknam, Arman Teymouri

CiteScore 2018: 0.12

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.101
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.059

Print + Online
See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 19, Issue 2


Dialetheism and the Problem of the Missing Difference

Gregory Scott Moss
  • Corresponding author
  • Philosophy, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 414 Fung King Hey Building, New Territories, Hong Kong
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-08-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sats-2017-0012


During the past few decades, Graham Priest has advocated for Dialetheism, the controversial position that some contradictions are true. Dialetheism entails that the Law of Non-Contradiction fails. In recent decades the philosophical community has begun to recognize the significant challenge posed by Priest’s arguments. Priest has primarily appealed to paradoxes of self-reference, such as the Liar Paradox, to support his position. Following Priest’s approach, I offer another argument for Dialetheism, which appeals to a self-referential paradox that has been more or less ignored in the philosophical literature on the subject: the paradox of the missing difference. When we reflect on the question ‘what is a concept?’ from the perspective of a classical model of conceptual analysis, we arrive at the paradox of the missing difference. Although contradictions may be improbable, when we reflect on the question ‘how is the domain of concepts possible?’ we are led to a startling principle: without dialetheia any theory concerning concept formation (from a classical perspective on concepts) would be impossible. Dialetheism is a necessary condition for the existence of a domain of concepts in general. As a result, Dialetheism may even be more central to philosophical reflection than even dialetheists themselves have recognized.

Keywords: dialetheism; contradiction; concept; difference; particularity


  • Aristotle. 2002. Metaphysics. Joe Sachs, tr. Sante Fe: Green Lion Press.Google Scholar

  • Armstrong. 1989. Universals: An opinionated introduction. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar

  • Beall, JC & David Ripley. 2004. Analetheism and dialetheism. Analysis 64(1). 30–35.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Berto, Francesco. 2007. Is dialetheism an idealism? The russellian fallacy and the dialetheist’s dilemma. Dialectica 61(2). 235–263.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Bradley, Armour-Garb & JC Beall. 2002. Further remarks on truth and contradiction. The Philosophical Quarterly 52(207). 217–225.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Bradley, Armour-Garb & JC Beall. 2003. Should deflationists be dialetheists?. Noûs 37(2). 303–324.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cassirer, Ernst. 1953. Substance and function. William Curtus Swaby and Marie Swaby, tr. NY: Dover Pub.Google Scholar

  • Denyer, Nicholas. 1989. Dialetheism and trivialization. Mind, New Series 98(390). 259–263.Google Scholar

  • Everett, Anthony. 1994. Absorbing dialetheia?. Mind 103(412). 413 419.Google Scholar

  • Frege, Gottlob. 1980. The foundations of arithmetic. J.L. Austin, tr. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar

  • Frege, Gottlob. 1984. On concept and object. In Max Black, et alia, tr. Brian McGuinness(ed.), Collected papers on mathematics, logic, and philosophy, 187–194. New York: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Gabriel, Markus. 2015. Fields of sense. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar

  • Halper, Edward (ed). 1993. Hegel and the problem of the differentia In Form and reason: Essays in metaphysics, 197–209. Albany: SUNY.Google Scholar

  • Hegel, G.W.F. 2015. Science of logic. George Di Giovanni, trans. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.Google Scholar

  • Husserl, Edmund. 2001. Shorter logical investigations. J.N. Findlay tr., Dermot Moran, ed. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Jürgen Dümont, Frank Mau. 1998. Are there true contradictions? A critical discussion of graham priest’s ‘beyond the limits of thought’. Journal for General Philosophy of Science /Zeitschrift für allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 29(2). 289–299.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kallestrup, Jesper. 2007. If omniscient beings are dialetheists, then so are anti-realists. Analysis 67(3). 252–254.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Kant, Immanuel. 1998. Critique of pure reason. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood, tr. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.Google Scholar

  • Lowe, E.J. 2009. More kinds of being: A further study of individuation, identity, and the logic of sortal terms. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Milne, Peter. 2007. Omniscient beings are dialetheists. Analysis 67(295). 250–251.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Moss, Gregory. 2014. Four paradoxes of self-reference. Journal of Speculative Philosophy 28(2). 169–189.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Parsons, Terence. 1990. True contradictions. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 20(3). 335–353.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Peacocke,. 1993. A study of concepts. Cambridge: MIT University Press.Google Scholar

  • Plato,. 1996. Parmenides. Albert Keith Whitaker, tr. Newburyport: Focus Philosophical Library.Google Scholar

  • Priest, Graham. 1979. Logic of paradox. Journal of Philosophical Logic 8(1). 219–241.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Priest, Graham. 1985–1986. Contradiction, belief, and rationality. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. New Series 86. 99–11.Google Scholar

  • Priest, Graham. 1989. Paraconsistent logic: Essays on the inconsistent (Analytica), J. Norman, R. Routley, and Graham Priest, ed. Oakland: University of California Press.Google Scholar

  • Priest, Graham. 1989/90. Dialectic and dialetheic. Science & Society 53(4). 388–415.Google Scholar

  • Priest, Graham. 1998. What is so bad about contradictions? The Journal of Philosophy 95(8). 410–426.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Priest, Graham. 2003. Beyond the limits of thought. Oxford: Oxford UP.Google Scholar

  • Priest, Graham. 2006. In Contradiction. Oxford: Oxford UP.Google Scholar

  • Priest, Graham. 2014. One: Being an investigation into the unity of reality and of its parts, including the singular object which is nothingness. Oxford: Oxford UP.Google Scholar

  • Priest, Graham. The logical structure of dialectic. (Draft).Google Scholar

  • Russell, Bertrand. 1911–1912. On the relations of universals and particulars. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. New Series 12. 1–24.Google Scholar

  • Spinoza. 2002. Ethics In Samuel Shirley, tr. Michael L. Morgan (ed.), Complete works, 213–383. Indianapolis: Hackett PublishingGoogle Scholar

  • Whittle, Bruno. 2004. Dialetheism, logical consequence and hierarchy. Analysis 64(4). 318–326.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Yasuo Deguchi, Jay L & Graham Priest Garfield. 2008. The way of the dialetheist: Contradictions in Buddhism. Philosophy East and West 58(3). 395–402.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2018-08-11

Published in Print: 2018-11-27

Citation Information: SATS, Volume 19, Issue 2, Pages 89–110, ISSN (Online) 1869-7577, ISSN (Print) 1600-1974, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sats-2017-0012.

Export Citation

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in