Remarks on the Epistemic Interpretation of Paraconsistent Logic

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In a recent work, Walter Carnielli and Abilio Rodrigues present an epistemically motivated interpretation of paraconsistent logic. In their view, when there is conflicting evidence with regard to a proposition A (i.e. when there is both evidence in favor of A and evidence in favor of ¬A) both A and ¬A should be accepted without thereby accepting any proposition B whatsoever. Hence, reasoning within their system intends to mirror, and thus, should be constrained by, the way in which we reason about evidence. In this article we will thoroughly discuss their position and suggest some ways in which this project can be further developed. The aim of the paper is twofold. On the one hand, we will present some philosophical critiques to the specific epistemic interpretation of paraconsistent logic proposed by Carnielli & Rodrigues. First, we will contend that Carnielli & Rodrigues’s interpretation implies a thesis about what evidence rationally justifies to accept or believe, called Extreme Permissivism, which is controversial among epistemologists. Second, we will argue that what agents should do, from an epistemic point of view, when faced with conflicting evidence, is to suspend judgment. On the other hand, despite these criticisms we do not believe that the epistemological motivation put forward by Carnielli & Rodrigues is entirely wrong. In the last section, we offer an alternative way in which one might account for the epistemic rationality of accepting contradictions and, thus, for an epistemic understanding of paraconsistency, which leads us to discuss the notion of diachronic epistemic rationality.
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Archival date: 2018-11-29
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