Berkeley Lecture 2017

Professor Volker Halbach

The 2017 Berkeley Lecture will be given by Professor Volker Halbach, he is a German logician and philosopher and fellow of New College, Oxford. He is author of several articles and books including the Logic Manual, a textbook on undergraduate logic and different works on the axiomatic motivation of truth.

The Taming of the Truth

Thursday, 6 April, 2017 at 6pm.

Renehan Hall, South Campus, Maynooth University

Truth is a wild notion: Thinking about truth can lead one to the results of modern mathematical logic as well as into dark corners of philosophy. Some sober-minded philosophers have tried to ban truth from philosophical discourse; others have declared it a trivial concept, while still others have tried to tame it using formal logical theories. I will look at some of these attempts and how these theories can be used in philosophy and mathematics.

One reason why it is so difficult to domesticate truth and to transform it into a philosophically and mathematically useful concept are paradoxes. The most famous paradox is the liar paradox, which can be stated as follows: THE SENTENCE IN CAPITAL LETTERS IS NOT TRUE. It seems that the sentence can neither be true nor not true and a contradiction ensues. Paradoxes like this have vexed logicians since antiquity. I will present further paradoxes and indicate how they can be resolved or blocked. They cannot easily be dismissed as oddities, as I will argue. Reflecting on the paradoxes has lead philosophers and logicians to new mathematical and philosophical insights. Exactly because truth is such a wild notion and prone to paradox, it is a fruitful and intriguing notion.

The Berkeley Lecture is an annual event at Maynooth University in which a talk in the general area of mathematics and philosophy is given by a high-profile visiting speaker. It is sponsored by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the Department of Philosophy at Maynooth University.