The abridgement paradox

Roy Sorensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When axiomatizing a body of truths, one first concentrates on obtaining a set of axioms that entail all and only those truths. The theorist expects that this complete system will have some needlessly strong axioms that can later be weakened or even deleted. What happens if the theorist includes in his system recognition of this superfluity? Contradiction! Even admitting the possibility of superfluity dashes all hope of consistency. Any suspicion of superfluous information must be voiced from outside the system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-588
Number of pages17
JournalAustralasian Journal of Philosophy
Issue number3
Early online date31 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019


  • Blaise Pascal
  • Relevance
  • Self-reference
  • Superfluous information
  • Theoretician’s dilemma


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