Substitution’s Unsolved “Insolubilia”


  • Jolen Galaugher University of Iowa



Russell’s substitutional theory conferred philosophical advantages over the simple type theory it was to emulate. However, it faced propositional paradoxes, and in a 1906 paper “On ‘Insolubilia’ and Their Solution by Symbolic Logic”, he modified the theory to block these paradoxes while preserving Cantor’s results. My aim is to draw out several quandaries for the interpretation of the role of substitution in Russell’s logic. If he was aware of the substitutional (p0a0) paradox in 1906, why did he advertise “In­solubilia” as a solution to the Epimenides? If he was dissatisfied with the solution, as his correspondence suggests, why did he go on to publish it? Why did substitution reappear with orders in “Mathematical Logic as Based on the Theory of Types” if he had rejected a hierarchy of orders as intolerable? I offer the following as possible ex­planations: he construed the “logical Epimenides” as a version of the paradox; his dissatisfaction with the “Insolubilia” solution was philosophical, not technical; and substitution re-emerged because he hoped for a new philosophical gloss on orders. Whether or not my explanations are correct, these issues must be addressed in accounting for Russell’s reasons for ramification.