On the Principle of Excluded Middle
I carry out in this paper a philosophical analysis of the principle of excluded middle (or, as it is often called in the version I favor here, principle of bivalence: any meaningful assertion is either true or false). This principle has been criticized, and sometimes rejected, on the charge that its validity depends on presuppositions that are not, some believe, universally obtainable; in particular, that any well-posed problem is solvable. My goal here is to show that, although excluded middle does indeed rest on certain presuppositions, they do not have the character of hypotheses that may or may not be true, or matters of fact that may or may not be the case. These presuppositions have, I claim, a transcendental character. Hence, the acceptance of excluded middle does not necessarily require, as some have claimed, an allegiance to ontological realism or some sort of cognitive optimism, construed as factual theses concerning the ontological status of domains of objects and our capability of accessing them cognitively.
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