Curry's paradox


Curry’s paradox is a version of Russell's paradox that does not involve the use of negation.

Russell’s paradox is a proof of falsehood, rendering a certain class of formal systems (those including some kind of unlimited axiom of comprehension) “inconsistent” in the sense that they prove false, which by the law of ex falso quodlibet entails that they prove anything at all. Curry’s paradox is a direct proof of “anything at all” without the detour through falsehood. Thus, it applies more generally than Russell’s paradox, e.g. to theories lacking a notion of “false”, or to paraconsistent theories whose notion of “false” does not satisfy ex falso quodlibet.

Curry’s paradox does, however, still depend on the structural rule of contraction. Thus, it can be avoided by systems based on linear logic.


Let PP be any statement at all, and consider the set

C={x(xx)P}. C = \{ x \mid (x\in x) \Rightarrow P \}.

Then if CCC\in C, by definition we have (CC)P(C\in C) \Rightarrow P, and hence by modus ponens we have PP. Therefore, (CC)P(C\in C) \Rightarrow P. But by definition this means that CCC\in C, and therefore (as we just proved) PP.

Note that, if negation is defined as ¬P=(P)\neg P = (P \Rightarrow \bot) for some notion of falsehood \bot, then Russell’s paradox is the special case of Curry’s paradox for P=P=\bot.

Last revised on January 13, 2021 at 18:57:40. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.