Please read the complete description before putting any answer / comment, Thank you.

I've been just thinking through this question which I can frame it like this:

Can I write or utter any sentence which is neither false nor true?

Ok, after I've seen couple of answers (Thanks for the contributions), I want to edit my question.

one of the answers I've got:

A question is neither true nor false.

Understand, that sentence can be described as interrogative, but let's follow this:

If I utter May I know your name? now, what I just uttered has come out of the truth hood which indicates that I don't know your name, so in this case, the sentence I uttered is a by product of the truth I have

Next thing I've got

self-referential sentences such as This sentence is false.

It reminds me a paradox (forgot its name), nonetheless, This sentence is false even though the truth value of your example is undetermined..it is true that your example is self-referential, which in-turn created with a true intention.

So far things have fallen under truth...

More edits:

There are couple of things I want to share, first is to address what I mean by the word "sentence": a thing (in language) created using words to describe my thoughts (a brain activity) or sometimes use to describe my (r)eality that I am seeing or the reality that is accessible to me.

Secondly, I spent some more time to think through my question, the more I think, I've come to this conclusion. there is no bi-valance and there is no true or false, there is just only one thing and that one thing is the origin of everything that follows....And that thing is

The Truth.

Because think of this, even if I ever were to lie (lies formed out of falsity), In-order for a lie to be a lie, it is has to come from The Truth.

it is true that I am lying.

it is true that the lie I told doesn't bear the truth.

it is true that my intention is true enough to form a lie.

it is true that the falsity used in my lie is truly false.

it is true that a lie can't become true.

And it is true that the true premises never form a false conclusion

So I just see only one thing: The Truth and I wonder were you people seeing it?

To mention: A comment I put as a reply to one person has been silently deleted (been there for a day) and I think, it got to be pretty uncomfortable for whoever did it-- Remember, The Truth is on you, can't escape.

What I commented: "you need to read the description too before comment".

  • 7
    "Can I write or utter any sentence which is neither false nor true?" You mean, like that one? Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 18:13
  • 7
    Please do not edit questions to invalidate answers. It causes substantial issues with Stack Exchange's approach. Also, it does seem like you are shifting the question from truth and false into the idea of "lying" which is a completely separate concept. If you are interested in lying, I recommend starting another question about it.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 4:34
  • 8
    This is not a site for defending personal convictions but for asking questions. What is the question?
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 7:33
  • 7
    16 answers, none of them accepted and some deleted, and a wall of edits would suggest that "this question" has been neither understood nor answered. Probably, because there is no question other than in the title, which is not "this question", apparently. "Were you people seeing it?" solicits personal opinions and is off-topic here, as are personal meditations. Perhaps, you could post a self-answer, if "this question" has been answered for you, and also explain in it what "this question" was.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 9:06
  • 2
    Seeking yes or no from contributors solicits their opinions, which is off-topic here. Questions are supposed to be crafted to be answerable based on what philosophers published, not on what users see or do not see. But you can describe what you see in a self-answer.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 0:26

15 Answers 15


Various candidates would be:

self-referential sentences such as "This sentence is false."

opinion-based sentences such as "Chocolate is the most delicious ice cream flavor."

sentences where the truth value depends on the referents: "I am awake right now." (indexical) "The team went on to win the cup." (context)

sentences with metaphor / poetry / nonsense: "Anger reflects the clouds."

some counterfactual sentences: "If the match hadn't ended in a draw, the away team would have won."

See also Are all non self-referential statements true or false?

  • 1
    Edited my question.
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 13:04
  • 6
    + nice examples.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 13:14
  • 12
    Also, sentences that don't express a fact. Like: "Go to your room". Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 22:47
  • 3
    Wouldn't that one fit under opinion-based?
    – present
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 1:03
  • 2
    @DarrelHoffman Whether we know something to be true or false does not change whether it actually is true or false. There are many, many more statements out there than we can ever hope to prove or disprove... (Which, curiously, is a fact that is actually proven. Math is weird sometimes... :-) ) As to Russell's teapot, that's exactly the thing: We know the statement is either true or false, but we don't know which. We can make assumptions and guesses about it, or try to (dis-)prove it, but all our efforts don't change what's really there a L3. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 18:06

The OP asks the following:

Can I write or utter any sentence which is neither false nor true?

Yes. An example would be Tomorrow I will rise at precisely 6 am. That sentence today is neither true nor false. However, I will know tomorrow, but by then I will have a different sentence, perhaps: Today I rose at 6:30. That sentence could be viewed as either true or false since it is in the immediate past.

The logic textbook forallx describes three kinds of sentences that grammatically count as sentences although they are neither true nor false: questions, imperatives and exclamations. (pages 4-5)

That text also goes into detail about the kind of sentences to which logicians are interested in assigning truth-values. This is a subset of all possible sentences. These are the ones that logically count: (page 4)

To be perfectly general, we can define an argument as a series of sentences. The sentences at the beginning of the series are premises. The final sentence in the series is the conclusion. If the premises are true and the argument is a good one, then you have a reason to accept the conclusion.

In logic, we are only interested in sentences that can figure as a premise or conclusion of an argument. So we will say that a sentence is something that can be true or false.

What counts in logic are arguments. Arguments are composed of sentences on which one can assign a truth-value.

The OP also asks about self-referential sentences. These are sentences that should logically count. One should be able to assign a truth-value to them and yet when we do we run into paradoxes. These paradoxes are important. They challenge how we deal with that subset of sentences to which we want to assign truth-values. We not only want to assign truth-values. We also want to consistently do so.

P. D. Magnus, Tim Button with additions by J. Robert Loftis remixed and revised by Aaron Thomas-Bolduc, Richard Zach, forallx Calgary Remix: An Introduction to Formal Logic, Fall 2019. http://forallx.openlogicproject.org/forallxyyc.pdf

  • 5
    Your example about future events is highly controversial. What do you mean be TRUTH? It seems to me you use the sense verification or scientific analysis of TRUTH. Therefore because you cant as sense verify x the proposition x is allegedly not true or false all because of ignorance & lack of sense verification. I object: all propositions are objectively True or false but not both & not neither. Objective means universal truth that can never change & the truth vlue independently exists. So tomorrow I will rise at precisely at 6 am is blatantly FALSE by 6:15 & onwards. How could you deny this?
    – Logikal
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 17:06
  • Splendid example Frank! I remember (couple months ago??) you made a similar claim... more cogently. Can you find that one?
    – Rushi
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 17:21
  • @Rusi Statements about the future come from reading Dummett's anti-realism in The Logical Basis of Metaphysics. I referred to them earlier here: philosophy.stackexchange.com/a/64873/29944 Thank you! Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 18:07
  • 2
    Can you explain WHY a sentence has no truth value until you become aware of it? Is the value literally waiting for your awareness? Why is not true or false and then You became aware of that truth value? Why are you defining things in such a way that older philosophers did not define as? Why take only the math version without saying Mathematical logic?
    – Logikal
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 19:27
  • 2
    @Logikal It is not a mathematical logic position, but an anti-realist position regarding statements about the future. The reason why is because the event they refer to has not happened yet. We have to wait to find out what will happen. It does not depend on me becoming aware of it or not. It simply has not yet happened. A realist position would claim those statements about the future are either true or false right now. An anti-realist position rejects that. Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 19:42

Is every sentence we write or utter either true or false?

NO. A sentence is "a textual unit consisting of one or more words that are grammatically linked. [... The] words [are] grouped meaningfully to express a statement, question, exclamation, request, command or suggestion.

A question is neither true nor false.

  • Edited my question.
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 13:04
  • 2
    +1 I'd overlooked that a question can be a sentence - as of course can be an imperative. Neither is T or F.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 13:15
  • Edited my question (2)
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 14:42

You are asking a very important, and for certain schools of thought, central question!

There has been for a long time and still is the conception that all utterances can be measured in the truth values of true and false. To understand some of the difficulties that arise, let us consider what it means of something to be true or false.

As you already wrote, the only thing that can be true or false is a sentence. Usually, in philosophy there is the conception that a sentence has to mirror a fact in the world in one way or another. This is called the correspondence theory of truth. If the sentence fits the fact in the world we call it true, if it doesn't we call it false.

Historically, there were attempts to order all sentences into these two categories. For this, of course, all sorts of crazy constructs were tested, among them the already mentioned self referential sentences. Bertrand Russell for example had considerable trouble with certain sentences. What is the truth value, he asked, of the sentence:

The current king of france is bald.

One short answer is: this sentence is neither true nor false, because there is nothing in the world that corresponds with its parts. The early Wittgenstein would say a sentence of this kind is senseless or nonsensical.

The same can be said about sentences that are always true (tautologies) or always false (contradictions) which often are the result of self referential structures, but for brevity's sake I will not exemplify these cases.

If we are content here, we can answer your question with no, there are at least three kinds of sentences: true, false, and nonsensical sentences. But let me add that we just looked at propositions, sentences that (claim to) make a statement about the world. Of course, the question could be rephrased, so that those special cases are excluded, and that we only look at propositions. But I argue that we would be missing an important perspective on language and therefore on philosophy if this constraint were applied.

In the Philosophical Investigations the later Wittgenstein claims that there are not only propositions, orders, and questions, but infinitely many kinds of sentences:

  1. Wieviele Arten der Sätze gibt es aber? Etwa Behauptung, Frage und Befehl? -- es gibt unzählige solcher Arten: [...]

He continues by listing many ways in which we communicate that deviate from the classical proposition that philosophers used to view as prototypical sentences:

[...] Führe dir die Mannigfaltigkeit der Sprachspiele an diesen Beispielen, und andern, vor Augen: [...] Theater spielen -- Reigen singen -- Rätsel raten -- Einen Witz machen; erzählen -- [...] Bitten, Danken, Fluchen, Grüßen, Beten.

These examples he lists include joking, cursing, greeting, praying. If you follow Wittgensteins thinking here (which I highly recommend to do) we see that not only are there more ways our language works than in making propositions, but that many other philosophical questions can be seen in a different light through the reevaluation of how language and meaning works, but that would be too far astray for this question.

  • Edited my question (2)
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 14:43
  • By your definition of tautology and contradiction you are from a math background and are specifically speaking g of Mathematical logic. Why is it that math people refuse to use the proper name of Mathematical logic instead of just LOGIC which comes across to many people as a logic is logic and all are the same thing.
    – Logikal
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 16:51
  • Haha, I am flattered that you consider me from a math background. I wish that were the case. The logic I wrote about in my answer is the logic Wittgenstein uses in direct response to Frege who in turn made the first significant additions to logic since Aristotle as could be argued. So, no, I am rather from a philosophy background and cannot answer your question about 'math people'. ;) Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 6:21

Well, we have to keep in mind that 'truth' is inherently conventional, so that utterances are only true or false within a given set of conventions. For instance, if I were to utter the phrase "I am a philosopher", how we respond to that statement depends on what we mean by 'being a philosopher':

  • If 'being a philosopher' means that I identify as a philosopher, then that may change it's truth value at my own personal whim
  • If 'being a philosopher' means that I do the activities of a philosopher, then that is dependent on what activities might be considered 'philosophical'.
  • If 'being a philosopher' means that others call me a philosopher, then that may change it's truth value at the whim of others.
  • Edited my question (2)
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 14:43
  • I believe you are confusing 'truth' (some referent to 'what is') with sincerity (authentic expression of belief). Philosophically speaking, sincerity is a given: even people who lie, lie with the understanding that a lie is the sincere and correct action to take at that moment. But that merely conflates the sincerity of the intention with the sincerity of the action. The fact that Donald Trump firmly believes that it is correct and proper to lie to people all the time does not make his statements true, right? Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 14:56
  • Just to take your example, you could only prove he is lying IFF, it is true that he is lying, so a lie has to come out of The Truth.
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 14:58

Adding as an answer because I can't comment yet. Another form of sentence that does not appear to have been mentioned yet is commands. A command such as:

Go away!

is not a declarative sentence and therefore is surely neither T nor F.

  • TY, but Read the description of the post...there is a shift.
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 14:02

I'm not a philosopher, but I disagree with both of your framings of those example sentences.

May I know your name?

in no way by itself implies that I don't know your name. That information is entirely contextual. I may be an audio engineer testing out a microphone. I may be practicing my pronunciation in a foreign language. I think what you are referring to is not truth or falsehood, per se, but the contextual difference between acting deceptively or not.

Also, in your characterization of the statement

This sentence is false

it sounds like you are referring to a similar "lack of any intention to deceive".

So maybe a better form of the question could be, is it possible to neither be honest, nor deceive. I don't know. Maybe a Liar's Paradox in this context could be constructed, where someone sincerely wishes to communicate to someone else that they always lie. If someone is honest but, incorrect does that count? But there are probably other examples.

Again, I'm not a philosopher, but I would bet that you could get into similar Godelian scenarios with honesty/dishonesty that you could with truth/falsehood. There are logic systems that contain things like belief as part of the logical framework, ie. I say X but I believe Y.

  • Edited my question (2)
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 14:43

Yes you can write a proposition that is neither true nor false. Let us assume that physical determinism is false, and the future is not determined.

Let P be a future proposition (in temporal logic).

If determinism is false, then P is neither true nor false, now.

Example : The electron E will take a value of spin down . , this sentence is probably neither true nor false (in quantum physics).

Another example : This Uranium atom will start its decay process next week.


If there is free will, then again : some future propositions are neither true nor false : "John will watch a movie tonight".

This proposition would be neither true nor false if John has free will.


If the proposition is self-referential, like : I am lying now , it is impossible for it to be true or false, since its truth results in its falsehood, and vice versa.

These are some of the examples I can think of now, there are others.



I'll try to add something to this from the field of semantics within linguistics. I'm not a semantics expert, so if anyone with more experience wants to correct me, please do. (This is also probably why this answer is so painfully syntax/grammaticalization-focused.)

First, I'll attempt to answer the question as posed for well-formed sentences.

There's actually a theory of semantics that tries to carry out this hypothesis, called truth-conditional semantics (this is actually the theory that I learned in class). It's implemented in a far subtler manner than your question frames, however.

In truth-conditional semantics, everything is a function from tuples of entities (people, places, things, ideas, truth values, abstract 137-dimensional entities, whatever) to truth values. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, everything:

  • Nouns are functions that map everything they describe to True, and everything else to False. For example, "sandwich" is a function that maps every thing you can call a "sandwich" to True, and everything else to False. Two pieces of bread with mayonnaise between them? If you want to call that a sandwich, the function denoted by "sandwich" maps to True for you. A drawing of a sandwich? If you want to call that a sandwich, that maps to True for you. A pop tart? If you want to call that a sandwich, you'll burn in hell for infinite infinities, but that maps to True for you.
  • Verbs that can take a direct or indirect object are the reason why the definition says "tuples of entities" rather than just "entities". For example, "removes" is a verb that maps triples (or pairs) of things to a truth value; "x removes y from z" returns a truth value that is only true when all of x, y, and z fit this situation. Therefore, the triple (a shovel, dirt, the ground) gets mapped to true, but (the ground, a shovel, dirt) does not.

(Wait, aren't nouns functions too?) (Yes. Functions can be applied to functions. Long story.)

And what about entire sentences? In both syntax and semantics, sentences can be written in a tree structure:

syntax tree

English comes with rules about how to compose each node from its children -- for example, the QP's value is the outcome of the function in the D node applied to the function in the NP node -- and the sentence's (the S node's) value is the outcome of the VP function applied to the QP function.

Since VPs return truth values, this means sentences *are* truth values.

What about questions and commands? A Google Scholar search was unfruitful, so I'm only speculating here. A common theory of syntax says that both are actually normal declarative sentences in disguise, with some transformations to make it into a question or command due to an invisible word influencing the sentence. This isn't really a complete answer; we don't know what that invisible word does with the truth condition.

As a very unsophisticated hypothesis, consider the following:

(1) I wonder if it will rain tomorrow.

(2) I wonder, will it rain tomorrow?

(3) *I wonder it will rain tomorrow.

In (1), "wonder" takes ("I", "if it will rain tomorrow") as its argument tuple. In (2), it takes ("I", "will it rain tomorrow?") as its argument tuple. This may be evidence that "will it rain tomorrow?" and "if it will rain tomorrow" have the same value, and neither of these values are truth conditions. Further supporting that questions and the if-clause in (1) aren't truth conditions, (3), where we plugged in a truth condition, is ungrammatical.

I can't come up with a similar example for commands. But, since the asker was asking about a statement about all sentences, it should be enough to show that some well-formed sentences don't have truth conditions as their values.

Next, I'll address some issues in your rebuttals to why questions are still truth values.

what I just uttered has come out of the truth hood which indicates that I don't know your name, so in this case, the sentence I uttered is a by product of the truth I have

Ooh, juicy, we're flipping straight from the most formal of semantics into pragmatics. The study of conversational implicatures takes care of this -- conversational implicatures are ideas that aren't directly implied by what you say (e.g. "X is a square" must always imply "X is a rectangle"), but rather by what you say if you're obeying certain social rules about conversation. I can totally ask someone "what is your name?" and already know their name; if I do, however, I'm either joking or being weird. As far as linguists studying the meaning of a sentence are concerned, that social consequence doesn't matter in determining the semantics of the sentence itself.

If in your own personal philosophical ventures, however, you would like to count that social consequence as a valid contributor to meaning, I would agree that everything that can ever be said has a truth value attached to it. These social rules about conversation are so well-ingrained in our ideas that we make legal decisions based off of them, and therefore, you can't say a single thing without implying other things that must have truth values about the situation in which you're saying them -- at the very least, the truth that it's appropriate to say the thing you say.

  • Edited my question (2)
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 14:43

tl;dr- Sentences are modes of communication, so they're not inherently true-or-false themselves. The idea(s) that someone might have upon seeing a sentence may be true, false, both, or neither in various contexts.

Sorry if this sounds super-pedantic, but people get confused about this stuff because they oversimplify things, then they get confused in the cases in which the over-simplifications don't work, and.. well, it's just a big mess. Being a little pedantic's better than being confused.

1: Sentences are about communication, not truth.

Sentences aren't true/false. Rather sentences are an attempt to communicate ideas.

Being pedantic about this 'cause it's necessary to avoid undue confusion.

2: Ideas can be true, false, neither, or both.

Ideas needn't be simply true or false, since they can be neither or both.


  1. True statement:

    1 + 1 = 2.

  2. False statement:

    1 + 1 = 3.

  3. Neither true-nor-false:

    This statement is false.

  4. Can be true-or-false:

    This statement is true.

3: It's possible to be true-or-false.

Regarding Example (4) from above,

  1. This statement is true.

we can:

  • interpret it as true, in which case its claim to be true is true, and therefore consistent;

  • interpret it as false, in which case its claim to be true is false, and therefore consistent.

4: Logical thought is about consistency.

If you're trying to think in a productive way, then your thoughts need to be consistent. So, if you see

  1. This statement is true.

, then you're free to interpret it as being true or false, as you like, in one context. You can then regard it as the opposite in another context, so long as the two don't get mixed up.

This is perfectly fine because, so long as you're consistent about your logic, your logic is consistent


  1. This statement is false.

is neither true-nor-false because it's not consistent to interpret it as false nor is it consistent to interpret it as true.

Conclusion: Sentences can be interpreted as true, false, neither, or either.

Point being, sentences are interpreted into ideas, which must be consistent, but needn't be context-independent. In particular, it's not always possible to consistently interpret statements as being true-or-false, while other statements can be consistently interpreted as either true-or-false, as desired.

In short, it's all about if a proposition can be consistently interpreted as true or/and false, not about if a proposition is itself true-or-false.

Tangential: Model-dependent realism is based on this.

Scientists typically understand the world in terms of model-dependent realism.

The gist's that we discuss reality in the context of some model, where what's real depends on the model-dependent context.


  1. Cows can be spherical in some contexts, but obviously not others.

  2. "Fictitious" forces can exist in some contexts, but not others.

  3. Entropy depends on model, e.g., as in this xkcd.

The point about model-dependent realism here is that what's "true" about "reality" varies by context, including its underlying models. So while the above answer mostly focused on examples with self-referential statements, other claims like

  1. Cows are spherical.

  2. A non-zero gravitational force exists.

  3. Entropy is 10 bits.

can be true, false, neither, or either.

  • Edited my question (2)
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 14:44
  • I've never seen a remotely useful model where holding "this statement is true" as false is done; but holding "this statement is true" as unknown turns out to be reasonable. But I'm not the downvoter.
    – Joshua
    Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 20:07
  • @Joshua We'd typically say that it's indeterminate. It's allowable to be bound to true or false, depending on context; indeterminates are bind-able, just not bound.
    – Nat
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 3:42

Here's a bunch of zen koans

Take this one: Can the moon be stolen

And convert it to a pair of complementary predicates :

The moon can be stolen
The moon cannot be stolen

Which will you choose?

Try a similar exercise for other koans

In Computer power and human reason Weizenbaum shows an insidious sequence.

  • Data – both the word as well as the fact – existed before computers.
    (Heck even computers existed before computers! For Turing a computer was a mathematician doing a computation)
  • Then when computers happened the management marshalling and corralling of data became an explosion
  • In this explosion the pre-computer data (eg handwritten) out of inconvenience became neglected.
  • Until – quite like today's deplorables are unpersonned – it was disappeared!

Likewise here.

The field of logic especially classical works best with bivalent statements – those for which the "value" {True, False} can be assigned

  • meaningfully
  • mutually exclusively
  • exhaustively

And little by little it becomes so top-heavy that all other statements become unstatemented!

As an antidote against this tendency I recommend the great buddhist logician Nagarjuna :

Everything is real and is not real,
Both real and not real,
Neither real nor not real.
This is Lord Buddha's teaching.

More light-heartedly my Dad would tell this joke of the math teacher who had to fill in for the literature one The poem the class was assigned was Tennyson's Charge of the light brigade

Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

And each boy would be stopped by the teacher: Wrong! Next!!

Finally exasperated he shouted:

Don't you know that ½ + ½ + ½ is 1½?


The question is only relevant to assertoric sentences: The sky is blue.

Most assertions about the material world are irredeemably false. For example:

There is a red flower.

We would say this on the basis of our subjective experience of the perception we think we have of what we think of as our material environment.

We could make true assertions by talking not about the material world but about our subjective impressions that we normally mistake for the material world:

I have the impression that there is a red flower.

We don't need assertoric sentences to be true, though. We need to be able to agree about them. People who disagree about the truth of some assertoric sentence cannot cooperate on this basis.

People will be able to agree on the sentence "There is a red flower" if they could all use the sentence "There is a red flower" to describe their own subjective impression of the same material thing, if any. We don't even need to all have the same impression and we couldn't even verify that we do.

And, broadly, this natural process seems to work and we sort of understand why it can work.

Our notion of truth, together with our notion of knowledge, and indeed a range of terms related to them, are essentially meaningful and convenient simplifications. People just talk as if they knew there was a red flower, even if in effect they don't. They do it because they all come to believe from experience that it works more often than not. And when it doesn't work, we can live with a little bruising to our reputation and ego.

The notion of truth is meaningful because we can use it truthfully talking about our own subjective experience. I can say truthfully "I am in pain" whenever I have the impression that I am in pain, because the impression of pain is pain itself. I can talk truthfully of my impression of a red flower whenever I have an impression of a red flower.

We will therefore use our meaningful notion of truth to talk falsely about the material world, but then what matters is that different people mean the same thing when talking of a red flower.

And presumably, by and large, we can do that.

  • Edited my question (2)
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 14:44

You are talking about the law of the excluded middle, and there are various criticisms of it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_excluded_middle#Criticisms

It is interesting to contrast the assumption of this law, to the catuskoti of Indian logic https://aeon.co/essays/the-logic-of-buddhist-philosophy-goes-beyond-simple-truth

Ordinary human language is incredibly complex. Logic and mathematics in geberal, involves taking precise defined abstractions, which can have precise defined relationships. Within a certain logical system and set of definitions, it's possible for the law of the excluded middle to hold. But Godel showed in his incompleteness theorems, that at quite an elementary level of complexity, systems of logic have the capacity to say things which seem self-evidently true but cannot be proved true, that these are inevitable.


“Coke is better than Pepsi” and zillions of similar expressions of opinion are neither true nor false. One can define “better” to make it true, to make it false, or to make it continue to be neither.

  • Please read the description of this post before commenting.
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 5:35
  • I read the treatise and all the answers. The question was “is every sentence …”. Surely it doesn’t take much imagination to see that my answer is “no”
    – WGroleau
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 13:10
  • you have not read the description....there is a shift.
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 14:01
  • You might believe that I did not understand it, but accusing me of lying is inappropriate. I certainly did read the verbose attempt to persuade us that “everything comes from truth” but it is still the case that I answered the question that preceded all that nonsense.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 1:45
  • "You might believe that I did not understand it" >> No, I THINK you didn't read....." but accusing me of lying is inappropriate" >> I have NOT BEEN DOING anything about you.................." I certainly did read the verbose attempt to persuade" >> it is NOT AN ATTEMPT . What I posted is the result of my meditation..........."but it is still the case that I answered the question" >> Your answer DID NOT ADD ANY VALUE, because you have not read the description to understand what is the ask.............The more I look at your comment the more I think you are deluded .
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 5:31

As many people have answered already all sentences do not Express something true or false. The fact you ask this question raises a problem: you very very likely were told, you heard or you read some where that propositions are sentences the are true or false. This is objectively false. In my experience this "a proposition is a sentence that is either true or false" is FREQUENTLY TAUGHT in subjects outside of Philosophy departments (i.e., mathematics, rhetoric psychology, grammar, computer science, etc). To be more descriptive about which sentences can be true or false, there is only a certain type of sentence that can express a proposition. The only type of sentence --by definition of English grammar-- we know can Express a proposition is a literally meaningful declarative sentence. We can't use interrogate sentences, exclamatory sentences, imperative sentences, etc. It is typically the MATH people that harp on about propositions being sentences and teach this to a multitude of people. I can tell you early philosophy did not use that context for the same word found on alleged logic courses. Math as notoriously changed things and people learning the same concepts are unaware there are other meanings to these same "logic" words.

I used the phrase meaningful declarative sentence above because this is a requirement. Well what does the phrase literally meaningful mean? Well if I spoke about my pet unicorn that likes vanilla ice cream how would you take it? Is my statement true or false? Is my statement qualified to be a proposition? NO! I can confidently say the claim is NOT TRUE-- but this untruth does not automatically default to FALSE. The statement is meaningless as there are no unicorns.

All literally meaningful declarative sentences must Express a condition where we can ask is it true or false. We know this because if there is a literal description that means we can sense verify the claim. After all this is what existential import is about. I can't say some unicorns are white animals. The Mathematical community threw a fit about unicorns. There are no unicorns we can sense verify. So now people say the quantifier ALL does not necessarily mean SOME are. I cant meaningfully say anything literal about unicorns. The same way I can't say Superman (the one identical to the DC Comics character) is my cousin. The Mathematical community threw such a fit that the traditional square of opposition was modified! In the BOOLEAN Square of Opposition the only relationship that holds is the contradictory relationship.

A proposition is a mental concept --NOT a literal sentence. Propositions are EXPRESSED to human beings by literal meaningful declarative sentences. These sentences specifically mean there is only and exactlyONE truth value. The truth value cannot be void, unknown, etc. The truth value must be one of the following: true or false [But NOT both true) & (NOT both false) in the same time, location and the same contextual meaning]. Math and science people are particularly fond of missing the last part of about the same time, location and context about propositions. Propositions can also Express the same idea using different words or even a distinct language. The same idea "it is raining" can be expressed in more than one language. Do we count each declarative sentence in each language we use as ANOTHER proposition? Well if you define proposition poorly one is forced to count each declarative sentence in each language as a higher count in number ( such as 1,2,3,4,etc). So It is raining in English is one, Spanish is another, German another one and so on. This is silly. It does not matter what you say what matters is the intent of your communication. "It is raining" expresses a condition we can sense verify regardless which language I use to communicate it to you. So even if 100 languages has a way to express the proposition "it is raining" only one proposition is present. it is the SAME PROPOSITION-- not 100 different propositions --no matter how many times you repeat the claim. The truth value of a proposition doesn't change if you change the language you are communicating with. [I used the it is raining example not to show what a proposition is but used that example because it is frequently used to demonstrate why sentences are not propositions in many texts].

Lastly, Propositions are supposed to be clear, descriptive and precise as much as possible. Ambiguous language is to be avoided. Using the same word in various context should be avoided. Sentences ending in adjectives or adverbs should be avoided. But yet I see countless people violating this rule. In this way almost anything to one people is a proposition. For instance sentences like all cats are scratchers; all loan sharks are mean, some lemon candies are bitter, all amazons are tall, it is raining, etc. This becomes a realistic problem because outside of a math classroom human beings in the real world can be deceitful and change the story mid argument. "No that is not what I said . . . ", "well what I meant was . . ." And so on. Without a clear and descriptive noun or noun clause you should expect humans to attempt the switcheroo of the original proposition stated. Once you are clear and descriptive with nouns it is hard to cover your attempt to change your story and deceive others un arguments. I take the study of Aristotelian logic to be a way to combat deceitful reasoning. Mathematical logic was not invented to deal with deception. There are no paradoxes that meet the criteria of legit propositions as I have just described. The reason there are paradoxes is because there is a shady person intentionally being decietful using adjectives or adverbs that are NOT CLEAR or precise in meaning. The person is intentionally withholding relevant information for a rational person to decide. To clear up any ambiguity add more descriptive information. The more information the easier it is to judge if the claim is true or false. Not enough information is ever given in a paradox. That is the magic trick of a paradox. The minute we get more specific or precise information the paradox magically goes away.

  • Edited my question (2)
    – RaGa__M
    Commented Sep 7, 2019 at 14:44

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