Theory and Decision

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 179–217 | Cite as

On inference from inconsistent premisses

  • Nicholas Rescher
  • Ruth Manor


The main object of this paper is to provide the logical machinery needed for a viable basis for talking of the ‘consequences’, the ‘content’, or of ‘equivalences’ between inconsistent sets of premisses.

With reference to its maximal consistent subsets (m.c.s.), two kinds of ‘consequences’ of a propositional set S are defined. A proposition P is a weak consequence (W-consequence) of S if it is a logical consequence of at least one m.c.s. of S, and P is an inevitable consequence (I-consequence) of S if it is a logical consequence of all the m.c.s. of S. The set of W-consequences of a set S it determines (up to logical equivalence) its m.c.s. (This enables us to define a normal form for every set such that any two sets having the same W-consequences have the same normal form.) The W-consequences and I-consequences will not do to define the ‘content’ of a set S. The first is too broad, may include propositions mutually inconsistent, the second is too narrow. A via media between these concepts is accordingly defined: P is a P-consequence of S, where P is some preference criterion yielding some of the m.c.s. of S as preferred to others, and P is a consequence of all of the P-preferred m.c.s. of S. The bulk of the paper is devoted to discussion of various preference criteria, and also surveys the application of this machinery in diverse contexts - for example, in connection with the processing of mutually inconsistent reports.


Normal Form Weak Consequence Logical Consequence Inevitable Consequence Preference Criterion 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Rescher
  • Ruth Manor

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