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A theory proposed by B. Russell that rules out self-reference in order to prevent the emergence of antinomies and paradoxes in logic. It states that a class is of a logical type higher (see ordinality) than its members and, because logical types must not be confused, no class can contain itself as a member. E.g., the law of the excluded middle which states that propositions can be either true or false is a proposition and should therefore be either true or false. But because it can only be true (else it would not be a law), it defies its own claim. Russell's solution is that the law is a proposition about propositions and must not be confused with the propositions to which it refers (see meta-). According to the theory, self-referential statements are neither true nor false but meaningless. The theory has been influential in linguistics by recognizing the importance of logical as well as grammatical restrictions on the combinations of words (see language). It provided support on attacks on logical positivism, especially on its verification principle and has inspired inquiries into communication pathologies that arise from the confusion among logical types, e.g., of content and relationship aspects of communications (see double bind). However, by exorcising self-reference, the theory of logical types bas retarded the development of theory, largely cognitive theory, in areas where self-reference is prevalent. With its focus on circularity cybernetics has transcended the theory and essentially solved the problem's self-reference originally posed. (Krippendorff)
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