{-# OPTIONS --type-in-type #-}
open import 1Lab.Path
open import 1Lab.Type

module 1Lab.Counterexamples.Russell where


This page reproduces Russell’s paradox from naïve set theory using an inductive type of Type-indexed trees. By default, Agda places the type Type₀ in Type₁, meaning the definition of V below would not be accepted. The --type-in-type flag disables this check, meaning the definition goes through.

data V : Type where
set : (A : Type) → (A → V) → V


The names V and set are meant to evoke the cumulative hierarchy of sets. A ZF set is merely a particular type of tree, so we can represent the cumulative hierarchy as a particular type of trees - one where the branching factor of a node is given by a type A.

We define the membership predicate _∈_ by pattern matching, using the path type _≡_:

_∈_ : V → V → Type
x ∈ set A f = Σ A λ i → f i ≡ x


A set x is an element of some other set if there exists an element of the index type which the indexing function maps to x. As an example, we have the empty set:

Ø : V
Ø = set ⊥ absurd

X∉Ø : {X : V} → ¬ X ∈ Ø
X∉Ø ()


Given the _∈_ predicate, and the fact that we can quantify over all of V and still stay in Type₀, we can make the set of all sets that do not contain themselves:

R : V
R = set (Σ _ λ x → ¬ x ∈ x) fst


If X is an element of R, then it does not contain itself:

X∈R→X∉X : {X : V} → X ∈ R → ¬ X ∈ X
X∈R→X∉X ((I , I∉I) , prf) elem =
let I∈I : I ∈ I
I∈I = subst (λ x → x ∈ x) (sym prf) elem
in I∉I I∈I


Using a diagonal argument, we can show that R does not contain itself:

R∉R : ¬ R ∈ R
R∉R R∈R = X∈R→X∉X R∈R R∈R


And every set that doesn’t contain itself is an element of R:

X∉X→X∈R : {X : V} → ¬ X ∈ X → X ∈ R
X∉X→X∈R X∉X = (_ , X∉X) , refl


Russell : ⊥