There is a proposal to change the rendering of footway and path so that they basically look the same in the default OSM rendering.
I fully support this.
Perhaps, this is the best way that widely used, but confusing and redundant tags such path/footway are rationalized. Basically, give up, declare them synonyms, and render based on dependent/sub tags. Our limited energy can be used on better tags such as surface, designated, access, foot, pet, etc to describe this thing you can walk on in more detail.