The Elimination of Self-Reference: Generalized Yablo-Series and the Theory of Truth
Although it was traditionally thought that self-reference is a crucial ingredient of semantic paradoxes, Yablo (1993, 2004) showed that this was not so by displaying an infinite series of sentences none of which is self-referential but which, taken together, are paradoxical. Yablo’s paradox consists of a countable series of linearly ordered sentences s(0), s(1), s(2),... , where each s(i) says: For each k >i, s(k) is false (or equivalently: For no k >i is s(k) true). We generalize Yablo’s results along two dimensions. First, we study the behavior of generalized Yablo-series in which each sentence s(i) has the form: For Q k >i, s(k) is true, where Q is a generalized quantifier (e.g., no, every, infinitely many, etc). We show that under broad conditions all the sentences in the series must have the same truth value, and we derive a characterization of those values of Q for which the series is paradoxical. Second, we show that in the Strong Kleene trivalent logic Yablo’s results are a special case of a more general fact: under certain conditions, any semantic phenomenon that involves self-reference can be emulated without self-reference. Various translation procedures that eliminate self-reference from a non-quantificational language are defined and characterized. An Appendix sketches an extension to quantificational languages, as well as a new argument that Yablo’s paradox and the translations we offer do not involve self-reference.
Key WordsKripke’s theory of truth paradox self-reference strong Kleene logic truth Yablo’s paradox
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