How to find an attractive solution to the liar paradox
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The general thesis of this paper is that metasemantic theories can play a central role in determining the correct solution to the liar paradox. I argue for the thesis by providing a specific example. I show how Lewis’s reference-magnetic metasemantic theory may decide between two of the most influential solutions to the liar paradox: Kripke’s minimal fixed point theory of truth and Gupta and Belnap’s revision theory of truth. In particular, I suggest that Lewis’s metasemantic theory favours Kripke’s solution to the paradox over Gupta and Belnap’s. I then sketch how other standard criteria for assessing solutions to the liar paradox, such as whether a solution faces a so-called revenge paradox, fit into this picture. While the discussion of the specific example is itself important, the underlying lesson is that we have an unused strategy for resolving one of the hardest problems in philosophy.
KeywordsLiar paradox Truth Metasemantics Magnetism Lewis Complexity
I would like to thank Emma Borg, Benedict Eastaugh, Anthony Everett, Øystein Linnebo, Samir Okasha and a number of referees for this and other journals for helpful discussion and comments. This paper evolved from my PhD research, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), and was written while I was in receipt of the Analysis Studentship. I gratefully acknowledge the AHRC and the Analysis Trust for their support.
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