Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxvii
  2. Michael Huemer
    Pages 1-14
  3. Semantic Paradoxes

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 15-15
    2. Michael Huemer
      Pages 17-44
    3. Michael Huemer
      Pages 45-88
  4. Paradoxes of Rational Choice

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 89-89
    2. Michael Huemer
      Pages 91-106
    3. Michael Huemer
      Pages 107-132
    4. Michael Huemer
      Pages 133-147
    5. Michael Huemer
      Pages 149-158
  5. Paradoxes of Probability

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 159-159
    2. Michael Huemer
      Pages 161-202
    3. Michael Huemer
      Pages 203-207
    4. Michael Huemer
      Pages 209-218
    5. Michael Huemer
      Pages 219-243
    6. Michael Huemer
      Pages 245-253
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 255-260

About this book


Paradox Lost covers ten of philosophy’s most fascinating paradoxes, in which seemingly compelling reasoning leads to absurd conclusions. The following paradoxes are included: 

  • The Liar Paradox, in which a sentence says of itself that it is false. Is the sentence true or false?
  • The Sorites Paradox, in which we imagine removing grains of sand one at a time from a heap of sand. Is there a particular grain whose removal converts the heap to a non-heap?
  • The Puzzle of the Self-Torturer, in which a series of seemingly rational choices has us accepting a life of excruciating pain, in exchange for millions of dollars.
  • Newcomb’s Problem, in which we seemingly maximize our expected profit by taking an unknown sum of money, rather than taking the same sum plus $1000.
  • The Surprise Quiz Paradox, in which a professor finds that it is impossible to give a surprise quiz on any particular day of the week . . . but also that if this is so, then a surprise quiz can be given on any day.
  • The Two Envelope Paradox, in which we are asked to choose between two indistinguishable envelopes, and it is seemingly shown that each envelope is preferable to the other.
  • The Ravens Paradox, in which observing a purple shoe provides evidence that all ravens are black.
  • The Shooting Room Paradox, in which a deadly game kills 90% of all who play, yet each individual’s survival turns on the flip of a fair coin.

Each paradox is clearly described, common mistakes are explored, and a clear, logical solution offered. Paradox Lost will appeal to professional philosophers, students of philosophy, and all who love intellectual puzzles.


paradoxes logic reasoning semantics Sorites Newcomb intellectual puzzle

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulder, COUSA

About the authors

Michael Huemer is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. He is the author of four other bestselling philosophy books, including The Problem of Political Authority, the winner of the 2013 PROSE Award for philosophy.

Bibliographic information


“This is an engaging introduction to a number of paradoxes of interest to philosophers. Michael Huemer develops his own solutions and, along the way, offers original insights into the nature of paradox and how we should go about devising solutions. The book will be valued by beginners and established scholars alike.” (Simon Hewitt, Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Leeds, UK)