Where the paths meet: Remarks on truth and paradox

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 32 (1):169-198 (2008)
The study of truth is often seen as running on two separate paths: the nature path and the logic path. The former concerns metaphysical questions about the ‘nature’, if any, of truth. The latter concerns itself largely with logic, particularly logical issues arising from the truth-theoretic paradoxes. Where, if at all, do these two paths meet? It may seem, and it is all too often assumed, that they do not meet, or at best touch in only incidental ways. It is often assumed that work on the metaphysics of truth need not pay much attention to issues of paradox and logic; and it is likewise assumed that work on paradox is independent of the larger issues of metaphysics. Philosophical work on truth often includes a footnote anticipating some resolution of the paradox, but otherwise tends to take no note of it. Likewise, logical work on truth tends to have little to say about metaphysical presuppositions, and simply articulates formal theories, whose strength may be measured, and whose properties may be discussed. In practice, the paths go their own ways. Our aim in this paper is somewhat modest. We seek to illustrate one point of intersection between the paths. Even so, our aim is not completely modest, as the point of intersection is a notable one that often goes unnoticed. We argue that the ‘nature’ path impacts the logic path in a fairly direct way. What one can and must say about the logic of truth is influenced, or even in some cases determined, by what one says about the metaphysical nature of truth. In particular, when it comes to saying what the well-known Liar paradox teaches us about truth, background conceptions — views on ‘nature’ — play a significant role in constraining what can be said. This paper, in rough outline, first sets out some representative ‘nature’ views, followed by the ‘logic’ issues (viz., paradox), and turns to responses to the Liar paradox. What we hope to illustrate is the fairly direct way in which the background ‘nature’ views constrain — if not dictate — responses to the main problem on the ‘logic’ path..
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DOI 10.1111/j.1475-4975.2008.00171.x
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Jon Barwise & John Perry (1981). Situations and Attitudes. Journal of Philosophy 78 (11):668-691.

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Patrick Allo (2010). A Classical Prejudice? Knowledge, Technology & Policy 23 (1-2):25-40.

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