Against stepping back: A critique of contextualist approaches to the semantic paradoxes

Journal of Philosophical Logic 35 (4):393 - 422 (2006)
Abstract
A number of philosophers have argued that the key to understanding the semantic paradoxes is to recognize that truth is essentially relative to context. All of these philosophers have been motivated by the idea that once a liar sentence has been uttered we can 'step back' and, from the point of view of a different context, judge that the liar sentence is true. This paper argues that this 'stepping back' idea is a mistake that results from failing to relativize truth to context in the first place. Moreover, context-relative liar sentences, such as 'This sentence is not true in any context' present a paradox even after truth has been relativized to context. Nonetheless, the relativization of truth to context may offer us the means to avoid paradox, if we can justifiably deny that a sentence about a context can be true in the very context it is about
Keywords liar paradox  truth  context
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