The liar in context

Philosophical Studies 103 (3):217 - 251 (2001)
Abstract
About twenty-five years ago, Charles Parsons published a paper that began by asking why we still discuss the Liar Paradox. Today, the question seems all the more apt. In the ensuing years we have seen not only Parsons’ work (1974), but seminal work of Saul Kripke (1975), and a huge number of other important papers. Too many to list. Surely, one of them must have solved it! In a way, most of them have. Most papers on the Liar Paradox offer some explanation of the behavior of paradoxical sentences, and most also offer some extension for the predicate ‘true’ that they think is adequate, at least in some restricted setting. But if this is a solution, then the problem we face is far from a lack of solutions; rather, we have an overabundance of conflicting ones. Kripke’s work alone provides us with uncountably many different extensions for the truth predicate. Even if it so happens that one of these is a conclusive solution, we do not seem to know which one, or why. We should also ask, given that we are faced with many technically elegant but contradictory views, if they are really all addressing the same problem. What we lack is not solutions, but a way to compare and evaluate the many ones we have.
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