Circularity, Truth, and the Liar Paradox

Dissertation, Indiana University (1993)
This dissertation is a study of some recent theories of truth. The theories fall into three groups: The Revision Theories, the context-sensitive theories, and the "Chrysippian theories". ;The "Chrysippian theories" are based on the intuition that pathologicalities arising from the concept of truth can be recognized and acknowledged with the concept of truth itself. Thus, from the pathologicality of the Liar, for example, we can conclude that the Liar is not true. This leads to immediate difficulties since the Liar claims just that--that it is not true--and it would thus seem to be true. The Chrysippian theories are designed to avoid these difficulties while preserving the motivating intuition. Haim Gaifman's Pointer Semantics, and Brian Skyrms' Intensional Fixed-Point Theory of Truth are examples of such theories. They are exposited and criticized. ;The context-sensitive theories dealt with are Tyler Burge's Indexical Theory of Truth and the theory of Jon Barwise and John Etchemendy. These theories claim that an ambiguity due to a contextual parameter is the reason for the difficulties we encounter. Burge offers a theory of Tarskian levels coupled with a pragmatic theory that explains the assignment of levels to occurrences of 'true'. Barwise and Etchemendy make explicit a situational parameter in their account of propositions. They consider the ambiguity with respect to the situation a propositions is about a main source of the paradoxes. ;Finally, the Revision Theories of Truth of Anil Gupta and Nuel Belnap and two variations of this theory are considered. One is due to Aladdin Yaqub, the other, the "fully-varied theory", is due to Gupta and Belnap but remains largely unexplored. Revision theories are put forward as the most promising account of the difficulties. They are based on a definitional reading of all Tarski biconditionals. The circularity implied by such a reading is handled by Gupta's and Belnap's general theory of definitions. ;Yaqub's objections raised against the standard theory are examined, and his proposed solution is shown to be inadequate. The fully-varied Revision Theory is shown to provide a better solution.
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