For Quine, a paradox is an apparently successful argument having as its conclusion a statement or proposition that seems obviously false or absurd. That conclusion he calls the proposition of the paradox in question. What is paradoxical is of course that if the argument is indeed successful as it seems to be, its conclusion must be true. On this view, to resolve the paradox is (1) to show either that (and why) despite appearances the conclusion is true after all, or that the argument is fallacious, and (2) if the former, to explain away the deceptive appearances. Quine divides paradoxes into three groups. A veridical paradox is one whose proposition or conclusion is in fact true despite its air of absurdity. We decide that a paradox is veridical when we look carefully at the argument and it convinces us, i.e., it manages to show us how it is that the conclusion is true after all and appearances to the contrary were misleading. Quine’s two main examples of this are the puzzle of Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance (who has reachError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMapError: Illegal entry in bfrange block in ToUnicode CMaped the age of twenty-one after passing only five birthdays), and the Barber Paradox, which Quine considers simply a sound proof that there can be no such barber as is described.1 A falsidical paradox is one whose proposition or conclusion is indeed obviously false or self-contradictory, but which contains a fallacy that is detectably responsible for delivering the absurd conclusion. We decide that a paradox is falsidical when we look carefully at the argument and spot the fallacy. Quine’s leading example here is De Morgan’s trick argument for the proposition that 2 = 1.
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