Truth, Pretense and the Liar Paradox

In Kentaro Fujimoto, José Martínez Fernández, Henri Galinon & Theodora Achourioti (eds.), Unifying the Philosophy of Truth. Springer Verlag. pp. 339-354 (2015)

Abstract

In this paper we explain our pretense account of truth-talk and apply it in a diagnosis and treatment of the Liar Paradox. We begin by assuming that some form of deflationism is the correct approach to the topic of truth. We then briefly motivate the idea that all T-deflationists should endorse a fictionalist view of truth-talk, and, after distinguishing pretense-involving fictionalism (PIF) from error- theoretic fictionalism (ETF), explain the merits of the former over the latter. After presenting the basic framework of our PIF account of truth-talk, we demonstrate a few advantages it offers over T-deflationist accounts that do not explicitly acknowledge pretense at work in the discourse. In turning to the Liar Paradox, we explain how the quasi-anaphoric functioning that our account attributes to truth-talk provides a diagnosis of the Liar Paradox (and other instances of semantic pathology) as having no content—in the sense of not specifying any of what we call M-conditions. At the same time, however, we vindicate the intuition that we can understand liar sentences, thereby avoiding one standard objection to “meaningless strategy” responses to the Liar Paradox. With this diagnosis in place, we then, by way of treatment, introduce a new predicate, ‘semantically defective’, and show how the explanation we give for its application allows for a consistent, yet revenge-immune, (dis)solution of the Liar Paradox, and semantic pathology generally.

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Author Profiles

Bradley Armour-Garb
State University of New York, Albany
James Woodbridge
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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