Language, truth, and the Liar

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Susan Haack, Committee Chair


This work is a critical examination of the Liar paradox. My goal is to provide an understanding of the nature of the Liar, and to propose a workable solution. My account shows that we have to articulate carefully what a proposition states. Some of the claims a proposition is making are explicit, and some are implicit. In nonproblematic cases, there is compatibility between the implicit and the explicit claims. This is not what happens with paradoxical propositions. A paradoxical proposition is a proposition---more specifically, is an oristic proposition---that makes two claims that are incompatible, and as a result, the proposition turns out to be false. We cannot only rely only on what the Liar appears to say: things might not be as first appearances suggest. The Liar does not say just what it appears to, but it says much more.Chapter I is concerned with presenting the earliest formulations of the paradox. Chapter II focuses on the medieval insolubilia, presents John Buridan's solutions and examines more closely the two solutions that Buridan took seriously, one of which will provide an important element of my own, "laconicist," solution. Laconicism is based on Ramsey's account of truth, and is a version of deflationism. Chapter III is a critical examination, and clarification of deflationism. Chapter V presents the laconicist response to the Liar and its relatives.



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