How to ﬁnd an attractive solution to the liar paradox
Published online: 20 May 2017
Ó Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017
Abstract The general thesis of this paper is that metasemantic theories can play a
central role in determining the correct solution to the liar paradox. I argue for the
thesis by providing a speciﬁc example. I show how Lewis’s reference-magnetic
metasemantic theory may decide between two of the most inﬂuential solutions to
the liar paradox: Kripke’s minimal ﬁxed point theory of truth and Gupta and Bel-
nap’s revision theory of truth. In particular, I suggest that Lewis’s metasemantic
theory favours Kripke’s solution to the paradox over Gupta and Belnap’s. I then
sketch how other standard criteria for assessing solutions to the liar paradox, such as
whether a solution faces a so-called revenge paradox, ﬁt into this picture. While the
discussion of the speciﬁc example is itself important, the underlying lesson is that
we have an unused strategy for resolving one of the hardest problems in philosophy.
Keywords Liar paradox Á Truth Á Metasemantics Á Magnetism Á Lewis Á Complexity
Metasemantic theories can play a central role in determining the correct solution to
the liar paradox.
That is a bald statement of the general thesis that I defend in this paper. The
consequences are important: there are vast numbers of conﬂicting solutions to the
liar paradox in the literature, and new objective measures are needed to help us
determine which (if any) is correct. Metasemantic theories—that is, theories that
explain what ﬁxes or determines the semantic values of words, complex expressions
and sentences—provide such a measure.
The defence of the general thesis is indirect: I provide a speciﬁc example of how
a metasemantic theory can help to determine the correct solution to the liar paradox.
& Mark Pinder
Department of Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, UK
Philos Stud (2018) 175:1661–1680