FOM: Re: New solution to the Liar paradox

charles silver silver_1 at
Sat Dec 8 09:35:28 EST 2001

Till Mossakowski  wrote:
> A new solution to the Liar paradox has been
> worked out in the PhD thesis of Andreas Beck

    I've looked at the work, and it does indeed look impressive.   However,
in my opinion, there is no "solution" to the Liar paradox, simply because
it's not a "paradox" at all.   What's more puzzling to me than than The Liar
sentence itself is the persistent attention it has gotten over the years and
still gets. I wrote a paper attempting to analyze this puzzle; that is, the
puzzle why people see the sentence as paradoxical.   The paper begins:

O Stranger: Philetas of Cos am I

'Twas the Liar who made me die,

And the bad nights caused thereby.

            The epitaph was Philetas's idea.  He wanted everyone to know how
hard he struggled with the Liar and that it eventually destroyed him.
Perhaps his account of his death at the hands of the Liar seems exaggerated,
but apparently there's some truth to it. His contemporaries described him as
growing more and more feeble with each passing day, until he eventually
succumbed to sheer constitutional fragility.  However exaggerated this may
seem, it isn't an exaggeration to say that philosophers to the present day
still puzzle over the Liar and still lie awake nights pondering its
mysteries.  This paper attempts to dispel or at least weaken the mystery
surrounding this potentially fatal paradox.


    Alas, there turned out to be a "fatal" error in my own analysis (called
to my attention by Torkel Franzen), and thus I was not able to mount a
convincing argument showing The Liar not to be paradoxical at all.   Thus, I
am left simply with my opinion....

Charlie Silver

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