Epistemicism and the Liar

Synthese 192 (3):679-699 (2015)
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One well known approach to the soritical paradoxes is epistemicism, the view that propositions involving vague notions have definite truth values, though it is impossible in principle to know what they are. Recently, Paul Horwich has extended this approach to the liar paradox, arguing that the liar proposition has a truth value, though it is impossible to know which one it is. The main virtue of the epistemicist approach is that it need not reject classical logic, and in particular the unrestricted acceptance of the principle of bivalence and law of excluded middle. Regardless of its success in solving the soritical paradoxes, the epistemicist approach faces a number of independent objections when it is applied to the liar paradox. I argue that the approach does not offer a satisfying, stable response to the paradoxes—not in general, and not for a minimalist about truth like Horwich.

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Jamin Asay
Purdue University


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