Introduction to the Semantic Paradoxes


In this essay (for undergraduates) I introduce three of the famous semantic paradoxes: the Liar, Grelling’s, and the No-No. Collectively, they seem to show that the notion of truth is highly paradoxical, perhaps even contradictory. They seem to show that the concept of truth is a bit akin to the concept of a married bachelor—it just makes no sense at all. But in order to really understand those paradoxes one needs to be very comfortable thinking about how lots of interesting sentences talk about not dogs or cats or elections or baseball but sentences. That is, we need to get familiar analyzing sentences that talk about sentences.

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