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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the major contextual theories of truth and paradox. These theories are all motivated by a certain kind of liar discourse, sometimes called the strengthened liar or revenge liar. A contextual framework for the analysis of this kind of discourse is presented, drawing on Stalnaker’s and Lewis’s—and others’—work on context-change. The various contextual theories of truth differ in their specific treatments of revenge discourses. According to Burge’s hierarchical theory and Simmons’s non-hierarchical singularity theory, the predicate “true” is a context-sensitive predicate. According to the hierarchical approaches of Parsons and Glanzberg, the context-dependence of truth is derived from the context-dependence of quantifier domains, while for Barwise and Etchemendy, it is situations that may expand with the context. Any approach to the liar faces the threat of new paradoxes tailored to that approach, and these contextual theories are no exception. Challenges to these contextual theories are examined.

Keywords: truth, context, context-dependence, liar, paradox, revenge, hierarchy, singularity, quantifier-domain, situation

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