Paradox, Repetition and Revenge

Keith Simmons

18 Jan 2013, 4pm-6pm, FS 216

There are paradoxes of reference (Richard, Berry, KÓ§nig), paradoxes of predication (Russell), and paradoxes of truth (the Liar). I argue that there is a phenomenon that cuts across all of these semantic paradoxes: given a paradoxical expression, we can produce an expression composed of the very same words that is not defective, but instead has a definite semantic value. Call this phenomenon Repetition. I critically examine Kripke’s and Field’s responses to Repetition in the case of truth. I suggest an alternative response – a contextual account according to which our semantic concepts apply everywhere except for certain ‘singular points’. Now any account of the semantic paradoxes is vulnerable to ‘revenge’: new forms of the Liar that the account cannot handle. Repetition is one manifestation of revenge, and I go on to consider revenge more broadly. I argue that even dialetheism — according to which there are true contradictions — is subject to revenge. And I suggest a way we might approach revenge along singularity lines.