The Open UniversitySkip to content

The cognitivist account of meaning and the liar paradox

Pinder, Mark (2015). The cognitivist account of meaning and the liar paradox. Philosophical Studies, 172(5) pp. 1221–1242.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (417kB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


A number of theorists hold that literal, linguistic meaning is determined by the cognitive mechanism that underpins semantic competence. Borg and Larson and Segal defend a version of the view on which semantic competence is underpinned by the cognition of a truth-conditional semantic theory—a semantic theory which is true. Let us call this view the “cognitivist account of meaning”. In this paper, I discuss a surprisingly serious difficulty that the cognitivist account of meaning faces in light of the liar paradox. I raise an argument to the effect that, in light of linguistic evidence concerning the liar paradox, the cognised semantic theory is inconsistent. This contradicts the cognitivist account. I consider a range of possible responses to the difficulty, raising problems for each. The liar paradox poses a serious difficulty to the cognitivist account of meaning, and it is unclear whether the difficulty can be resolved.

Item Type: Journal Item
ISSN: 1573-0883
Keywords: cognitivism; meaning; Liar Paradox; truth condition; semantics; inconsistency
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies > Philosophy
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 56635
Depositing User: Mark Pinder
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2018 10:20
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2019 17:45
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU