Not Wanted: On Scharp's Solution to the Liar

Pinder, Mark (2019). Not Wanted: On Scharp's Solution to the Liar. Erkenntnis (Early access).



Kevin Scharp argues that the concept of truth is defective, and is therefore unable to play its intended role in natural language truth-conditional semantics. As such, for this theoretical purpose, Scharp constructs two replacements: ascending truth and descending truth. Scharp applies the resultant theory, AD semantics, to the liar sentence, thereby obtaining a novel solution to the liar paradox. The aim of the present paper is fourfold. First, I show that, contrary to Scharp’s claims, AD semantics in fact yields an inconsistency when applied to standard liar sentences. Second, I diagnose the problem: AD semantics mishandles negation. I propose an alternative treatment, resulting in what I call AD* semantics. Third, I show that AD* semantics gives Scharp the resources required to respond to an alleged revenge paradox that has been raised against his view. Finally, I argue that, these consequences notwithstanding, it remains unclear whether AD* semantics provides an adequate account of alethic paradoxes more generally.

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