Not Wanted: On Scharp's Solution to the Liar

Pinder, Mark (2021). Not Wanted: On Scharp's Solution to the Liar. Erkenntnis, 86 pp. 1567–1584.



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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