Liar - Sentences and statements


  • Goldstein, L. (1992). 'This statement is not true' is not true. Analysis. 52.1, 1-5. link

Distinguishing between between sentences and statements / propositions.

Philosophy improves the analytical abilities of students.

  • Taking statements and not sentences as truth-bearers.

Modified versions of the Liar sentences

@(L4) Sentence L4 expresses a false statement.@ The corresponding version of the strengthened liar: @(L5) Sentence L5 does not express a true statement.@

Why is this supposed to help?

  • The same sentence might express a statement in one context but fails to do so in another context. "That man is a pervert."
  • So one might argue that although L5 does not express a true statement, one can report that fact using the very same sentence type and succeeds in making a true statement.

@(L6) Sentence L5 does not express a true statement.@

Three objections - L5 does express a statement

  1. Why is it that one token expresses a statement whereas the other one does not? Normal explanations of expressive failures do not seem to apply here, e.g. referential failure.
  2. A subject-predicate sentence Fa expresses a statement if a ("L5") succeeds in denoting an object and F ("does not express a true statement") expresses a property. This applies to L5.
  3. Samesaying principle - if A says the same thing as B, and A is true (false), then B is also true (false). Rejecting the samesaying principle makes it unclear how truth is to be explained. (The truth of a statement depends on what is said and the facts.)