Event Detail

Thu Dec 7, 2017
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Graduate Research Colloquium
Ethan Jerzak
Paradoxical Desires

Paradoxes of self-reference (e.g. the Liar) are traditionally presented as essentially about language. The idea is that linguistic devices like the truth predicate can become too expressive, and threaten to trivialize the languages to which they belong. I argue that this way of conceiving the paradoxes misdiagnoses the problem: these paradoxes arise at the level of thought itself, independently of the languages that we use to express those thoughts. I’ll present a paradoxical combination of desires, and show that we’re saddled with an unattractive disjunction: we either reject the possibility of the case, or revise classical logic. Rejecting the possibility of the case makes sense on no reasonable way of thinking about mental content; so, I argue, we need a non-classical theory of propositional attitudes, according to which we can have desires that are neither satisfied nor fail to be satisfied. I conclude by drawing out some consequences for more traditional semantic paradoxes.