Ethan Jerzak [home page]

Dissertation advisors: John MacFarlane and Seth Yalcin

Sometimes, I work on semantic paradoxes. Mainly their implications for natural language semantics and theories of mental content. I’m puzzled by questions like:

–Can Liar-like paradoxes arise purely at the level of thought, without the need for language? (Maybe some cats, who do not speak any languages, have desires involving the satisfaction or non-satisfaction of the others’ desires. Exercise to the reader: generate a paradox.)

–We know basically what paradoxical sentences are. Are there paradoxical propositions? How should we theorize about states of belief involving ungrounded sentences?

Other times, I work on the nature of desire. I’m interested in questions like: Do we desire what’s really good, or merely what appears to be good? If I want X for the sake of Y, but it turns out X isn’t really a way of getting Y, did I ever really want X, or did I just think I did? I’ve argued that certain kind of relativism about desire attributions best accounts for our conflicted intuitions about questions like these.