Is truth consistent?

Patrick M. Greenough*

*Corresponding author for this work

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A popular and enduring approach to the liar paradox takes the concept of truth to be inconsistent. Very roughly, truth is an inconsistent concept if the central principles of this concept (taken together) entail a contradiction, where one of these central principles is Tarski’s T-schema for truth: a sentence S is true if and only if p, (where S says that p). This article targets a version of Inconsistentism which: retains classical logic and bivalence; takes the truth-predicate “is true” to pick out a property (and determine a non-empty extension relative to a given world); and holds that liar sentences exhibit a certain kind of indeterminacy in truth-value. Call such a view Modest Inconsistentism since it is somewhat more conservative in its outlook than various other forms of Inconsistentism. Such a modest view has its attractions: we retain the thesis that the liar sentence is meaningful; we get to respect the claims that there are truths and that there is a property of truth; we get to keep classical logic and bivalence; and, prima facie, no strengthened liar paradox is in the offing. The main aim in this paper is to show that Modest Inconsistentism, despite its initial attractions, is in deep trouble—because it does, after all, give rise to a strengthened liar paradox. We shall also see that there are related kinds of theory which are also subject to the same worry.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research
VolumeEarly View
Early online date5 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Sept 2023


  • Liar paradox
  • Inconsistency theories of the liar
  • Strengthened liar paradox
  • Indeterminacy
  • Higher-order indeterminacy
  • Revenge problems


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