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Beringer, Timo and Schindler, Thomas (2017): A graph-theoretic analysis of the semantic paradoxes. In: Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, Vol. 23, No. 4: pp. 442-492 [PDF, 536kB]


We introduce a framework for a graph-theoretic analysis of the semantic paradoxes. Similar frameworks have been recently developed for infinitary propositional languages by Cook [5, 6] and Rabern, Rabern, and Macauley [16]. Our focus, however, will be on the language of first-order arithmetic augmented with a primitive truth predicate. Using Leitgeb’s [14] notion of semantic dependence, we assign reference graphs (rfgs) to the sentences of this language and define a notion of paradoxicality in terms of acceptable decorations of rfgs with truth values. It is shown that this notion of paradoxicality coincides with that of Kripke [13]. In order to track down the structural components of an rfg that are responsible for paradoxicality, we show that any decoration can be obtained in a three-stage process: first, the rfg is unfolded into a tree, second, the tree is decorated with truth values (yielding a dependence tree in the sense of Yablo [21]), and third, the decorated tree is re-collapsed onto the rfg. We show that paradoxicality enters the picture only at stage three. Due to this we can isolate two basic patterns necessary for paradoxicality. Moreover, we conjecture a solution to the characterization problem for dangerous rfgs that amounts to the claim that basically the Liar- and the Yablo graph are the only paradoxical rfgs. Furthermore, we develop signed rfgs that allow us to distinguish between ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ reference and obtain more fine-grained versions of our results for unsigned rfgs.

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