# Kripke on Truth

This comes from Kripke’s paper On Truth:

(1) Most of Nixon’s assertions about Water gate are false.

(2) Everything Jones says about Watergate is true.

Do you think

(1) and (2) are true if and only if they are false or are simply true?

OK, I read that a couple of times and I am scratching my head. Are they true only if they are false? No. Are they true if and only if they are simply true? I am tending towards yes, but I am not sure what ‘simply’ is doing. If ‘simply true’ is a subset of true, one that is smaller than the set ‘true’ then no.

But I feel like I am missing something rather important here.

If you think you scratched you’re head than just double that and that’s how much I scratched my head. Kripke thinks they are true if and only if they are false. I disagree. I can’t imagine why he thinks that. It’s from Kripke’s paper theory of truth. I tried to upload it but the computer won’t let me upload pdf.

third page of the document/p. 691

It’s a version of the Liar paradox, as long as (1) is a statement by Jones and (2) is the one statement (by Nixon) upon which the truth of “most of…” hangs. If true, it’s false, and if false it’s true. Hence a straightforward logical paradox. But without those conditions, the initial statement of the problem doesn’t make much sense…

Ok, three of us can’t make heads or tails of what Kripke is talking about, so it’s looking like he was wrong.

Wait, you missed the conditions: it matters who is asserting what. Read OH’s post again.

Jone’s statement is true if and only if Nixon’s statement is false.

I don’t think that’s the same as:

1. This statement is false

Therefore,

Statement one is true if and only if it is false.

We have to be able to report that other statements are false in order to survive. If Hume says: Free will does not exist. And I say Hume’s statement is false. Then it is true that Hume’s statement is false. That’s not a contradiction. A contradiction only occurs when an identical statement is both true and false at the same time. For example.

It is true that Moreno is a philosopher
It is false that Moreno is a philosopher - that’s a contradiction.

It is true that Moreno said something false - that’s not a contradiction.

There’s more however…

And if Nixon’s statement is false, then under the conditions described in the paper it falsifies Jones’ statement.

Imagine Jones has only ever said

• Most of Nixon’s assertions about Watergate are false (statement 1)

And Nixon has only ever said

• Watergate is a political conspiracy (true)
• Watergate is the name of the Queen of England’s palace in London (false)
• Everything Jones says about Watergate is true (statement 2)

If 1 is true, then 2 is true, and most of what Nixon asserts about Watergate is true, hence 1 is false iff 1 is true.
If 1 is false, 2 is false, hence most of what Nixon asserts about Watergate is false, hence 1 is true iff 1 is false.

I see what’s going on now. Kripke is still confused.

1. Jones: What Nixon says about Watergate is false.
2. Nixon: What Jones says about Watergate is true.

This violates John Wheeler’s definition of time: time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. Nixon always makes the first claim about Watergate:

1. Nixon: I did not order the break-in of watergate.
2. Jones: What Nixon says about Watergate is false. (statement 4 is true iff it is true)
3. Nixon: What Jones said about me is true. (statement 5 is true iff it is true)

If the statements occur in time then no paradox results.
Kripke incorrectly assumes that statements 1 and 2 can occur simultaneously and both speakers know about it simultaneously which violates Wheeler’s law of time. Moreover, statement 1 is also flawed in that it refers to two statements one true one false. When Jones make statement 1 he is referring to statement 2 (true) and to statement 3 (false). You can’t report the truth of two statements which have an opposite truth value. For example:

1. Jones: Moscow is in Poland. (false)
2. Jones: Paris is in France. (true)
3. Nixon: What Jones says is true.

What’s Nixon referring to? Jones’ first or second statement?

I’m honestly not seeing how.

He’s not making a claim about what Nixon or Jones said, or sketching out a conversation. He’s making the claim that logical paradoxes can easily occur in normal language.

You’ve changed the statements, and doubled some up. No wonder you’re confused.

He doesn’t, at any point in the proceedings. It’s not necessary, as long as the satisfaction of “most of…” hangs in the balance according to the truth or falsity of Jones’ statement.

He’s making a claim that paradoxes occur but he’s using Nixon’s statements as evidence.

First, do you admit that to say

statement 1 is true if and only if it is false

is not the same as

it is true that statement 1 is false?

statement 1 is true if and only if it is false means: statement one is true if it is false and statement one is false if it is true.

So let’s now take three statements Nixon probably said prior to Jones having said anything:

1. Nixon: I did not order the watergate break-in (false)
2. Nixon: I do not know who the men who broke into Watergate (false)
3. Nixon: Watergate is in DC (true)

Statements 1-3 were said before 1973.
Now Jones can make the following true statement:

1. The majority of Nixon’s statements about Watergate are false.

It is true that statement four is false. It is not true if and only if it is false.

Now Nixon makes the following statement on 1.2.73

1. Everything Jones said about watergate is true. (That statement is true if and only if it is true and here everything Jones says is restricted to statement 4.)

Here is where Kripke makes his mistake. He violates the law of time. He mistakenly assumes that when statement 4 is uttered knowledge of statement 5 exists. When statement 4 is uttered statement 5 has not been spoken yet. If you include Nixon’s statement about Watergate as 1,2,3,5 then two statements are true and two statements are false, so now it is no longer true that the majority of Nixon’s statements about Watergate are false, now half are true and half are false. Now statement 4 is simply false. It’s not true iff it’s false, it’s just false. Nixon’s statement 5 is not true, it’s just false. It’s not false iff it’s true, it’s just false. Kripke has violated Wheeler’s Law of Time.

A similar paradox is as follows:

Max:Agnes’ claim is true.Agnes:Max’s claim is not true.

in the following way:

they violate the laws of time. One of the two has to make their claim first. In the above max and agnes both have knowledge of each other’s claim simultaneously. If max makes his claim first, then he cannot even refer to agnes claim because she hasn’t even spoken it yet. once max makes a claim, say,

1. paris is in england,

then agnes can declare that

1. max’s claim is false.

then max can declare that statement 2 is true if it refers to statement 1.

1. This statement is false.

Six is true iff it is false.

Six is not a statement. A statement is only a statement iff it refers to a subject and a predicate and reports whether or not the subject is actually attached to the predicate in the real world. Six does not do that. Therefore six is not a statement and cannot report on true or falsity. Some people think that “this statement” is the subject and is false is the predicate but that’s not the case. A statement cannot refer to itself for the simple reason that it has no self. A person can refer to himself but not a statement. Is false moreover only serves as a predicate when it is itself a predicate of a subject-predicate combination.

But that’s not Kripke’s example. Kripke’s example has Nixon having an equal number of true and false statements not including your statement 5. That’s where the paradox comes in:

4 is false, which makes 5 false, but that makes 4 true, which makes 5 true, which makes 4 false, and so on.

You’re messing with time in a way that time does not work. Statement 4 applies to statements 1-3 which were made in the past. At the time Jones uttered statement 4 it was true. The fact that Nixon will say something in the future (statement 5) does make a statement in the present false.

You’re assuming that statements made in the present can be falsified by statements made in the future which is not the case.

Imagine that Bob has only made one statement in his whole life:

1. Bob: Paris is in Russia.

Now Mike says:

1. Everything Bob says is false.

That statement’s truth by Mike does not depend on something Bob will say in the future. But if Bob does in fact say something true in the future then Mike will say:

When I made statement 2 it was true, but in light of recent events, that statement is now false. There is no paradox here. Statements’ truth value can be updated with current events.

Thanks for participating in the debate. The same respect I accord you I hope you will accord me.

The timing of the statements simply doesn’t matter. If the statement is falsified, it’s proven true. If it’s true, it’s falsified; this is regardless of the temporal arrangements of the speech acts.

It’s just the truth condition of the statement, which your other examples don’t take into account, as there is no reflexivity in them. They’re simple true/false statements, with no capacity to affect themselves. So you are correct, they are not paradoxical, but they also have little to do with what Kripke was saying.

It could be that one of Kripke’s most well-known papers has a glaring error in the opening pages and no-one in the philosophical community noticed until now that the paradox it’s based around isn’t a paradox at all. It could be that you misunderstand something. Can you explain why everyone else thinks it’s a paradox and you don’t?

The time in which a statement is uttered does matter. That’s the whole point of time: it enables events to stand in relation to each other. You are forcing events into one time which time has in fact separated. If Bob says:

1. Bob: Paris is in Russia. (1971)

Now I say:

1. Everything Bob says is false. (1972)

the only thing that can falsify statement 2 is a future utterance by Bob. Since time matters and I want to make a statement about Bob that applies to the future I would have to specify that:

1. Bob will always say something false.

Statement 3 specifically refers to the future, statements 2 specifically refers to what has happened up until the present. We only intend our statements to refer to the future when we specifically mention our wish for them to do so.

It is your misunderstanding of time which has caused a paradox where there is none.

Don’t know what the words in bold refer to.

You’re making a the standard appeal to authority, which is invalid. You’re belief in this paradox has forced you to embrace something which is highly counterintuitive: that time does not matter and that time does not separate events.

Whenever someone points to the wisdom of the philosophical community I always point to five examples:

1. many philosophers believe imaginary evidence qualifies as evidence: the zombie argument and the inverted qualia argument
2. only 50% (the Chalmers survey) of philosophers accept or lean towards the correspondence theory of truth
3. what does every famous philosopher from Leibniz and Berkely up until about 1850 with the exception of Hume, have in common? They all accepted some form of idealism, a belief which no one accepts today.
4. 60% of philosophers believe in compatibilism which is a plain contradiction.
5. Cicero said there is nothing so absurd that some philosopher has not said, so the philosophical community has a reputation for getting things wrong.
6. Wittgenstein’s Tractatus even inspire people to follow him around Cambridge and even made John Maynard Keyes to refer to him as God. And yet W later admitted that he got it all wrong.

Basically my opinion of the intelligence of the philosophical community is very low.

The statements contain references to themselves as part of what satisfies their truth condition. Hence, why your examples involving Bob, Russia and time are not relevant to the paradox.

The self-reference is why Kripke explains it as a version of the Liar paradox.

With all due respect, I predict that it will survive such a blow.

1. statements do not have a self

2. therefore they cannot self-refer

3. Statements point to a subject and a predicate and report on whether or not that subject predicate relationship exists.

4. The liar “string” does not have a subject and a predicate.

5. Therefore it cannot report truth or falsity.

Those who believe statements can self-refer are forcing statements to do something that they are not meant to do.

Moreover, it seems like you’re backing off your first thesis: time does not matter, and now you’re taking up a new thesis: statements can self-refer. Are you conceding that time does not matter?

Thanks for participating in the debate. I appreciate your thoughts.

The paradox is faulty on a basic ground: there is no subject-predicate self reference in either statements, there is only an implication of it. Therefore there are no corresponding conditions regarding time which appliy to the statements…
Therefore the paradox is artificial due to an appearant discrepency between a self referential implication within the statements, and a non corresponding issue with time. It’s not a paradox.