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The apparent paradox paradox

with Bert Cappelle, Universite’ de Lille 3

Tue, October 27, 2015 | BUR 336

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM


Our use of expressions such as apparent paradox, false teeth, fake orgasm and the like seems to imply that there are objects which are and are not a certain thing. It will be argued that this apparent paradox paradox is only an apparent one. Drawing on insights from mental space theory, polyphony, conversational pragmatics and frame semantics, I will adopt and adapt a recent proposal of how best to deal with privative adjectives like fake, false and fictitious. A central notion in my account is that of perspective-taking, which may help us to solve a wide range of puzzling phenomena, including the problem of negative existentials, as in “Unicorns do not exist”, where we predicate the non-existence of something but in doing so presuppose its existence, and possibly even the most fiendish of all paradoxes, the Liar paradox: “This statement is not true” – if what this sentence says about itself is true, it is not a true statement; but if it is not true, it is a true statement after all.



Sponsored by: the Department of Germanic Studies, the Linguistics Research Center, and the Texas Language Center

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