HomeΦιλοσοφια: International Journal of Philosophyvol. 21 no. 2 (2020)

THE BLUSHING LIAR

Franca D’Agostini | Elena Ficara

 

Abstract:

Suppose a person blushes iff what she says is false and she says: ‘I am blushing’. If she blushes, she doesn’t, and if she doesn’t, she does. This Blushing Liar (BL) is a new paradox, similar in some respects to the Pinocchio Paradox (PP): Pinocchio’s nose grows iff he says some falsity, and he says: ‘my nose is growing’. Both paradoxes involve physical properties, and both, supposedly, confirm the existence of metaphysical dialetheias (see Eldridge-Smith 2011). In the paper, we note first that while PP relies on the rather implausible scenario of a wooden puppet whose nose grows iff he is lying, so it is debunked by the objection of fictionality (raised by Beall 2012), BL is more plausible. Many people in our world blush, and it is not difficult to imagine someone whose saying is causally related to blushing in a similar way. A second question is whether blushing can be directly connected to falsity, without deliberate conscience, on the part of the speaker, of saying a false statement. So we explore the consequences of intending ‘I am blushing’ as a ‘lie’, in the strict meaning of the term, and we claim there is no substantial difference, but for the fact that the paradoxical effect is even more plausible. Third, we check whether BL and PP do really release metaphysical dialetheias, and we argue they do not: they lack the fundamental requisite of Liar-like contradictions, i.e. the stratification of properties.