Rosio Pavoris a blog

Stop it

If you’re going to talk about the Epimenides paradox, quit stating it as “All Cretans are liars”.

(You’ve heard of this; a type of liar’s paradox. The point is that trying to evaluate whether Epimenides the Cretan, who supposedly said that line, is telling the truth inevitably leads to a contradiction.)

I’ve seen people who really should know better present that exact phrase as an inescapable paradox. It’s not.

Epimenides can’t be telling the truth, since he’s a Cretan himself, and that would lead to a paradox. But the only other option isn’t that “all Cretans always tell the truth” (as that would indeed also lead to a paradox).
A third option is that some Cretans are liars, and clearly this includes Epimenides, at least in this particular instance.

It’s a ridiculously straight-forward false dichotomy, and it’s annoying the hell out of me. There are easy ways to rephrase the Epimenides paradox so that it’s an actual paradox, some of which are presumably compatible with the original Greek. So do it.

Post a Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL