What this project is about
Anne believes that Bob assumes that Anne believes that Bob’s assumption is false.
Does Anne believe that Bob’s assumption is false?
Don’t try too hard answering the question - any straightforward attempt will lead to paradox.
But what are we to make of sentences such as “Anne believes that Bob’s assumption is false.”
Is the sentence true or false?
On the face of it, it would seem that answering this question is a pressing problem for natural language semantics that assigns truth conditions to sentences of natural language.
However, semanticists have largely ignored problems of this kind, leaving the field to philosophical logicians working on paradoxes, in particular, the paradoxes of truth such as the Liar paradox.
But research on the paradoxes of truth has often focused on exploring the space of possible coherent “solutions” to the paradoxes thereby ignoring desiderata of natural language semantics.
The project provides a unified perspective on natural language semantics, conceived of as truth-conditional semantics, and the research on the so-called semantic paradoxes in form of theories of self-applicable truth.
A unified approach to truth and semantics will need to answer two principal challenges, which divides the research project into two interrelated parts:
The project constitutes the first systematic study of truth and natural language semantics from such a combined perspective.
Visitors to the project are very welcome.
A number of European countries offer Visiting Research Fellowships for visiting established ERC projects.
Several non-European countries offer International Arrangement Funding for researchers to temporarily join ERC teams in Europe.
Contact Johannes Stern to discuss these or further opportunities.