Self-Reference in Philosophical Argumentation from the Perspective of Pragmatics
This paper argues that pragmatics can yield interesting insights into the nature of paradoxes of self-reference. These insights help us understand that self-referential questions in philosophy do not necessarily lead to antinomy. First, the article summarizes the results of the traditional, formal-semantic approach to antinomies and determines which kind of attempts at resolving them has led philosophers to reject all self-referential sentences as nonsensical. Next, it presents two pragmatically-oriented attempts at solving the Liar paradox. Critical examination of these attempts makes it possible to distill the specific features of the pragmatic approach and to use these features in an analysis of several self-referential utterances. Accordingly, the paper proposes a classification of pragmatic self-reference, which is then used to analyze the argument from self-referential inconsistency against skepticism. The paper closes with a summary emphasizing that, in light of pragmatic analysis, self-referential arguments in philosophy are not affected by paradox, which shows that the inadmissibility thesis is unjustified.