The Pragmatics of Self-Reference

  • R. M. Martin
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 38)


It is interesting that discussions of self-reference and of the semantical antinomies usually center around the notion of truth. Sentences such as
  1. (1)

    ‘This very sentence is false’

are thought to refer to themselves in some fashion-it is rarely said precisely how. The notion of reference used is usually left rather vague, and few writers on the subject face up to the need for great clarity in delineating precisely what the relation (or relations) of reference is (or are) supposed to be. The result is that it is then the notion of truth that is impugned for leading to insolubilia — this word was first used apparently by Albertus Magnus — such as (1). For if (1) is true, it states of itself that it is false and hence it is false. And if it is false, what it states is false: but it states of itself that it is false, and hence it is false that it is false and thus true.


Adequate Theory Personal Pronoun Semantical Rule Meaning Structure Chapter Versus 
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  1. 1.
    Cf. Truth and Denotation. Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    In his Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics. Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See especially Semiotics and Linguistic Structure. Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    As in Semiotics and Linguistic Structure, Part B.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See Frege’s The Thought.‘And cf. the author’s ‘On Frege’s Pragmatic Concerns’ in Peirce’s Logic of Relations and Other Studies (Studies in Semiotics, vol. 12, edited by T. Sebeok (Peter de Ridder Press, Lisse, The Netherlands: 1979)).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    As in Semiotics and Linguistic Structure, Chapter VI.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See Semiotics and Linguistic Structure, Chapter XI.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Similar patterns are discussed in the author’s Intension and Decision (Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: 1963), Chapters II and III.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Note the slightly outré use of the corners here to enclose a context containing constants for inscriptions. But the intent is clear enough.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    See especially K.J. Salamucha, Przeglad Filozoficzny, XL (Warsaw, 1937).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    (Venetus: 1499). See I.M. Bochenski, A History of Formal Logic (Notre Dame University Press, Notre Dame, Indiana: 1961), pp. 241 ff. The translations used here are those in Bocheński. Cf. also Paulus Venetus, Sophismata Aurea, 50; Aristotle, Sophist. Elench., 25; and C.S. Peirce, Collected Papers, Vol. 5, §340.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Cf. Ockham, Summa Totius Logicae, 3,3,38.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

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  • R. M. Martin

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