Biography:Stephen Yablo

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Short description: Canadian-born American philosopher
Stephen Yablo
EducationUniversity of Toronto (B.Sc.)
University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D.)
Spouse(s)Sally Haslanger
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Doctoral advisorDonald Davidson
Main interests
Philosophical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of mind
Notable ideas
Yablo's paradox

Stephen Yablo is a Canadian-born American philosopher. He is David W. Skinner Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and taught previously at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.[1] He specializes in the philosophy of logic, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mathematics.


He was born in Toronto, on 30 September 1957, to a Polish father Saul Yablo and Romanian-Canadian mother Gloria Yablo (née Herman), both Jewish.[2] He is married to fellow MIT philosopher Sally Haslanger.

His Ph.D. is from University of California, Berkeley, where he worked with Donald Davidson and George Myro. In 2012, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has published a number of influential papers in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and metaphysics, and gave the John Locke Lectures at Oxford in 2012, which formed the basis for his book Aboutness, which one reviewer described as "an important and far-reaching book that philosophers will be discussing for a long time."[3]

Yablo's paradox

In 1993, he published a short paper showing that a liar-like paradox can be generated without self-reference.Yablo's paradox is a logical paradox published by Stephen Yablo in 1985.[4][5] It is similar to the liar paradox. Unlike the liar paradox, which uses a single sentence, this paradox uses an infinite list of sentences, each referring to sentences occurring further down the list. Analysis of the list shows that there is no consistent way to assign truth values to any of its members. Since everything on the list refers only to later sentences, Yablo claims that his paradox is "not in any way circular". However, Graham Priest disputes this.[6][7]


Consider the following infinite set of sentences:

S1: For each i > 1, Si is not true.
S2: For each i > 2, Si is not true.
S3: For each i > 3, Si is not true.


Assume that there is an n such that Sn is true. Then Sn + 1 is not true, so there is some k > n + 1 such that Sk is true. But Sk is not true because Sn is true and k > n. Assuming Sn to be true implies a contradiction: some later Sk is both true and not true. So our assumption is absurd, and we must conclude that for each i, the sentence Si is not true. But if each Si is not true, then given that each attributes untruth to later sentences, they are all true. So we have the paradox that each sentence in Yablo's list is true and not true.


  • Thoughts (Philosophical Papers, volume 1) (Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • Things (Philosophical Papers, volume 2) (Oxford University Press, 2010)
  • Aboutness (Princeton University Press, 2014).


External links