Could someone help me clear up a paradox? Let’s say there’s a woman who says “I cannot say no to you” and the woman she is speaking with responds “well then, say ‘no’”. Is this really a paradox? In my opinion it isn’t: When the woman says that “she can’t say ‘no’” there are one of two interpretations of that phrase. She either means “I cannot deny your requests” or literally “I cannot utter the word ‘no’”. If it’s the former, then asking her to just “say no” wouldn’t put her in a paradox, since simply uttering the word “no” isn’t denying a request, it’s just making an empty utterance. It’s like how saying “I declare bankruptcy” doesn’t actually do anything, it’s just making noise. If it’s the latter example, and she cannot “say no”, then she technically never said she cannot deny a request—she just can’t use the specific word “no” in her statement. She can still say “I refuse” or “I will not do that” and then not have to say “no”. Am I wrong about this?
If the woman meant (a) "I can
If the woman meant (a) "I can't utter the word no in response to any request from you," then she can't abide by her companion's request (to say "no") without falsifying what she has just said. Still, I agree with you that there's no paradox here. The woman can abide by the request to say "no" by saying "no" in response to it. As far as I can see, the appearance of paradox depends on supposing that the woman meant both (a) and also (b) "I can't deny any request from you." But, as you suggest, she can't have meant both (a) and (b). All that follows is that (a) and (b) can't both be true if her companion asks her to say "no." Nothing especially interesting about that.
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