...and then the first inscription would be false, etc.
If you are pointing out that would be unstable in that way, or 'meaningless', then OK. good point.
(I did specify that I see the statement "Both inscriptions are false" as false rather than just meaningless, though, and the first inscription would be of that same form if the second one were false.)
In any case I still defend the jester's impression that statements have truth values (excluding 'meaningless' ones, as necessary), while still faulting him for something else entirely:
He was (still) modelling his solution after the earlier problem he had constructed (with the frog and the gold), or he was assuming a situation in which none of the statements were 'meaningless'. Neither was warranted.
(That is one step closer to what many commenters have mentioned, but "This box contains the key." is plainly just false, not unconnected to the world.)
Consider this a just-in-case comment that I am making with very limited time before I have to run and do something else, recognizing the fact that I might fail to make one altogether if I do not do it now. How is that for acknowledging my human mental frailty?
Actually I can do one better: I just had to join the lesswrong chat to diagnose a problem with not being able to comment on an article (which was the reason I just signed up after discovering this site), and the problem turned out the stem from my misspelling my own e-mail address when I signed up.
So there you go: two cognitive flaws immediately apparent just from the process of joining this site. I wonder how many more I can discover here...
All of these comments on the jester wrongly assuming the box inscriptions related to the world seem overwrought to me. I created this account just to make this point (and because this site looks amazing!):
The jester's only mistake was discounting the possibility of both inscriptions being false.
That's it...the inscriptions (both) 'being false'. Not 'pertaining to the real world', not 'having truth values'...just 'being false'.
He figured out that it could not be the case that both inscriptions were true---so far so good. He then assumed that it must be the case that one must be true and the other false, which was only allowing for 1 out of the 2 remaining possibilities (1 true and 1 false, or 2 false). He was modelling his solution after the earlier problem he had constructed (with the frog and the gold), or he was essentially trying to maximize the number of true inscriptions, or both. Neither was warranted.
(I mostly agree with the poster above (Chrysophylax), or at least the first two paragraphs of that long post, in that the inscriptions certainly did have truth values pertaining to the world and specifically to the contents of the boxes. That is mostly the point I wanted to make. I disagree with her or him about this part, though:
"The statement "Both inscriptions are false" is meaningless because it is inconsistent - we cannot assign a truth-value to it."
I see that statement as false, not meaningless. So I actually take slightly more possible statements as pertaining the world and having actual truth values than does Chrysophylax (which in turn is far more than most other commenters here seem to be reporting). ...basically anything that does not match Chrysophylax's other examples of meaningless statements. I could even go so far as saying that the statement "The invisible unicorn is happy." is false though maybe also being 'meaningless' (maybe because it demands the acceptance of the false statement "An invisible unicorn exists." and could be translated as "There exists an invisible unicorn, and it is happy."). I'd love to hear opinions on that, though!)