In this journal, Hamid Vahid argues against three families of explanation of Mooreparadoxicality. The ﬁrst is the Wittgensteinian approach; I assert that p just in case I assert that I believe that p. So making a Moore-paradoxical assertion involves contradictory assertions. The second is the epistemic approach, one committed to: if I am justiﬁed in believing that p then I am justiﬁed in believing that I believe that p. So it is impossible to have a justiﬁed omissive Mooreparadoxical belief. The (...) third is the conscious belief approach, being committed to: if I consciously believe that p then I believe that I believe that p. So if I have a conscious omissive Moore-paradoxical belief, then I have contradictory second-order beliefs. In their place, Vahid argues for the defective- interpretation approach, broadly that charity requires us to discount the utterer of a Mooreparadoxical sentence as a speaker. I agree that the Wittgensteinian approach is unsatisfactory. But so is the defective-interpretation approach. However, there is a satisfactory version of each of the epistemic and conscious-belief approaches. (shrink)
Is there a Moore’s paradox in desire? I give a normative explanation of the epistemic irrationality, and hence absurdity, of Moorean belief that builds on Green and Williams’ normative account of absurdity. This explains why Moorean beliefs are normally irrational and thus absurd, while some Moorean beliefs are absurd without being irrational. Then I defend constructing a Moorean desire as the syntactic counterpart of a Moorean belief and distinguish it from a ‘Frankfurt’ conjunction of desires. Next I discuss putative examples (...) of rational and irrational desires, suggesting that there are norms of rational desire. Then I examine David Wall’s groundbreaking argument that Moorean desires are always unreasonable. Next I show against this that there are rational as well as irrational Moorean desires. Those that are irrational are also absurd, although there seem to be absurd desires that are not irrational. I conclude that certain norms of rational desire should be rejected. (shrink)
John Turri gives an example that he thinks refutes what he takes to be “G. E. Moore's view” that omissive assertions such as “It is raining but I do not believe that it is raining” are “inherently ‘absurd'”. This is that of Ellie, an eliminativist who makes such assertions. Turri thinks that these are perfectly reasonable and not even absurd. Nor does she seem irrational if the sincerity of her assertion requires her to believe its content. A commissive counterpart of (...) Ellie is Di, a dialetheist who asserts or believes that The Russell set includes itself but I believe that it is not the case that the Russell set includes itself. Since any adequate explanation of Moore's paradox must handle commissive assertions and beliefs as well as omissive ones, it must deal with Di as well as engage Ellie. I give such an explanation. I argue that neither Ellie's assertion nor her belief is irrational yet both are absurd. Likewise neither Di's assertion nor her belief is irrational yet in contrast neither is absurd. I conclude that not all Moore-paradoxical assertions or beliefs are irrational and that the syntax of Moore's examples is not sufficient for the absurdity found in them. (shrink)
Moore’s paradox is the fact that assertions or beliefs such asBangkok is the capital of Thailand but I do not believe that Bangkok is the capital of Thailand or Bangkok is the capital of Thailand but I believe that Bangkok is not the capital of Thailandare ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. The current orthodoxy is that an explanation of the absurdity should first start with belief, on the assumption that once the absurdity in belief has been explained then this will translate (...) into an explanation of the absurdity in assertion. This assumption gives explanatory priority to belief over assertion. I show that the translation involved is much trickier than might at first appear. It is simplistic to think that Moorean absurdity in assertion is always a subsidiary product of the absurdity in belief, even when the absurdity is conceived as irrationality. Instead we should aim for explanations of Moorean absurdity in assertion and in belief that are independent even if related, while bearing in mind that some forms of irrationality may be forms of absurdity even if not conversely. (shrink)
Moore’s paradox in belief is the fact that beliefs of the form ‘ p and I do not believe that p ’ are ‘absurd’ yet possibly true. Writers on the paradox have nearly all taken the absurdity to be a form of irrationality. These include those who give what Timothy Chan calls the ‘pragmatic solution’ to the paradox. This solution turns on the fact that having the Moorean belief falsifies its content. Chan, who also takes the absurdity to be a (...) form of irrationality, objects to this solution by arguing that it is circular and thus incomplete. This is because it must explain why Moorean beliefs are irrational yet, according to Chan, their grammatical third-person transpositions are not, even though the same proposition is believed. But the solution can only explain this asymmetry by relying on a formulation of the ground of the irrationality of Moorean beliefs that presupposes precisely such asymmetry. I reply that it is neither necessary nor sufficient for the irrationality that the contents of Moorean beliefs be restricted to the grammatical first-person. What has to be explained is rather that such grammatical non-first-person transpositions sometimes, but not always, result in the disappearance of irrationality. Describing this phenomenon requires the grammatical first-person/non-first person distinction. The pragmatic solution explains the phenomenon once it is formulated in de se terms. But the grammatical first-person/non-first-person distinction is independent of, and a fortiori, different from, the de se /non- de se distinction presupposed by pragmatic solution, although both involve the first person broadly construed. Therefore the pragmatic solution is not circular. Building on the work of Green and Williams I also distinguish between the irrationality of Moorean beliefs and their absurdity. I argue that while all irrational Moorean beliefs are absurd, some Moorean beliefs are absurd but not irrational. I explain this absurdity in a way that is not circular either. (shrink)
Chalmers and Hájek argue that on an epistemic reading of Ramsey’s test for the rational acceptability of conditionals, it is faulty. They claim that applying the test to each of a certain pair of conditionals requires one to think that one is omniscient or infallible, unless one forms irrational Moore-paradoxical beliefs. I show that this claim is false. The epistemic Ramsey test is indeed faulty. Applying it requires that one think of anyone as all-believing and if one is rational, to (...) think of anyone as infallible-if-rational. But this is not because of Moore-paradoxical beliefs. Rather it is because applying the test requires a certain supposition about conscious belief. It is important to understand the nature of this supposition. (shrink)
G. E. Moore famously observed that to assert ‘I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I do not believe that I did’ would be ‘absurd’. Moore calls it a ‘paradox’ that this absurdity persists despite the fact that what I say about myself might be true. Krista Lawlor and John Perry have proposed an explanation of the absurdity that confines itself to semantic notions while eschewing pragmatic ones. We argue that this explanation faces four objections. We give a better (...) explanation of the absurdity both in assertion and in belief that avoids our four objections. (shrink)
In this journal, Hamid Vahid argues against three families of explanation of Moore-paradoxicality. The first is the Wittgensteinian approach; I assert that p just in case I assert that I believe that p. So making a Moore-paradoxical assertion involves contradictory assertions. The second is the epistemic approach, one committed to: if I am justified in believing that p then I am justified in believing that I believe that p. So it is impossible to have a justified omissive Moore-paradoxical belief. The (...) third is the conscious belief approach, being committed to: if I consciously believe that p then I believe that I believe that p. So if I have a conscious omissive Moore-paradoxical belief, then I have contradictory second-order beliefs. In their place, Vahid argues for the defective-interpretation approach, broadly that charity requires us to discount the utterer of a Moore-paradoxical sentence as a speaker. I agree that the Wittgensteinian approach is unsatisfactory. But so is the defective-interpretation approach. However, there is a satisfactory version of each of the epistemic and conscious-belief approaches. (shrink)
In 2004, I explained the absurdity of Moore-paradoxical belief via the syllogism (Williams 2004): (1) All circumstances that justify me in believing that p are circumstances that tend to make me believe that p. (2) All circumstances that tend to make me believe that p are circumstances that justify me in believing that I believe that p. (3) All circumstances that justify me in believing that p are circumstances that justify me in believing that I believe that p. I then (...) took (3) to mean (EP) Whatever justifies me in believing that p justifies me in believing that I believe that p.1 Now suppose that I am justified in believing anything of the omissive Mooreparadoxical form: (Om) p and I do not believe that p. Then I am justified in believing the first conjunct. So by (EP) I am justified in believing that I believe that p. But since I am also justified in believing the second conjunct, I am justified in believing that I do not believe that p. I claimed that this is impossible, because anything that justifies me in believing that something is the case renders me unjustified in believing that it is not the case. This syllogism is plausible from an externalist view of justification, according to which circumstances such as seeming to see rain under normal perceptual conditions, justify me in believing that it is raining. In support of (1), if my apparent perceptions of rain are reliably connected with rain, so as to justify me in thinking that it is raining, they also tend to make me believe that it is raining. In support of (2), my apparent perceptions of rain are also reliably connected with my coming to believe that it is raining. However, Anthony Brueckner (2006) argues that (1) and (EP) are both false once justification is thought of evidentially. Against (EP), he claims that my evidence that p is not evidence that I believe that p unless I possess the evidence, in the sense that I believe it and were I to believe that p on its basis. (shrink)
This paper is roughly in two parts. The first deals with whether know-how is constituted by propositional knowledge, as discussed primarily by Gilbert Ryle (1949) The concept of mind. London: Hutchinson, Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson (2001). Knowing how. Journal of Philosophy, 98, pp. 411–444 as well as Stephen Hetherington (2006). How to know that knowledge-that is knowledge-how. In S. Hetherington (Ed.) Epistemology futures. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The conclusion of this first part is that know-how sometimes does and sometimes (...) does not consist in propositional knowledge. The second part defends an analysis of know-how inspired by Katherine Hawley’ (2003). Success and knowledge-how. American Philosophical Quarterly, 40, pp. 19–31, insightful proposal that know-how requires counterfactual success. I conclude by showing how this analysis helps to explain why know-how sometimes does and sometimes does not consist of propositional knowledge. (shrink)
G. E. Moore observed that to assert, 'I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don't believe that I did' would be 'absurd'. Over half a century later, such sayings continue to perplex philosophers. In the definitive treatment of the famous paradox, Green and Williams explain its history and relevance and present new essays by leading thinkers in the area.
One tradition of solving the surprise exam paradox, started by Robert Binkley and continued by Doris Olin, Roy Sorensen and Jelle Gerbrandy, construes surpriseepistemically and relies upon the oddity of propositions akin to G. E. Moore’s paradoxical ‘p and I don’t believe that p.’ Here I argue for an analysis that evolves from Olin’s. My analysis is different from hers or indeed any of those in the tradition because it explicitly recognizes that there are two distinct reductios at work in (...) the student’s paradoxical argument against the teacher. The weak reductio is easy to fault. Its invalidity determines the structure of the strong reductio, so-calledbecause it is more difficult to refute, but ultimately unsound because of reasons associated with Moore-paradoxicality. Previous commentators have not always appreciated this difference, with the result that the strong reductio is not addressed, or the response to the weak reductio is superfl uous. This is one reason why other analyses in the tradition are vulnerable to objections to which mine is not. (shrink)
(2) All circumstances that tend to make me believe that p are circumstances that justify me in believing that I believe that p. __________________________________________________________________ (C) All circumstances that justify me in believing that p are circumstances that..
G. E. Moore famously observed that to say, “ I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don’t believe that I did” would be “absurd”. Why should it be absurd of me to say something about myself that might be true of me? Moore suggested an answer to this, but as I will show, one that fails. Wittgenstein was greatly impressed by Moore’s discovery of a class of absurd but possibly true assertions because he saw that it illuminates “the (...) logic of assertion”. Wittgenstein suggests a promising relation of assertion to belief in terms of the idea that one “expresses belief” that is consistent with the spirit of Moore’s failed attempt to explain the absurdity. Wittgenstein also observes that “under unusual circumstances”, the sentence, “It’s raining but I don’t believe it” could be given “a clear sense”. Why does the absurdity disappear from speech in such cases? Wittgenstein further suggests that analogous absurdity may be found in terms of desire, rather than belief. In what follows I develop an account of Moorean absurdity that, with the exception of Wittgenstein’s last suggestion, is broadly consistent with both Moore’s approach and Wittgenstein’s. (shrink)
I supply an argument for Evans's principle that whatever justifies me in believing that p also justifies me in believing that I believe that p. I show how this principle helps explain how I come to know my own beliefs in a way that normally makes me the best authority on them. Then I show how the principle helps to solve Moore's paradoxes.
(A) I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don’t believe that I did (1942, p. 543) or (B) I believe that he has gone out. But he has not (1944, p. 204) would be “absurd” (1942, p. 543; 1944, p. 204). Wittgenstein’s letters to Moore show that he was intensely interested in this discovery of a class of possibly true yet absurd assertions. Wittgenstein thought that the absurdity is important because it is “something similar to a contradiction, thought (...) it isn’t one” (1974, p. 177). What is the explanation of the absurdity of saying or believing something about myself that might be true? Wittgenstein thought that although the explanation will say “something about the logic of assertion” it will also show that “logic isn’t as simple as logicians think it is”. So although the explanation should.. (shrink)
It is first argued that there are two types of beliefs-in; beliefs in X which are identical with the belief that X exists and beliefs-in which entail no existential belief but which do entail a commendatory attitude. It is then shown that belief in God is not identical with, but rather entails, the belief that God exists. Pace Norman Malcolm, the converse holds neither as a logical nor psychological claims.
The absurdity of (i) and (ii) arises because asserting 'p' normally expresses a belief that p. Normally, when (i) is asserted, what is conjointly expressed and asserted, i.e. a belief that p and a lack of belief that p, is logically impossible, whereas normally, when (ii) is asserted, it is differently absurd, since what is conjointly expressed and asserted, i.e. a belief that p and a belief that -p, is logically possible, but inconsistent. A possible source of confusion between 'impossible' (...) and 'inconsistent' is the fact that a proposition which is inconsistent tout court is always self-contradictory and hence necessarily false, unlike one which is inconsistent with other propositions. Whereas the proposition Ibp&-Ibp is inconsistent, the proposition IBp &IB-p is not. I cannot hold a belief which I lack, but I can.. (shrink)
The background to this paper is the question of how rational belief is possible in the light of the commonly presented infinite regress in reasons. The paper investigates the neglected question of whether this regress is vicious. I argue that given the genuine requirements of rational belief, The regress would require the rational believer to hold an infinity of beliefs, Which is impossible. The regress would not entail the rational believer holding an infinitely complex belief, Which, Admittedly, Would be logically (...) impossible. (shrink)