Moore’s Paradox and the Priority of Belief Thesis

Philosophical Studies 165 (3):1117-1138 (2013)

John N. Williams
Singapore Management University
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 Thailand are ‘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
Keywords Moore’s paradox  Assertion  Belief  Absurdity  Irrationality  Expression  Norms
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9997-1
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References found in this work BETA

Mortal Questions.Thomas Nagel - 1979 - Cambridge University Press.
Blindspots.Roy A. Sorensen - 1988 - Oxford University Press.
Blindspots.Roy A. Sorenson - 1991 - Noûs 25 (3):389-392.

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Citations of this work BETA

Moore's Paradox in Thought: A Critical Survey.John N. Williams - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (1):24-37.
Moore’s Paradox in Speech: A Critical Survey.John N. Williams - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (1):10-23.
Moore’s Paradox in Belief and Desire.John N. Williams - 2014 - Acta Analytica 29 (1):1-23.

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