Moore’s Paradox in Speech: A Critical Survey

Philosophy Compass 10 (1):10-23 (2015)
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It is raining but you don’t believe that it is raining. Imagine accepting this claim. Then you are committed to saying ‘It is raining but I don’t believe that it is raining’. This would be an ‘absurd’ thing to claim or assert, yet what you say might be true. It might be raining, while at the same time, you are completely ignorant of the state of the weather. But how can it be absurd of you to assert something about yourself that might be true of you? This is Moore’s paradox as it occurs in speech. What is the source of the absurdity? And why does it strike us that a contradiction is somehow at work when there is no contradiction in the content of what is asserted? In Section 2, I describe Moore’s formulation of the paradox and evaluate his own solutions. In Section 3, I discuss Wittgenstein’s inf luence in solving the paradox. In Section 4, I discuss Shoemaker’s priority thesis that once the absurdity in belief has been explained, then this will translate into an explanation of the absurdity in assertion. In Section 5, I discuss work on omissive and commissive Moore-paradoxical assertions, i.e. those of the forms p & I don’t believe that p and p & I believe that not-p. In Section 6, I discuss work on assertions of the form p & I don’t know that p.



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John N. Williams
Singapore Management University

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Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
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Knowledge and belief.Jaakko Hintikka - 1962 - Ithaca, N.Y.,: Cornell University Press.

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