Philosophy Compass 10 (1):10-23 (2015)

John N. Williams
Singapore Management University
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.
Keywords Moore's Paradox  Belief
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/phc3.12188
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,657
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and Lotteries.John P. Hawthorn - 2003 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Foundations of Statistics.Leonard J. Savage - 1954 - Wiley Publications in Statistics.
Knowledge and Practical Interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - Oxford University Press.

View all 109 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Endorsement and Assertion.Will Fleisher - 2021 - Noûs 55 (2):363-384.
The Normative Error Theorist Cannot Avoid Self-Defeat.Spencer Case - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (1):92-104.
Explaining Enkratic Asymmetries: Knowledge-First Style.Paul Silva - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (11):2907-2930.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
79 ( #139,889 of 2,462,332 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
11 ( #65,074 of 2,462,332 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes