Moore’s Paradox in Speech: A Critical Survey

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

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

Citations of this work

Endorsement and assertion.Will Fleisher - 2021 - Noûs 55 (2):363-384.
Higher-Order Evidence.Daniel Whiting - 2021 - Analysis 80 (4):789-807.
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.

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References found in this work

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

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