G.E. Moore, more than either Bertrand Russell or Ludwig Wittgenstein, was chiefly responsible for the rise of the analytic method in twentieth-century philosophy. This selection of his writings shows Moore at his very best. The classic essays are crucial to major philosophical debates that still resonate today. Amongst those included are: * A Defense of Common Sense * Certainty * Sense-Data * External and Internal Relations * Hume's Theory Explained * Is Existence a Predicate? * Proof of an (...) External World In addition, this collection also contains the key early papers in which Moore signals his break with idealism, and three important previously unpublished papers from his later work which illustrate his relationship with Wittgenstein. (shrink)
In April 1939, G. E. Moore read a paper to the Cambridge University Moral Science Club entitled ‘Certainty’. In it, amongst other things, Moore made the claims that: the phrase ‘it is certain’ could be used with sense-experience-statements, such as ‘I have a pain’, to make statements such as ‘It is certain that I have a pain’; and that sense-experience-statements can be said to be certain in the same sense as some material-thing-statements can be — namely in the (...) sense that they can be safely counted on. When Moore later read his paper to Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein took violent exception to it, and the two entered into a heated exchange. The only known notes of this exchange are a previously unpublished verbatim record of part of it, taken by Norman Malcolm. This paper is an edition of Malcolm’s notes. These notes are valuable for both philosophical and scholarly reasons. They give us a glimpse of a sustained exchange between Wittgenstein and a real-life interlocutor; they contain a defence by Wittgenstein of the idea that a word’s use can illuminate its meaning; and they provide evidence of Wittgenstein’s philosophical engagement with the topic of certainty, and with Moore’s thought on it, long before he began to write the notes which make up On Certainty, in 1949. (shrink)
In this response to the review of Moore, Causation and Responsibility, by Larry Alexander and Kimberly Ferzan, previously published in this journal, two issues are discussed. The first is whether causation, counterfactual dependence, moral blame, and culpability, are all scalar properties or relations, that is, matters of more-or-less rather than either-or. The second issue discussed is whether deontological moral obligation is best described as a prohibition against using another as a means, or rather, as a prohibition on an agent (...) strongly causing a prohibited result that was not about to happen anyway while intending to do so. (shrink)
Freud justified his extensive theorizing about dreams by the observation that they were “the royal road” to something much more general: namely, our unconscious mental life. The current preoccupation with the theory of excuse in criminal law scholarship can be given a similar justification, for the excuses are the royal road to theories of responsibility generally. The thought is that if we understand why we excuse in certain situations but not others, we will have also gained a much more general (...) insight into the nature of responsibility itself. Nowhere has this thought been more evident than in the century-old focus of criminal law theoreticians on the excuse of insanity, a focus that could not be justified by the importance of the excuse itself. In this paper I wish to isolate two theories of excuse, each of which instantiates its own distinctive theory of responsibility. One is what I shall call the choice theory of excuse, according to which one is excused for the doing of a wrongful action because and only because at the moment of such action's performance, one did not have sufficient capacity or opportunity to make the choice to do otherwise. Such a choice theory of excuse instantiates a more general theory of responsibility, according to which we are responsible for wrongs we freely choose to do, and not responsible for wrongs we lacked the freedom to avoid doing. The second I shall call the character theory of excuse, according to which one is excused for the doing of a wrongful action because and only because such action is not determined by those enduring attributes of ourselves we call our characters. (shrink)
There is not, and may there never be, any treatise by me …onthese things, for the subject is not communicable in words, as othersciences are. Rather is it that, after long association in the business itself and a shared life, a light is lit in the soul, kindled, as it were, by a leaping flame, and thenceforward feeds itself.
September 11, 2001 brought to legal awareness an issue that has long puzzled metaphysicians. The general issue is that of event-identity, drawing the boundaries of events so that we can tell when there is one event and when there are two. The September 11th version of that issue is: how many occurrences of insured events were there on September 11, 2001 in New York? Was the collapse of the two World Trade Center Towers one event, despite the two separate airliners (...) crashing into each tower? Or were these two separate insured events? (shrink)
My title is a quotation from Davidson's essay ‘On Saying That’. And although my concerns are at some remove from his, they do connect at one significant point. We find ourselves under the continual pressure of theory to deny that ordinary familiar semantic features of ordinary familiar words equip them to serve certain ordinary familiar functions. One of Davidson's aims is to resist that pressure as far as the function of reporting indirect speech is concerned. In similar vein I want (...) to look at some common things that we do with words and show how we can hold fast to a simple common-sense view of what we are doing despite the doubts to which reflection is apt to give rise. In fact I want to look at six things we do with words, six linguistic moves we make. These six moves are related in a number of important ways. Even so, they are really the subjects of six separate essays, and I am well aware that treating them together in the way that I shall be doing—worse still, trying thereby to make some headway with solving one or two extremely difficult philosophical problems, as I shall also be doing—will mean that in each case I can at best produce something highly programmatic. (shrink)
Hume considered An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals incomparably the best of all his writings. In the argument advanced here, I propose that Hume's preference for the Enquiry may be linked to his admiration of Cicero, and his work, De Officiis. Cicero's attempt to discover the honestum of morality in De Officiis had a particular relevance and appeal for philosophers of the early eighteenth century who were seeking to establish what they called the foundation of morality. One of those (...) philosophers was Francis Hutcheson; his differences with his contemporaries and with Hume are reviewed in the second and third parts of the essay. In the fourth and final section, I examine Hume's attempt to reconcile the foundation of morality, as he under-stood it, the sentiment of humanity, with the principles of utility and agreeableness. And an attempt is made, finally, to explain why Hume's critics perceived Hume's Enquiry to be the work of an Epicurean and a sceptic. (shrink)
In various areas of Anglo-American law, legal liability turns on causation. In torts and contracts, we are each liable only for those harms we have caused by the actions that breach our legal duties. Such doctrines explicitly make causation an element of liability. In criminal law, sometimes the causal element for liability is equally explicit, as when a statute makes punishable any act that has “ caused … abuse to the child….” More often, the causal element in criminal liability is (...) more implicit, as when criminal statutes prohibit killings, maimings, rapings, burnings, etc. Such causally complex action verbs are correctly applied only to defendants who have caused death, caused disfigurement, caused penetration, caused fire damage, etc. (shrink)
In her book Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America's Tradition of Religious Equality the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum joins a chorus of American intellectuals who have criticized France and other European nations for their failure to embrace the concept of cultural pluralism. In Nussbaum's opinion, the meaning that the French attach to egalité has remained stuck in circumstances peculiar to the eighteenth century. The concept is outdated and has not in the contemporary world been able to protect cultural diversity (...) in general and religious diversity in particular. Her book takes to task what she terms “the French tradition of “coercive assimilation” that is insensitive to what George Washington stressed as the “‘delicacy and tenderness’ that is owed to other people's ‘conscientious scruples.’” The French refusal to allow Muslim schoolgirls to cover their heads with a foulard, however stylish it might be, is linked back to the French emancipation of Jews that required, in Nussbaum's analysis, a heavy requirement of cultural erasure. The French, like most Europeans, grew used to the idea “that citizens are all alike,” an idea that now haunts France as it tries to figure out what to do with its Muslim population. (shrink)
I have two aims in this paper. In §§2-4 I contend that Moore has two arguments (not one) for the view that that ‘good’ denotes a non-natural property not to be identified with the naturalistic properties of science and common sense (or, for that matter, the more exotic properties posited by metaphysicians and theologians). The first argument, the Barren Tautology Argument (or the BTA), is derived, via Sidgwick, from a long tradition of anti-naturalist polemic. But the second argument, the (...) Open Question Argument proper (or the OQA), seems to have been Moore’s own invention and was probably devised to deal with naturalistic theories, such as Russell’s, which are immune to the Barren Tautology Argument. The OQA is valid and not (as Frankena (1939) has alleged) question-begging. Moreover, if its premises were true, it would have disposed of the desire-to-desire theory. But as I explain in §5, from 1970 onwards, two key premises of the OQA were successively called into question, the one because philosophers came to believe in synthetic identities between properties and the other because it led to the Paradox of Analysis. By 1989 a philosopher like Lewis could put forward precisely the kind of theory that Moore professed to have refuted with a clean intellectual conscience. However, in §§6-8 I shall argue that all is not lost for the OQA. I first press an objection to the desire-to-desire theory derived from Kripke’s famous epistemic argument. On reflection this argument looks uncannily like the OQA. But the premise on which it relies is weaker than the one that betrayed Moore by leading to the Paradox of Analysis. This suggests three conclusions: 1) that the desire-to-desire theory is false; 2) that the OQA can be revived, albeit in a modified form; and 3) that the revived OQA poses a serious threat to what might be called semantic naturalism. (shrink)
According to Jim Pryor’s dogmatism, if you have an experience as if P, you acquire immediate prima facie justification for believing P. Pryor contends that dogmatism validates Moore’s infamous proof of a material world. Against Pryor, I argue that if dogmatism is true, Moore’s proof turns out to be non-transmissive of justification according to one of the senses of non-transmissivity defined by Crispin Wright. This type of non-transmissivity doesn’t deprive dogmatism of its apparent antisceptical bite.
We shall evaluate two strategies for motivating the view that knowledge is the norm of belief. The first draws on observations concerning belief's aim and the parallels between belief and assertion. The second appeals to observations concerning Moore's Paradox. Neither of these strategies gives us good reason to accept the knowledge account. The considerations offered in support of this account motivate only the weaker account on which truth is the fundamental norm of belief.
The aim of this paper is to argue that what I call the simple theory of introspection can be extended to account for our introspective knowledge of what we believe as well as what we consciously experience. In section one, I present the simple theory of introspection and motivate the extension from experience to belief. In section two, I argue that extending the simple theory provides a solution to Moore’s paradox by explaining why believing Moorean conjunctions always involves some (...) degree of irrationality. In section three, I argue that it also solves the puzzle of transparency by explaining why it’s rational to answer the question whether one believes that p by answering the question whether p. Finally, in section four, I defend the simple theory against objections by arguing that self-knowledge constitutes an ideal of rationality. (shrink)
Expressivists explain the expression relation which obtains between sincere moral assertion and the conative or affective attitude thereby expressed by appeal to the relation which obtains between sincere assertion and belief. In fact, they often explicitly take the relation between moral assertion and their favored conative or affective attitude to be exactly the same as the relation between assertion and the belief thereby expressed. If this is correct, then we can use the identity of the expression relation in the two (...) cases to test the expressivist account as a descriptive or hermeneutic account of moral discourse. I formulate one such test, drawing on a standard explanation of Moore's paradox. I show that if expressivism is correct as a descriptive account of moral discourse, then we should expect versions of Moore's paradox where we explicitly deny that we possess certain affective or conative attitudes. I then argue that the constructions that mirror Moore's paradox are not incoherent. It follows that expressivism is either incorrect as a hermeneutic account of moral discourse or that the expression relation which holds between sincere moral assertion and affective or conative attitudes is not identical to the relation which holds between sincere non-moral assertion and belief. A number of objections are canvassed and rejected. (shrink)
It is well known that the probabilistic relation of confirmation is not transitive in that even if E confirms H1 and H1 confirms H2, E may not confirm H2. In this paper we distinguish four senses of confirmation and examine additional conditions under which confirmation in different senses becomes transitive. We conduct this examination both in the general case where H1 confirms H2 and in the special case where H1 also logically entails H2. Based on these analyses, we argue that (...) the Screening-Off Condition is the most important condition for transitivity in confirmation because of its generality and ease of application. We illustrate our point with the example of Moore’s “proof” of the existence of a material world, where H1 logically entails H2, the Screening-Off Condition holds, and confirmation in all four senses turns out to be transitive. (shrink)
Propositions such as are paradoxical, in that even though they can be true, they cannot be truly asserted or believed. This is Moore’s paradox. Sydney Shoemaker has recently ar- gued that the paradox arises from a constitutive relation that holds between ﬁrst- and second-order beliefs. This paper explores this approach to the paradox. Although Shoemaker’s own account of the paradox is rejected, a diﬀerent account along similar lines is endorsed. At the core of the endorsed account is the claim (...) that conscious beliefs are always partly about themselves; it will be shown to follow from this that conscious beliefs in Moorean propositions are self-contradictory. (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)
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.
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)
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. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine how philosophers before and after G. E. Moore understood intrinsic value. The main idea I wish to bring out and defend is that Moore was insufficiently attentive to how distinctive his conception of intrinsic value was, as compared with those of the writers he discussed, and that such inattentiveness skewed his understanding of the positions of others that he discussed and dismissed. My way into this issue is by examining the charge of inconsistency (...) that Moore levels at the qualitative hedonism outlined by J. S. Mill in Utilitarianism. Along the way I suggest that there are a number of ways in which Moore was unfair in rejecting qualitative hedonism as inconsistent. I close by relating the issues that arise in discussion of Moore to contemporary debates on value and reasons. (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’s writings on external world skepticism show us, in broad outline, how to dispense with external world skepticism in a way that is satisfying, intellectually responsible, and yet avoids engaging in constructive epistemological theory-building altogether. His work thus reveals something very important about the relation between epistemology and ordinary life, and also about what it would take to reach a satisfying resolution of certain sorts of perennial philosophical problems.
We develop a reading of Moore’s “Proof of an External World” that emphasizes the connections between this paper and Moore’s earlier concerns and strategies. Our reading has the benefit of explaining why the claims that Moore advances in “Proof of an External World” would have been of interest to him, and avoids attributing to him arguments that are either trivial or wildly unsuccessful. Part of the evidence for our view comes from unpublished drafts which, we believe, contain (...) important clues concerning Moore’s aims and intent. While our approach to PEW may be classified alongside other broadly "metaphysical" readings, we believe that a proper recognition of the continuity in Moore’s philosophical concerns and strategies across his philosophical career shows that the customary distinction between "epistemological" and "metaphysical" interpretative approaches to PEW is at best superficial. (shrink)