Wiki. Source.

Kennethamy:

Well, here is an example: in English we use the terms, “believe” and “know” very differently, from which we can infer that there is a difference between “believing” and “knowing”. For instance, we say, “Joe believes that La Paz is the capital of Ecuador, but he is wrong”. We never say, “Joe knows that La Paz is the capital of Ecuador, but he is wrong”. However, we have to be cautious. There are often extraneous circumstances which govern what we say so that if we attend only to what we say, will mislead us. A good example is that we do not say “It is raining, but I do not believe it is raining”. But that cannot show that it cannot be true that it is raining but I not believe it is raining. (Moore’s Paradox). Here is an interesting example of a sentence that may be true, but which, for extraneous factors not having to do with its semantics (meaning) it would make no sense to say.

Emil:

What is funny about “It is raining, but I do not believe it is raining” is that it is equivalent with “It is raining and Moore does not believe that it rains” (since “I” refers to Moore). However the latter one is not viewed as paradoxical. The difference seems to be that it is an implicit assumption in most communication contexts that the utterer (here Moore) believes what he claims. With that assumption in mind, we get the contradiction: It is raining, Moore does not believe that it is raining and (from the assumption and the utterance) Moore believes that it is raining. Thus, Moore believes and does not believe that it is raining. Voila!

Kennethamy:

(since “I” refers to Moore).

Why do you think that? Do you think that when Descartes wrote, “I think, therefore I exist” he was referring to Descartes? He was referring to no one in particular. The first person personal pronoun there is a very impersonal personal pronoun, just as when I say something like, “If you believe that the claim that a miracle has occurred is justifiable, then you are wrong”need not be addressed to anyone in particular. The “you” there just means the impersonal, “one”. (As in the French, “on” and the German, “Man”). But your explanation of the paradox is right. A person who makes a claim is assumed either to believe or know what he claims. (In fact, Moore pointed that out in a different context). But that fact about conversation is not about the semantics of what the person says, it is about the pragmatics of what he said. It does not seem to me that the person who says, “It is raining and I don’t believe it” is contradicting himself (and you did not say he was). But, as you said, from the premises that the person who says it is raining but that he does not believe it, together with the premise that he does believe it is raining, a contradiction can be derived. But that, to repeat, is no reason to think that the person is contradicting himself.

Emil:

Why do you think that?

I never heard of impersonal “I”‘s before. The pronoun “I” refers to the speaker, you defined it yourself in another thread.

Do you think that when Descartes wrote, “I think, therefore I exist” he was referring to Descartes?

Yes.

He was referring to no one in particular.

I disagree. I think he was referring to himself. But alas, the justification works equally well no matter who uses the argument. That does not imply that the “I” is impersonal.

The first person personal pronoun there is a very impersonal personal pronoun, just as when I say something like, “If you believe that the claim that a miracle has occurred is justifiable, then you are wrong”need not be addressed to anyone in particular. The “you” there just means the impersonal, “one”. (As in the French, “on” and the German, “Man”).

Or the danish “man”, (The german one isn’t capitalized, since “man” isn’t a noun but “Mann” is (means man). To avoid confusion with impersonal and personal pronouns in english, I try to always use “one” but it slips from time to time. You know, the bewitchment of our language.

But, as you said, from the premises that the person who says it is raining but that he does not believe it, together with the premise that he does believe it is raining, a contradiction can be derived. But that, to repeat, is no reason to think that the person is contradicting himself.

Right. Here is a more formal argument for the ‘contradiction’.

1. Moore utters “It is raining but I don’t believe it.”

2. For any person and any utterance, if the utterance is uttered in a truthful context, then the person believes all the propositions expressed by his utterance.

3. “It is raining but I don’t believe it.” was uttered in a truthful context.

Thus, 4. Moore believes all the propositions expressed by this utterance. (2, 3)

5. The propositions expressed by “It is raining but I don’t believe it.” are {that it is raining, that Moore doesn’t believe that it is raining}.

Thus, 6. Moore believes that it is raining. (4, 5)

Thus, 7. Moore believes that Moore doesn’t believe that it is raining. (4, 5)

This isn’t actually a contradiction, but it is somewhat paradoxical in a looser sense.

If we include the utterance (re-worded) as a premise. A contradiction follows:

8. It is raining and Moore doesn’t believe that it is raining.

Thus, 9. Moore doesn’t believe that it is raining. (8)

Thus, 10. Moore doesn’t believe that it is raining and Moore believes that it is raining. (6, 9)

0 Comments

Leave a Reply