Moore's Paradox: New Essays on Belief, Rationality, and the First Person

By Mitchell Green; John N. Williams | Go to book overview

4
The Normative Character of Belief

Thomas Baldwin


1

Moore points to the absurdity of saying such things as ‘I don’t believe that it’s raining, though as a matter of fact it is’ and ‘I believe he has gone out, but he has not’ (Moore 1942: 543; 1959: 175; 1993: 207). He goes on to argue that this kind of absurdity is paradoxical because it disappears once these statements are conjugated into the past tense, as in ‘I did not then believe it was raining, though as a matter of fact it was’, or expressed in the third-person as ‘Moore does not believe that it’s raining, though as a matter of fact it is’ (Moore 1993: 208–9). For these transformations can be understood to be ways of expressing the very same proposition as was expressed by the initial statement; and it is, he suggests, paradoxical that for each of us there is a type of statement about ourselves which we cannot make without absurdity even though the proposition thereby expressed, so far from being self-contradictory, may well be true and can be expressed in other ways without absurdity.

Moore goes on to suggest that the resolution of this paradox lies in taking account of what one ‘implies’ by making a statement in addition to what one ‘means’ by it (Moore 1993: 210). In saying ‘I don’t believe that it’s raining, though as a matter of fact it is’, I imply by the second clause that I believe that it is raining; and since this implication conflicts with what I mean by the first clause, my statement is absurd: what I imply contradicts what I mean or assert. Furthermore, the fact that the statement’s absurdity is not preserved by transformations of it into the past tense or the third-person is explained by the fact that although these transformations preserve the proposition expressed, they alter the implications inherent in expressing the proposition in one way rather than another. In using the past tense (‘I did not then believe it was raining,

I am much indebted to John Williams and to an anonymous referee for comments on earlier versions of this paper.

-76-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Moore's Paradox: New Essays on Belief, Rationality, and the First Person
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 247

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.