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Moore's Paradox

 
 
Ahab
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 09:32 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;139090 wrote:
As we have already seen, what you can say, need not be any indication of what is true. Of course I can ask where your cat is, since it need not be where you believe it is. I would not ask you, since I already know where you believe it is.


Yes, because I have just expressed my belief that the cat is on the mat.

The most common expression of belief is the simple assertion "The cat is on the mat." If I make that assertion, it makes no sense to go on and ask me what I believe regarding the matter of the cat's whereabouts. I've already told you that.

We preface that simple assertion with "I believe that" in order to indicate possibility of error. "I believe that" is not a mark of an expression of belief, for the mere assertion is also an expression of belief.

In fact, whether or not we express our beilef in a simple assertion or preface it with "I believe that" we may be mistaken.

"The cat is on the mat" and "I believe the cat is not on the mat." are contradictory assertions. In each one I take a partcular position on the cat's whereabout and those positions contradict each other. If you join them into a single statement you end up with a contradiction.

It is mistaken to think that either of the above expression of my belief are assertions about myself (e.g., some inner mental state of belief), they are assertions about where the cat is.

I'm am basing my position here on the analyses that A.W. Collins conducts of expressions of belief in his book The Nature of Mental Things. He spends about 30 pages discussing this, so I am unable to present all the nuances and side issues he raises due to limitations of space here.
Unfortunately that book is out of print. Even the paperback used copies of the book are rather expensive.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 10:20 am
@Ahab,
Ahab;139322 wrote:
Yes, because I have just expressed my belief that the cat is on the mat.

The most common expression of belief is the simple assertion "The cat is on the mat." If I make that assertion, it makes no sense to go on and ask me what I believe regarding the matter of the cat's whereabouts. I've already told you that.

We preface that simple assertion with "I believe that" in order to indicate possibility of error. "I believe that" is not a mark of an expression of belief, for the mere assertion is also an expression of belief.

In fact, whether or not we express our beilef in a simple assertion or preface it with "I believe that" we may be mistaken.

"The cat is on the mat" and "I believe the cat is not on the mat." are contradictory assertions. In each one I take a partcular position on the cat's whereabout and those positions contradict each other. If you join them into a single statement you end up with a contradiction.

It is mistaken to think that either of the above expression of my belief are assertions about myself (e.g., some inner mental state of belief), they are assertions about where the cat is.

I'm am basing my position here on the analyses that A.W. Collins conducts of expressions of belief in his book The Nature of Mental Things. He spends about 30 pages discussing this, so I am unable to present all the nuances and side issues he raises due to limitations of space here.
Unfortunately that book is out of print. Even the paperback used copies of the book are rather expensive.



But isn't the issue not whether the assertion that it is raining implies that the asserter believes it is raining, but how it can be true that he cannot assert both that he believes it is raining, and also that it is not raining, although it can be true that it is raining, and it is not in fact raining? I agree that the speaker believes it is raining, of course. But why it should be impossible for what is true to be asserted. It is that which is paradoxical. And my explanation of the paradox is that there is a difference between truth conditions and assertability conditions, and that furthermore, although they often coincide, they sometimes conflict, as in this instance. So I don't disagree with your post, but I don't see how it is relevant to the issue.
Ahab
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 11:04 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;139328 wrote:
But isn't the issue not whether the assertion that it is raining implies that the asserter believes it is raining, but how it can be true that he cannot assert both that he believes it is raining, and also that it is not raining, although it can be true that it is raining, and it is not in fact raining? I agree that the speaker believes it is raining, of course. But why it should be impossible for what is true to be asserted. It is that which is paradoxical. And my explanation of the paradox is that there is a difference between truth conditions and assertability conditions, and that furthermore, although they often coincide, they sometimes conflict, as in this instance. So I don't disagree with your post, but I don't see how it is relevant to the issue.


If I understand the colored sentence correctly, we are in agreement on this but approaching it slightly differently.

Here is the Assertion Principle I mentioned in an ealier post. (Again, I Collins used this principe in his analyses.)

Assertion Principle: If a statement q is an assertion of p, then q is true, if, and only if, p is true.


Collins provides an example of a statement which clearly illustraes the falsity of this principle:

p, or I am much mistaken.

I'll quote Collins directly on this:

"It is clear that the assertive content here is really only p, since the truth value of p is what determines the truth or falsehood of both of the elements disjointed in this assertion. The first disjunct is p, and it has, in consequence, the truth value of p. The second disjunct is intended as the claim that as one who takes the stand that p is true, I will be mistaken if p is false. Of course, if I assert just p, without this curious appendage, I am mistaken if p is false. So the second disjunct "goes without saying" for someone who assers p. But the disjunction "p or I am much mistaken" will be true whether or not p is true. It manages this by canvassing the possibiliy of being mistaken in advance. The disjunction will be false only in case p is false and I am not mistaken about p, in other words if I do not believe that p. The form of words preserves truth in the face of the falsehood of what it asserts by disjoining assertion of p with the recognition that if p fails, the speaker is mistaken. In this way "p, or I am much mistaken" and, with it, "I believe that p", which expresses the same recognition of the possibility of error, stand as counterinstances to the Assertion Principle. The so-called "Principe" is only a generally reliable and plausible statement, which fails in some logically tricky but intelligible cases. Expressions of belief that allude to the possibility of error in case p is false are among those special cases that contradict it. They may be true when p is false. They assert p, notwhithstanding." The Nature of Mental Things, pp. 31-32.
0 Replies
 
Akeron
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 12:32 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;137853 wrote:
G.E. Moore once remarked in a lecture that although it makes no sense to say, "It is raining, but I don't believe it", it can nevertheless be true that it is raining and I don't believe it. How can saying what can be true make no sense?


"It is raining..."

Thus, the speaker acknowledges an event...

"...but I don't believe it."

...and this must be false because acknowledgment requires belief.

It's a literary device used to garnish attention by being simple and overlooking intricacies. That's all. Nothing too complicated.

On the other hand, the speaker's mind might be split, but if that's the case, then he doesn't deserve any attention because he's crazy.
GilesField
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 11:33 pm
@Akeron,
[SIZE="4"]That's Moore Like It![/SIZE]

An Attempted Refutation of Moore's Paradox from First Person Pronouns and Universal Truth

By Giles Field

According to Wikipedia 'Moore's paradox is that it is absurd to make statements like "It's raining outside but I don't believe that it is", even though they are often true.'
It also goes on to state that the paradox is set up as follows;

1. It can be true at a particular time both that p, and that I do not believe that p.
2. I can assert or believe one of the two at a particular time.
3. I cannot without absurdity assert or believe both of them at the same time.

The paradox falls at the first hurdle however. 'I do not believe that p' can be an assertion or a belief but not, as the paradox dictates, a fact. As soon as the first person 'I' is used then assertion or belief is assumed ie. it has to be an opinion coming from a particular person, namely the speaker, and can no longer be fact as it is not universally true. p, or 'It is raining', on the other hand, can be an assertion or belief but also fact (or at least a view shared by others).

The 'sleight of hand' of Moore's paradox is that 'I don't believe that p' looks very much like a factual statement, and when it is phrased by a third person; such as 'He doesn't believe that p', it is. This is because multiple people can share the view. A simple test of (potential) universal truth is if the belief can be shared by others. 'I' statements are singular and don't qualify as fact as they can never be universally true, they are simply beliefs and assertions. 'I am here', 'I believe in God' and 'I am going down to JB Hi-Fi' are, not in actuality, facts, but assertions. You very may well be going down to JB Hi-Fi, which would make it fact, but simply believing it does not make it so. 'I am going down to JB Hi-Fi' by definition can't be believed by more than one because if your mate Freddo thought 'I am going down to JB Hi-Fi' then he would be talking about himself and not you. He could say however 'You are going down to JB Hi-Fi and you don't believe it'. This is not a Moorean paradox because it is possible I am misled, ignorant or just plain delusional about going down to JB Hi-Fi.

Another way to put it is that 'I' statements are not universally true and are therefore can never be fact.

To continue, p can be both true and also asserted and believed at a particular time alongside other facts, as long as they are facts and not beliefs and assertions.

For example if we look at the paradox in its commission form; 'It is raining but I believe it is not raining' the absurdity remains because when the statements are joined together they become a belief or an assertion. We can test if it is fact by asking 'Can this belief be shared by others?' Once again the first person use renders this only valid for the speaker and therefore an assertion or belief. It then follows that there is a contradiction because you can't believe and not believe things at the same time.

Simply put 'It is raining but I don't believe it' is a contradictory assertion about contradictory things - you can't believe it and not believe it is raining at the same time! The 'paradox' comes if you split up the assertion and look at it to see if it is factually contradictory too. This is simple with the first half; 'It is raining' can indeed be a fact. The second portion and, because it contains the first person 'I', reason that the combined statements can't be fact, is not fact on it's own either. If you don't look closely however 'I don't believe p' can look like a fact and the paradox magically appears. 'I don't believe p' is, and always will be, an assertion and will never be separate fact the way 'p' is.
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 11:54 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;137853 wrote:
G.E. Moore once remarked in a lecture that although it makes no sense to say, "It is raining, but I don't believe it", it can nevertheless be true that it is raining and I don't believe it. How can saying what can be true make no sense?


Is it not the same as asserting P, and belief of P? Are they not different notions?
GilesField
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 12:20 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;144401 wrote:
Is it not the same as asserting P, and belief of P? Are they not different notions?


I think P can be

1. Asserted
and/or
2. Believed
and/or
3. Fact

Anyone else?
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 12:46 am
@GilesField,
GilesField;144404 wrote:
I think P can be

1. Asserted
and/or
2. Believed
and/or
3. Fact

Anyone else?


How do you interpret P if not as a true proposition?
GilesField
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 12:56 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;144411 wrote:
How do you interpret P if not as a true proposition?


I am not sure I understand your meaning. Surely P can be false?
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 01:06 am
@GilesField,
GilesField;144414 wrote:
I am not sure I understand your meaning. Surely P can be false?



P stands for it is raining is true.

-p stands for it is raining is false.


That is why "P or -P" is always true
GilesField
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 01:20 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;144417 wrote:
P stands for it is raining is true.

-p stands for it is raining is false.


That is why "P or -P" is always true


I would argue that p simply stands for the phrase 'It is raining" (or similar)
I don't think you necessarily have to believe it. P can be believed, not believed, asserted, not asserted, fact, not fact or a (non contradictory) combination of them.
That's how I saw it anyway in my refutation a few posts ago. Maybe I am mistaken?
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 02:08 am
@GilesField,
GilesField;144420 wrote:
I would argue that p simply stands for the phrase 'It is raining" (or similar)


That is the convention in all logical textbooks, and literature. P stands for 'p' is true.
GilesField
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 02:22 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;144431 wrote:
That is the convention in all logical textbooks, and literature. P stands for 'p' is true.


Assuming you are right, what follows?
Just to clarify, is this an argument against my refutation? Or is this a different line of thought?
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 02:35 am
@GilesField,
GilesField;144435 wrote:
Assuming you are right, what follows?
Just to clarify, is this an argument against my refutation? Or is this a different line of thought?


I said moore ` s paradox has two parts. P, and belief of P. It is not really a paradox.
GilesField
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 03:01 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;144443 wrote:
I said moore ` s paradox has two parts. P, and belief of P. It is not really a paradox.


But it's the fact that they can be true at the same time but that you can't assert them together that makes it a paradox isn't it?
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 03:39 am
@GilesField,
GilesField;144448 wrote:
But it's the fact that they can be true at the same time but that you can't assert them together that makes it a paradox isn't it?


Why can` t you assert them together? Truth and belief are different notions.
GilesField
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 04:02 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;144453 wrote:
Why can` t you assert them together? Truth and belief are different notions.


But if they're true then surely you should able to assert them together without being absurd.
I think the reason that it seems absurd is rather because the use of 'I' negates universal truth. (see earlier)
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 04:27 am
@GilesField,
GilesField;144463 wrote:
But if they're true then surely you should able to assert them together without being absurd.


But they are not absurd. To assert P, and belief of P is not absurd.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 05:09 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;144443 wrote:
I said moore ` s paradox has two parts. P, and belief of P. It is not really a paradox.


The paradox is that it can make no sense to assert something that is true. That it is true that I can believe it is raining, and it not be raining, but that it makes no sense to assert the sentence, "I believe it is raining, but it is not raining".
GilesField
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 05:59 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;144490 wrote:
The paradox is that it can make no sense to assert something that is true. That it is true that I can believe it is raining, and it not be raining, but that it makes no sense to assert the sentence, "I believe it is raining, but it is not raining".


Ken, what do you think of my contention that it can't be true that I believe it is raining because it is not universally true? (See earlier)
 

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