Moore’s Paradox and Limits in Language Use

A3 Book section, Chapters in research books

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Yrsa Neuman
Editors: Hanne Appelqvist
Place: New York
Publication year: 2019
Publisher: Routledge
Book title: Wittgenstein and the Limits of Language
Title of series: Routledge Studies in Twentieth-Century Philosophy
ISBN: 9780815385011
eISBN: 9781351202671


paradox, the tangle associated with the phrase “I believe it is raining and
it’s not raining” got Wittgenstein philosophically excited. He treated the
issue both in detail and at large over many years. A central theme of general
interpretative debate has been whether he, as a feature of his philosophical
method, aimed to establish some kinds of limits of language use or not. In this
chapter, I revisit some presumptive candidates for such limits and respond
negatively to the question. Rather than presenting more or less complete
philosophical analyses of psychological concepts or invoking “limits” of
language (here related to grammatical features of belief ascription and
expression and our relation to our own words in contrast to those of others),
Wittgenstein’s remarks in relation to Moore’s paradox work as reminders of
specific features of language use. These features of language use are ones that
philosophers are prone to overlook, and as a consequence they end up in
philosophical confusion – and in our case, the disregard of these features is
what is required to entertain Moore’s paradox.

provides a methodological antidote to the assumption that the issue at stake is
some kind of logical obstacle to asserting the Moorean sentence: it is when
treated cold or void of context of use that such sentences display the Moorean
feature. Instead of ruling out certain ways of speaking as special cases, they
can be treated inclusively as different instances of use. When presented in
circumstances in which they can do work, moorean sentences loose their
paradoxical feature, and of what seemed to be a paradox, we are left with mere
pieces of surface grammar.


Moore's paradox, Philosophy, Wittgenstein, Ludwig


Last updated on 2020-16-07 at 05:45