Moore's Paradox and Norms of Belief and Assertion in Japanese
Masashi Kasaki (Hiroshima University)

part of: Is Belief Weak?
September 6, 2022, 4:00pm - 7:00pm

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Zhejiang University

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Abstract: Moore’s paradox is induced by the infelicity of sincere assertions of certain forms. I call them “Moore paradoxical forms.” They involve a conjunction of an indicative sentence and a present-tense first-person psychological verb scoping over the same indicative sentence. Several psychological verbs are often used in Moore paradoxical forms: “believe,” “know,” and “be certain.” It remains unsettled what makes assertions of Moore paradoxical forms infelicitous. Some attempt to explain their infelicity by appealing to either a norm of belief or a norm of assertion. In this talk, I explore what can be said about norms of belief and assertion in Japanese by considering the Japanese counterparts of Moore paradoxical forms and other related linguistic phenomena. First, I suggest that, due to specific features of Japanese, there are circumstances in which Moore paradoxical forms may not be treated in a parallel fashion between English and Japanese. Second, this exploration also reveals different pragmatic functions of “I believe” in Japanese. Finally, I argue that it is difficult, if not impossible, to use Moore’s paradox to motivate a norm of belief or assertion.

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