Tuesday, March 11, 2014

[PHI 3000] I have learned that p but I don't believe it

G. E. Moore is credited for pointing out the absurdity of sentences such as the following:
  1. I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don't believe that I did.
  2. It is raining and I don't believe it.
Someone who utters either (1) or (2) seems to have contradicted himself or herself without uttering an outright contradiction. That is, (1) and (2) have the form 'p & ~Bp' (or 'p & B~p'), whereas an outright contradiction has the form 'p & ~p' (where 'B' stands for "Believe").

Now, consider the case of Julie Boonstra, who has "learned that Obamacare won't kill her but refuses to believe it." More precisely, Boonstra has learned that her new health care plan is actually cheaper than her old plan, but she refuses to believe that.

Is it absurd in the same way that (1) and (2) seem absurd, then, for one to say "I have learned that p but I don't believe that p"?

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