Moore’s Paradox

What is Moore’s Paradox?

Imagine you’re standing outside, and it’s raining. Now, imagine saying, “It is raining, but I don’t believe it is.” That’s what Moore’s Paradox is about: making a statement that on the surface seems to be a big “no-no” because it says one thing and also says you don’t believe that very thing.

Moore’s Paradox is a brain twister that gets us to think deeply about how what we say relates to what we believe. It’s like saying, “I’m eating an apple, but I don’t believe I’m eating an apple.” It doesn’t make a lot of sense at first, but it’s also not strictly speaking, a mix-up in logic, because both parts can be true separately – just not at the same time.


The puzzle started with a British thinker named G.E. Moore. He talked about it a long time ago, like over a hundred years ago. Moore puzzled over sentences where someone says what’s happening (like it’s raining) but then also says they don’t believe it (like they don’t believe it’s raining). This seems really weird because if it’s true, why wouldn’t they believe it?

The big surprise that Moore noticed is that often our words clash not because of the facts but because of what we say we believe. Like, if it’s really raining, it doesn’t stop being true if you don’t believe it. The brain teaser is why someone would say they don’t believe it when they’re also saying it’s true.

Thorough Definitions of Moore’s Paradox

1. Moore’s Paradox is when someone makes two statements that seem to fight against each other but aren’t truly saying opposite things. It’s like having a puzzle with two pieces that look like they shouldn’t fit together but don’t actually conflict when you understand what’s underneath.

2. It’s also about trust and honesty in our words. When people talk, we usually expect what they say to fit with what they think. Moore’s Paradox throws a wrench into this by showing us sentences that sound absurd because they break this basic rule.

Key Arguments

  • Saying you believe one thing and don’t believe it at the same time looks silly but doesn’t have to be wrong in a strict logical sense.
  • This paradox digs into how we express belief and trust, not only the way sentences are put together.
  • It helps us see the tricky dance between what we believe for ourselves and what others believe when we talk about those beliefs.
  • It also brings up how much the situation, the speaker’s goals, and what listeners think can change the game.

Answer or Resolution

Moore’s Paradox isn’t like a riddle that has an easy answer. It doesn’t make us look for a mistake in our thinking the way other brain teasers do. Instead, it makes us wonder about words, thoughts, and what we believe to be true.

Thinkers have come up with many ideas about it. Some say it’s all about understanding the difference between talking about what we believe and actually believing it. Others suggest that it helps us learn the rules of chit-chat, where we expect what people say to match what’s in their heads.

Another idea is that it shows us what happens when people aren’t being genuine. We usually think that when someone speaks, they mean it. But Moore’s Paradox happens when people’s words don’t match their true thoughts.


  • “I have a brother, but I don’t believe that I do.” This is an example of Moore’s Paradox because a person is making a claim about having a sibling while at the same time stating that they don’t hold that belief, creating an odd mix of affirmation and denial.
  • “The Earth revolves around the Sun, but I don’t believe that it does.” This example illustrates the paradox because, despite overwhelming evidence and common acceptance, the speaker is disavowing belief in the claim they just made, showcasing the difference between factual statements and belief.
  • “I know I locked the door, but I don’t believe I did.” It’s paradoxical because the speaker acknowledges personal knowledge of an action while simultaneously expressing doubt about the same action.

Major Criticism

Some people think Moore’s Paradox is more about how our minds work than about actual logic problems. They say it’s just about how we can hold mixed-up thoughts, not about sentences that go against each other. Critics say by only looking at what we think, instead of how we put words together, the riddle isn’t as deep as it seems.

Other critics say it’s not showing us anything new or big but just shows that people sometimes mix up their words and thoughts.

Practical Applications

It might seem like just a fun oddity, but Moore’s Paradox helps in some important areas:

  • Philosophy of Language: It opens up debates about how purpose and the setting can change what we mean and how people understand us.
  • Psychology: The puzzle points to how we can have thoughts that clash, like when we believe two opposite things at the same time, known as cognitive dissonance.
  • Linguistics: It becomes a tool for studying how trust works in communication and the unspoken expectations we have when we talk and listen.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Figuring out how people really mean what they say can help program computers and robots that understand and use human languages.

Related Topics

  • Cognitive Dissonance: This is when a person has two thoughts that don’t match, like when they do something they know isn’t good but also think of themselves as a good person.
  • Philosophy of Mind: This is thinking about how minds work, and it’s tied to Moore’s Paradox because it explores what belief really is.
  • Pragmatics: In linguistics, this is the study of how people use words in real life, which matters for Moore’s Paradox because it’s all about the unexpected ways people might speak.

Importance of Moore’s Paradox

Even though this paradox might seem like just big brain twister, it has some real-world impact. For most of us, what is said and believed should line up. But Moore’s Paradox helps us think about what happens when they don’t. It’s important because it shows us that speaking and believing are two separate things that usually go hand in hand, but sometimes they don’t. This can be helpful for anyone trying to understand how we communicate and what we actually mean.


Wrapping all of this up, Moore’s Paradox isn’t just some weird statement that philosophers like to think about. It’s a real puzzle that can teach us a ton about how we talk, think, and believe. It reminds us that what we say isn’t always what’s in our heads and makes us ask why that is. Whether you’re into philosophy, psychology, understanding languages, or building smart robots, this odd twist of words and beliefs can shine a light on how complex and interesting our minds and conversations really are.