We all know that G.E. Moore famously pointed out that there is something extremely odd about statements like ‘It’s raining, but I don’t believe it is’, even though such statements would often be true. Unger, Williamson, and others have claimed that the same applies to statements such as ‘It’s raining, but I don’t know that it is’.
If we switch to the third-person, such statements don’t sound odd at all: ‘It’s raining, but she doesn’t believe it is’ and ‘It’s raining, but he doesn’t know it is’ both sound just fine. Likewise, the sense of paradox disappears even in the first-person when we speak in the eternal present, as I would, for example, were I asked to describe what I was doing in a video recording of my past self (‘Oh, look, how quaint: it’s raining, but I don’t believe it!’)
The sense of paradox isn’t limited to statements of the form ‘Q, but I don’t believe/know that Q’. It also infects statements such as: ‘not-Q, although I believe Q’ and ‘Q, although I believe that not-Q’.
I’m not aware of any discussion of the correlative first-person plural statements, such as the following one I came across in a recent article:
“Kids are kids,” said Danielle Kessenger, 39, a mother of three young children from Jacksonville, Fla., who supports providing contraceptives to those who request them. “I was a teenager once and parents don’t know everything, though we think we do.”
So, two questions.
First, do you think that statements of the form ‘Not-Q, but we believe Q’ likewise sound odd?
Second, do you know whether the the first-person plural version is discussed in the literature?
I’ll reserve expressing my opinion about the first question, although I don’t believe I will.