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By Willis (ed) Doney

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Extra resources for Descartes: A Collection of Critical Essays

Sample text

E. Moore contradictory proposition such as the proposition that I am at present sitting down, if there be a person, for instance some friend of mine in England, who does not know that this proposition is false, then, in his case, from the conjunction of the fact that tlle proposition is not self-contradictory with ilie fact that he does not know it to be false, it does follow that he could say with truth 'It is logically possible that Moore is at present sitting down'; but if there be another person, myself for instance, who does know that the proposition is false, it is by no means clear iliat from the mere fact that the proposition is not self-contradictory-from that fact alone-it follows iliat I can truly say 'It is logically possible that I am at present sitting down'.

In short I think that even the expression 'It is logically possible that so-and-so is the case' retains the characteristic which we have seen to belong to one ordinary use of the expression 'It is possible that so-and-so is the case', namely that it can only be said with truth by a person who does not know tllat the so-and-so in question is not the case. If I were to say now 'It is logically possible that I am sitting down' I should be implying that I don't know that I'm not, and therefore implying something which, if I do know that I'm not, is false.

E. Moore to the mind of the person who makes it is ever certain. Take anyone of the seven you like: the case for saying that I knew that one to be true when I made it is as strong as the case ever is for saying of any proposition which implies the existence of something external to the mind of the person who makes it, that that person knows it to be true. This, it will be seen, is not a matter of logic. Obviously it is logically possible, for instance, that it should have been false then that I knew I was standing up and yet should be true now that I know I am standing up.

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