Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Deep Thoughts XIII

You can never go wrong[note 1] believing a tautology.

11 comments:

Tom said...

Can you believe a tautology? That is, can you believe a tautology?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Well, if you can't believe it, then you certainly can't go wrong believing it!

semper creditum said...

suppose x believes what x expresses by 'Hes is Hes' but it turns out 'Hes' is empty? It seems to me that even if x believes a gappy proposition, and even if you manage to assign 'True' to it, the believer has gone wrong.

only in the idealized world of formal languages can you be sure you're not going wrong.

Alexander R Pruss said...

I think something is only a tautology if it is a necessarily true proposition. My own view is that gappy propositions are not propositions (just as fake money is not money).

Skeptical said...

What if I believe a tautology because my horoscope told me that I couldn't go wrong believing the first thing I read today, and the first thing I read today was a very complex tautology?

Ron said...

A tautology is a fault of style. Stylistically at least one can go wrong believing a tautology.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Skeptical:

Clever, but alas I think not clever enough, since I qualified the claim with footnote to combat such examples.

Skeptical said...

Fine. But I insist that requiring a footnote makes this no better than a Deep* Thought.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Fair enough. :-)

semper creditum said...

ah, I thought a tautologousness was an attribute of sentences.

Alexander R Pruss said...

That might be a fairly standard understanding of tautologies. But then you can't believe or deny a tautology, since one doesn't believe or deny sentences, but their propositional content.

That said, I have an eccentric view of language on which I deny that something can be an assertoric sentence without expressing a proposition, and I deny that can express a proposition without being true or false. (The view is related to that in the Tractatus.)