“Yummy!” “Yucky!” and irony – some philosophical viewpoints

When it comes to food, if someone says that “X is yummy” it can usually be taken to mean that they very much like what they’re eating. But what if they say “X is yummy” in an ironic way rather than in a sincere way? The philosophical implications are pondered by Professor Nick Zangwill, Ferens Chair of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Cultures and Education, School of Histories, Languages and Cultures at the University of Hull, UK, in the latest issue of the philosophical journal The Monist.

“Suppose I utter “ X is yummy ” ironically. Then I have said what I have said, whatever feelings and pleasures I may or may not have. The point applies equally to nonlinguistic expressive gestures with institutionalized meanings. If I stand up or take my hat off when someone important comes into a room, then I have expressed respect, whatever I am thinking. I may inwardly be seething with contempt. Still, I have expressed respect since that is what those gestures mean . This is crucial for the Frege-Geach problem. I can take my hat off sincerely or ironically, just as I can utter “ X is yummy ” sincerely or ironically, just as I can use “ X is yummy” in unembedded and embedded contexts. (I am not suggesting a pragmatic theory of embedding; rather, both pragmatic and embedding phenomena have the same explanation.)” [our hyperlink]

See: The Yummy and the Yucky: Expressive Language and the Agreeable The Monist, 2018, 101, 294–308

BONUS Philosophical Question : ‘Do you exist, and can you prove it?’ Food for thought is provided here by Prof. Zangwill.

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]