A paradox of practical reason for New Yorker readers

Readers of the New Yorker face a problem. There are powerful reasons for him or her not to read the New Yorker, but these reasons are a consequence of some of the essential qualities of New Yorker readers.

Three statements

The following three statements are either common knowledge or  self-evident.

  1.  If someone is a New Yorker reader, that person has a policy of reading the New Yorker.
  2. If someone is a New Yorker reader, that person believes that he or she is a better judge  of aesthetic, cultural, and social value of a person or thing than everyone else, i.e.., is a snob.
  3. If someone is a snob, he or she regards those persons and things beneath him or her with disdain, avoiding them and taking action to prevent others from discovering that he she has had contact with them.


Riley regards those things and persons she deems beneath her with disdain, by 1 and 2. This includes the New Yorker, by 2, whose scope is universal. The paradox of practical reason is instantiated when she is confronted with a copy of The New Yorker. As a New Yorker reader, by 1, she is committed to a policy of reading the New Yorker. At the same time, she regards the New Yorker with disdain, as a consequence of being a New Yorker reader, by 2. From these two premises together with 3, it follows that, when in the presence of a copy of the New Yorker, she forms the intention to pick up that copy, but at the same time, she forms the intention not to pick it up.

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