This article examines the question ‘what is humour?’ In section 1, we set out default realist presuppositions about the question. In section 2, we characterize a broadly Moorean approach to answering the question. In section 3, we introduce popular response-dependence assumptions about humour and express puzzlement about their popularity. In section 4, we present extant answers to our question: superiority theory; relief theory; play theory; laughter-dispositional theory; and incongruity theory. We find each wanting, subjecting incongruity theory, in particular, to sustained scrutiny, and offer a novel critique of the approach. In section 5, we introduce precedents for primitivism from metaphysics, epistemology and action theory. In section 6, we present several primitivist theses about humour. In section 7, we conclude with some remarks about the methodological role primitivist theses can play in adjudicating answers to our question.
Keywords humour  analysis  primitivism  incongruity  norms  resolution  superiority  relief  play  humor
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Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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