Sunday, March 21, 2004

Good News, Bad News

Isn't there an improv comedy game with that name? Warren Sapp said the following about his move to the Oakland Raiders:
"The bad news is I won't be back with the Bucs," Sapp said by telephone from Miami. "The good news is I'm a Raider."
Can we make sense of this? After all, there is an important sense in which Sapp's being a Raider is the same piece of news as Sapp's not being a Buc. This is to be distinguished from a mere entailment relation -- it's quite sensible to say, for instance, something like this:
"The good news is that I'm not in debt. The bad news is I'm bankrupt."
This seems to me to be acceptable, even though bankruptcy conceptually entails freedom from debt. It merely picks out different consequences of an action. Sapp's quotation does not seem to fit this model -- it's not just that being a non-Buc is a consequence of being a Raider -- being a non-Buc is constitutive of being a Raider. Also, Raiders suck.

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