The linchpin of Williamson (2000)'s radically externalist epistemological program is an argument for the claim that no non-trivial condition is luminous—that no non-trivial condition is such that whenever it obtains, one is in a position to know that it obtains. I argue that Williamson's anti-luminosity argument succeeds only if one assumes that, even in the limit of ideal reflection, the obtaining of the condition in question and one's beliefs about that condition can be radically disjoint from one another. However, no (...) self-respecting defender of the luminosity of the mental would ever make such an assumption. Thus Williamson can only secure his controversial claims in epistemology by taking for granted certain equally controversial claims in the philosophy of mind. What emerges is that the best bet for defending an internalist epistemology against Williamson's attack is to take there to be a tight, intimate connection between (to take one example) our experiences and our beliefs upon reflection about the obtaining of those experiences, or between (to take another example) the rationality of our beliefs and our beliefs upon reflection about the rationality of those beliefs. (shrink)
According to contextualism, the truth-conditions of knowledge attributions depend on features of the attributor's context. Contextualists take their view to be supported by cases in which the intuitive correctness of knowledge attributions depends on the attributor's context. Williamson offers a complex invariantist account of such cases which appeals to two elements, psychological bias and a failure of luminosity. He provides independent reasons for thinking that contextualist cases are characterized by psychological bias and a failure of luminosity, and argues that some (...) of our intuitions about the cases are explained by the former factor and some by the latter. I argue that psychological bias is the more fundamental of these elements. I show how, by itself, psychological bias can explain all the intuitions concerning contextualist cases. Further, it gives the best account of why contextualist cases are characterized by a failure of luminosity. (shrink)
In chapter 5 of Knowledge and its Limits, T. Williamson formulates an argument against the principle (KK) of epistemic transparency, or luminosity of knowledge, namely “that if one knows something, then one knows that one knows it”. Williamson’s argument proceeds by reductio: from the description of a situation of approximate knowledge, he shows that a contradiction can be derived on the basis of principle (KK) and additional epistemic principles that he claims are better grounded. One of them is a reflective (...) form of the margin for error principle defended by Williamson in his account of knowledge. We argue that Williamson’s reductio rests on the inappropriate identification of distinct forms of knowledge. More specifically, an important distinction between perceptual knowledge and non-perceptual knowledge is wanting in his statement and analysis of the puzzle. We present an alternative account of this puzzle, based on a modular conception of knowledge: the (KK) principle and the margin for error principle can coexist, provided their domain of application is referred to the right sort of knowledge. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there is no viable alternative to construing our knowledge and justified belief as resting on a foundation restricted to truths about our internal states. Against Williamson and others I defend the claim that the internal life of a cognizer really does constitute a special sort of cognitive home that is importantly different from the rest of what we think we know and justifiably believe.
In this paper I show that a variety of Cartesian Conceptions of the mental are unworkable. In particular, I offer a much weaker conception of limited discrimination than the one advanced by Williamson (2000) and show that this weaker conception, together with some plausible background assumptions, is not only able to undermine the claim that our core mental states are luminous (roughly: if one is in such a state then one is in a position to know that one is) but (...) also the claim that introspection is infallible with respect to our core mental states (where a belief that C obtains is infallible just in case if one believes that C obtains then C obtains). The upshot is a broader and much more powerful case against the Cartesian conception of the mental than has been advanced hitherto. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson claims that margin for error principles govern all cases of inexact knowledge. I show that this claim is unfounded: there are cases of inexact knowledge where Williamson’s argument for margin for error principles does not go through. The problematic cases are those where the value of the relevant parameter is fixed across close cases. I explore and reject two responses to my objection, before concluding that Williamson’s account of inexact knowledge is not compelling.
Timothy Williamson’s anti luminosity argument has received considerable attention. Escaping unnoticed, though, is a strikingly similar argument from David Hume. This paper highlights some of the arresting parallels between Williamson’s reasoning and Hume’s that will allow us to appreciate more deeply the plausibility of Williamson’s reasoning and to understand how, following Hume, we can extend this reasoning to undermine the “luminosity” of simple necessary truths. More broadly the parallels help us to identify a common skeptical predicament underlying both arguments, which (...) we shall call “the quarantine problem”. The quarantine problem expresses a deep skepticism about achieving any exalted epistemic state. Further, the perspective gained by the quarantine problem allows us to easily categorize existing responses to Williamson’s anti luminosity argument and to observe the deficiencies of those responses. In sum, the quarantine problem reveals the deeply fallibilistic nature of whatever knowledge we may possess. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Many of the results of Timothy Williamson's Knowledge and Its Limits depend upon his argument that many, if not all, of our mental states fail to be luminous in the sense that if we are in them, then we are in a position to know that we are in them. The purpose of this article is to show that his argument is unsound. I conclude by distinguishing between partial and total luminosity, and by arguing that even if mental states (...) are not totally luminous, they are at least partially so.RÉSUMÉ: Plusieurs des résultats du livre de Timothy Williamson, Knowledge and Its Limits dépendent de son argument à l'effet que la plupart, sinon tous nos états mentaux ne sont pas lumineux au sens où tout en se trouvant dans un tel état, nous sommes en position, de savoir que tel est notre état. Cet article a pour objectif de démontrer que ce raisonnement ne tient pas. Nous concluons par une distinction entre luminosité partielle ou complète et soutenons que, même si les états mentaux ne sont pas entièrernent clairvoyants, ils le sont en partie. (shrink)
In his recent Knowledge and its Limits, Timothy Williamson argues that no non-trivial mental state is such that being in that state sufﬁces for one to be in a position to know that one is in it. In short, there are no “luminous” mental states. His argument depends on a “safety” requirement on knowledge, that one’s conﬁdent belief could not easily have been wrong if it is to count as knowledge. We argue that the safety requirement is ambiguous; on one (...) interpretation it is obviously true but useless to his argument, and on the other interpretation it is false. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson (2000) reckons that hardly any mental state is luminous, i.e. is such that if one were in it, then one would invariably be in a position to know that one was. To this end he presents an argument against the luminosity of feeling cold— which he claims generalizes to other phenomenal states, such as e.g. being in pain. As we shall see, however, no fewer than four lines of argument for that conclusion can be extracted from Williamson’s remarks. (...) This is not to suggest that it is unclear which of these strategies is the one Williamson intends to present; but it is instructive to consider the others for the light they shed on the issue and on his own reasoning. Three of these strategies, including Williamson’s intended, fail with little hope of revival—so I shall argue. The fourth, which has escaped attention in the literature, is perhaps more promising, but I think it too can be resisted, and I sketch a possible line of attack. My aim here is not to defend the luminosity of phenomenal states per se— indeed, I am undecided about the matter—but, rather, to uncover the different strategies which emerge from Williamson’s discussion, and show that they fall short of refuting luminosity. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson (2000) reckons that hardly any mental state is luminous, i.e. is such that if one were in it, then one would invariably be in a position to know that one was. This paper examines an argument he presents against the luminosity of feeling cold, which he claims generalizes to other phenomenal states, such as e.g. being in pain. As we shall see, the argument fails. However, our deliberations do yield two anti-luminosity results: a simple refutation of the claim (...) that one invariably knows whether one feels cold or not,1 and a counterexample to the luminosity of knowing—in effect, a counterexample to the (KK)- principle. (shrink)
In Knowledge and Its Limits Timothy Williamson argues against the luminosity of phenomenal states in general by way of arguing against the luminosity of feeling cold, that is, against the view that if one feels cold, one is at least in a position to know that one does. In this paper I consider four strategies that emerge from his discussion, and argue that none succeeds.
Timothy Williamson has famously argued that the (KK) principle (roughly, that if one knows that p, then one knows that one knows that p) should be rejected. We analyze Williamson’s argument and show that its key premise is ambiguous, and that when it is properly stated this premise no longer supports the argument against (KK). After canvassing possible objections to our argument, we reflect upon some conclusions that suggest significant epistemological ramifications pertaining to the acquisition of knowledge from prior knowledge (...) by deduction. (shrink)
Questions about the transparency of evidence are central to debates between factive and non-factive versions of mentalism about evidence. If all evidence is transparent, then factive mentalism is false, since no factive mental states are transparent. However, Timothy Williamson has argued that transparency is a myth and that no conditions are transparent except trivial ones. This paper responds by drawing a distinction between doxastic and epistemic notions of transparency. Williamson's argument may show that no conditions are doxastically transparent, but it (...) fails to show that no conditions are epistemically transparent. Moreover, this reinstates the argument from the transparency of evidence against factive mentalism. (shrink)
The Modern Philosophical Revolution breaks new ground by demonstrating the continuity of European philosophy from Kant to Derrida. Much of the literature on European philosophy has emphasized the breaks that have occurred in the course of two centuries of thinking. But as David Walsh argues, such a reading overlooks the extent to which Kant, Hegel, and Schelling were already engaged in the turn toward existence as the only viable mode of philosophizing. Where many similar studies summarize individual thinkers, this book (...) provides a framework for understanding the relationships between them. Walsh thus dispels much of the confusion that assails readers when they are only exposed to the bewildering range of positions taken by the philosophers he examines. His book serves as an indispensable guide to a philosophical tradition that continues to have resonance in the post-modern world. (shrink)
The five commentators on my paper ‘Gettier Cases in Epistemic Logic’ (GCEL) demonstrate how fruitful the topic can be. Especially in Brian Weatherson's contribution, and to some extent in those of Jennifer Nagel and Jeremy Goodman, much of the material constitutes valuable development and refinement of ideas in GCEL, rather than criticism. In response, I draw some threads together, and answer objections, mainly those in the papers by Stewart Cohen and Juan Comesaña and by Goodman.
Abstract: Williamson argues that when one feels cold, one may not be in a position to know that one feels cold. He thinks this argument can be generalized to show that no mental states are such that when we are in them we are in a position to know that we are in them. I argue that his argument is a sorites argument in disguise because it relies on the implicit premise that warming up is gradual. Williamson claims that his (...) argument is not a sorites argument; I explain why he has not given us any reason to accept the claim. (shrink)