Knowability and epistemic truth

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2):216 – 228 (2003)
Abstract
The so-called knowability paradox results from Fitch's argument that if there are any unknown truths, then there are unknowable truths. This threatens recent versions of semantical antirealism, the central thesis of which is that truth is epistemic. When this is taken to mean that all truths are knowable, antirealism is thus committed to the conclusion that no truths are unknown. The correct antirealistic response to the paradox should be to deny that the fundamental thesis of the epistemic nature of truth entails the knowability of all truths. Correctly understood, the antirealistic conditions on a proposition's truth do not require that the proposition possess a verification-procedure which, when executed under the given conditions, issues in an agent's recognition of truth, but merely that there be a verification-procedure which, under these conditions, takes the value true . The knowability paradox and the related idealism problem (that antirealism seems, but is not, committed to the necessary existence of an epistemic agent) draw attention to the fact that certain propositions, those that are about verification-procedures themselves, may under certain conditions take the value true despite their unperformability under these circumstances. Thus these propositions' procedures can only be performed when the propositions are false, and they gain the appearance of antirealistic impossibility (e.g., that there is an unknown truth). This differs from the unperformability that antirealists object to, pertaining merely to matters of execution rather than to the logical structure of the procedures themselves. The force of antirealism's notion of epistemic truth is piecemeal, rather than consisting in a blanket characterization of truth as knowable.
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