Verificationists versus realists: The battle over knowability

Synthese 151 (1):81 - 98 (2006)
Verificationism is the doctrine stating that all truths are knowable. Fitch’s knowability paradox, however, demonstrates that the verificationist claim (all truths are knowable) leads to “epistemic collapse”, i.e., everything which is true is (actually) known. The aim of this article is to investigate whether or not verificationism can be saved from the effects of Fitch’s paradox. First, I will examine different strategies used to resolve Fitch’s paradox, such as Edgington’s and Kvanvig’s modal strategy, Dummett’s and Tennant’s restriction strategy, Beall’s paraconsistent strategy, and Williamson’s intuitionistic strategy. After considering these strategies I will propose a solution that remains within the scope of classical logic. This solution is based on the introduction of a truth operator. Though this solution avoids the shortcomings of the non-standard (intuitionistic) solution, it has its own problems. Truth, on this approach, is not closed under the rule of conjunction-introduction. I will conclude that verificationism is defensible, though only at a rather great expense.
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