Truth and the enigma of knowability

Dialectica 61 (4):521–537 (2007)
Abstract
Since its disc overy by Fitch, the paradox of knowability has been a thorn in the anti-realist's side. Recently both Dummett and Tennant have sought to relieve the anti-realist by restricting the applicability of the knowability principle -- the principle that all truths are knowable -- which has been viewed as both a cardinal doctrine of anti-realism and the assumption for reductio of Fitch's argument. In this paper it is argued that the paradox of knowability is a peculiarly acute manifestation of a syndrome affecting anti-realism, against which Dummett's and Tennant's manoeuvres are not finally efficacious. The anti-realist can only cope with the syndrome by being much clearer about her notion of knowability. In fact, she'll have to offer an account which relativises the notion of knowability both to the world at which knowability is assessed and to the content of the proposition to which it is applied. This is not, however, merely an ad hoc manoeuvre to counter the problematic syndrome; rather it is just what we should expect from the anti-realist's intuitive use of the notion. A preliminary investigation indicates that there is no way of providing a general, systematic explanation of such a notion of knowability and thus an inherent restriction on the principle of knowability -- but one differing from those offered by either Dummett or Tennant -- is developed.
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