Fitch's Paradox of Knowability

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2010)
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Abstract

The paradox of knowability is a logical result suggesting that, necessarily, if all truths are knowable in principle then all truths are in fact known. The contrapositive of the result says, necessarily, if in fact there is an unknown truth, then there is a truth that couldn't possibly be known. More specifically, if p is a truth that is never known then it is unknowable that p is a truth that is never known. The proof has been used to argue against versions of anti-realism committed to the thesis that all truths are knowable. For clearly there are unknown truths; individually and collectively we are non-omniscient. So, by the main result, it is false that all truths are knowable. The result has also been used to draw more general lessons about the limits of human knowledge. Still others have taken the proof to be fallacious, since it collapses an apparently moderate brand of anti-realism into an obviously implausible and naive idealism.

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Author Profiles

Joe Salerno
Saint Louis University
Berit Brogaard
University of Miami

Citations of this work

Being in a Position to Know and Closure.Jan Heylen - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (1):63-67.
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Ignorance of ignorance.Kit Fine - 2018 - Synthese 195 (9):4031-4045.

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