The possibility of knowledge • by Quassim Cassam • oxford university press, 2007. X + 256 pp. £32.00 cloth: Summary [Book Review]

Analysis 69 (2):307-309 (2009)
An epistemological how-possible question asks how knowledge, or knowledge of some specific kind, is possible. Familiar epistemological how-possible questions include ‘How is knowledge of the external world possible?’, ‘How is knowledge of other minds possible?’ and ‘How is a priori knowledge possible?’ These are the three questions that I tackle in my book. In each case, I explain how and why the question arises and propose a way of answering it. The main negative claim of the book is that transcendental arguments are of little use in answering how-possible questions. A transcendental demonstration of the necessity of a certain kind of knowledge does not amount to an explanation of its possibility. The main positive claim is that such questions call for what I describe as a multi-levels response. I give an account of the multi-levels approach and put it to use in explaining how various kinds of knowledge are possible.Epistemological how-possible questions are not directly concerned with whether knowledge is possible, but if we cannot explain how a certain kind of knowledge is possible then the reality of that kind of knowledge is called into question. How-possible questions are obstacle-dependent. We ask how knowledge …
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DOI 10.1093/analys/anp055
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