Truth and the enigma of knowability

Dialectica 61 (4):521–537 (2007)
Bernhard Weiss
University of Cape Town
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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DOI 10.1111/j.1746-8361.2007.01125.x
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References found in this work BETA

Truth and Other Enigmas.Michael A. E. Dummett - 1978 - Harvard University Press.
The Taming of the True.Neil Tennant - 1997 - Oxford University Press.
The Knowability Paradox.Jonathan L. Kvanvig - 2006 - Oxford University Press UK.
On Being in a Quandary.Crispin Wright - 2001 - Mind 110 (1):45--98.
Victor's Error.Michael Dummett - 2001 - Analysis 61 (1):1–2.

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Citations of this work BETA

Perspectives and the World.Bernhard Weiss - 2012 - Topoi 31 (1):27-35.

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Fitch's Paradox of Knowability.Berit Brogaard & Joe Salerno - 2010 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Analogues of Knowability.David DeVidi & Tim Kenyon - 2003 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (4):481 – 495.
Revamping the Restriction Strategy.Neil Tennant - 2009 - In Joe Salerno (ed.), New Essays on the Knowability Paradox. Oxford University Press.


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