The Quest for Certainty

Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 35 (1):71-95 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The aim of this paper is to vindicate the Cartesian quest for certainty by arguing that to aim at certainty is a constitutive feature of cognition. My argument hinges on three observations concerning the nature of doubt and judgment: first, it is always possible to have a doubt as to whether p in so far as one takes the truth of p to be uncertain; second, in so far as one takes the truth of p to be certain, one is no longer able to genuinely wonder whether p is true; third, to ask the question whether p is to desire to receive a true answer. On this ground I clarify in what sense certainty is the aim of cognition. I then argue that in judging that p we commit ourselves to p’s being certain and that certainty is the constitutive norm of judgment. The paper as a whole provides a picture of the interplay between doubt and judgment that aims at vindicating the traditional insight that our ability to doubt testifies our aspiration to know with absolute certainty.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,391

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Later Wittgenstein on Doubt and Certainty.Mohammadsadegh Zahedi & Khadijeh Asli Bage - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Investigations at University of Tabriz 8 (14):93-112.
Bodily doubt.Havi Carel - 2013 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 20 (7-8):7-8.
Al-Ghazali and Descartes from Doubt to Certainty.Mohammad Alwahaib - 2017 - Discusiones Filosóficas 18 (31):15-40.
A visita de Wittgenstein à epistemologia.Maíra de Cinque Pereira da Costa - 2015 - In Arley Moreno (ed.), Coleção CLE. Campinas, SP: Coleção CLE.
Restoring Certainty.Danièle Moyal-Sharrock - forthcoming - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism:1-16.
Persuasion and Evidence in The Proofs of Faith.Ekrem Sefa Gül - 2018 - Tasavvur - Tekirdag Theology Journal 4 (2):726 - 758.
Descartes's self-doubt.Donald Sievert - 1975 - Philosophical Review 84 (1):51-69.
Knowledge, certainty, and assertion.John Turri - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (2):293-299.


Added to PP

20 (#565,948)

6 months
5 (#154,856)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Luca Zanetti
University of Bologna

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Structure of Empirical Knowledge.Laurence BonJour - 1985 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
Cartesian Meditations.Edmund Husserl - 1960 - [The Hague]M. Nijhoff.
The Possibility of Practical Reason.David Velleman - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Doxastic deliberation.Nishi Shah & J. David Velleman - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (4):497-534.

View all 30 references / Add more references