A. Collins once argued that time travel is only imaginable if we relate the "event" out of context. John Hospers argues that it is logically possible for an iron bar to float in water even if it is actually (empirically) impossible. My point in this piece is that Hospers relies on viewing the floating out of context, in Walt Disney fashion; but that is no way to establish any kind of possibility. I also discuss "conceivability", a term frequently used (...) either to clarify logical possibility or to interchange for the same. I argue that it cannot do either. (shrink)
The Humean view that conceivability entails possibility can be criticized via input from cognitive psychology. A mainstream view here has it that there are two candidate codings for mental representations (one of them being, according to some, reducible to the other): the linguistic and the pictorial, the difference between the two consisting in the degree of arbitrariness of the representation relation. If the conceivability of P at issue for Humeans involves the having of a linguistic mental representation, then it (...) is easy to show that we can conceive the impossible, for impossibilities can be represented by meaningful bits of language. If the conceivability of P amounts to the pictorial imaginability of a situation verifying P, then the question is whether the imagination at issue works purely qualitatively, that is, only by phenomenological resemblance with the imagined scenario. If so, the range of situations imaginable in this way is too limited to have a significant role in modal epistemology. If not, imagination will involve some arbitrary labeling component, which turns out to be sufficient for imagining the impossible. And if the relevant imagination is neither linguistic nor pictorial, Humeans will appear to resort to some representational magic, until they come up with a theory of a ‘third code’ for mental representations. (shrink)
We often decide whether a state of affairs is possible by trying to mentally depict a scenario where the state in question obtains . These mental acts seem to provide us with an epistemic route to the space of possibilities. The problem this raises is whether conceivability judgments provide justification-conferring grounds for the ensuing possibility-claims . Although the question has a long history, contemporary interest in it was, to a large extent, prompted by Kripke's utilization of modal intuitions in (...) the course of propounding certain influential theses in the philosophy of language and mind. The interest has been given a further boost by the recent two-dimensional approach to the Kripkean framework. In this paper, I begin by providing a detailed examination of a most recent attempt to defend the thesis and argue that it is unsuccessful. This is followed by presenting my own gloss on Kripke's explanation of the illusions of contingency and I close by raising a general problem intended to undermine the prospects for a successful defense of the thesis. (shrink)
There is a long tradition in philosophy of using a priori methods to draw conclusions about what is possible and what is necessary, and often in turn to draw conclusions about matters of substantive metaphysics. Arguments like this typically have three steps: first an epistemic claim , from there to a modal claim , and from there to a metaphysical claim.
The capacity to represent things to ourselves as possible plays a crucial role both in everyday thinking and in philosophical reasoning; this volume offers much-needed philosophical illumination of conceivability, possibility, and the relations between them.
The notion of conceivability has traditionally been regarded as crucial to an account of modal knowledge. Despite its importance to modal epistemology, there is no received explication of conceivability. In recent discussions, some have attempted to explicate the notion in terms of epistemic possibility. There are, however, two notions of epistemic possibility, a more familiar one and a novel one. I argue that these two notions are independent of one another. Both are irrelevant to an account of modal (...) knowledge on the predominant view of modal reality. Only the novel notion is relevant and apt on the competing view of modal reality; but this latter view is problematic in light of compelling counterexamples. Insufficient care regarding the independent notions of epistemic possibility can lead to two problems: a gross problem of conflation and a more subtle problem of obscuring a crucial fact of modal epistemology. Either problem needlessly hampers efforts to develop an adequate account of modal knowledge. I conclude that the familiar notion of epistemic possibility should be eschewed in the context of modal epistemology. (shrink)
This paper advances the thesis that we can justifiably believe philosophically interesting possibility statements. The first part of the paper critically discusses van Inwagens skeptical arguments while at the same time laying some of the foundation for a positive view. The second part of the paper advances a view of conceivability in terms of imaginability, where imaginging can be propositional, pictorial, or a combination of the two, and argues that conceivability can, and often does, provide us with justified beliefs (...) of what is metaphysically possible. The notion of scenarios is developed, as is an account of how filling out scenarios can uncover a defeater or, in many cases, strengthen the justification for the relevant possibility statement. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Recently the discussion surrounding the conceivability thesis has been less about the link between conceivability and possibility per se and more about the requirements of a successful physicalist program. But before entering this debate it is necessary to consider whether conceivability provides us with even prima facie justification for our modal beliefs. I argue that two methods of conceiving—imagining that p and telling a story about p—can provide us with such justification, but only if certain requirements are met. (...) To make these arguments, I consider those of Paul Tidman, whose position I use as a foil.RÉSUMÉ: Dernièrement, le débat sur la thèse de la concevabilité a peu porté sur le lien entre la concevabilité et la possibilité per se et s’est plutôt intéressé aux conditions requises pour la réalisation du programme physicaliste. Toutefois, avant d’entrer dans ce débat, il est nécessaire de se demander si la concevabilité offre une justification même élémentaire des croyances modales. Je soutiens que deux méthodesde concevoir — imaginer que p et raconter une histoire à propos de p — sont susceptibles de nous fournir cette justification, mais seulement dans la limite de certaines conditions. À l’appui de mon propos, j’envisage la position de Paul Tidman, qui me sert de repoussoir. (shrink)
It is often supposed that in order to refute the view that laws of nature are necessary truths it is sufficient to appeal to Hume's argument from the conceivability of to the possibility of their being false. But while Hume's argument does present the necessitarian with insuperable difficulties it needs to be made clear just what these are. The mere appeal to Hume is quite insufficient for what he says can be interpreted in more than one way. And if (...) it constitutes an argument rather than a mere assertion Kneale has given reason to suppose that it is at least not obviously valid. The upshot of this article is that Hume's argument may be seen as a direct challenge to the notion that there could be propositions whose modal value is necessarily "opaque to the human intellect". (shrink)
In various arguments, Descartes relies on the principles that conceivability implies possibility and that inconceivability implies impossibility. Those principles are in tension with another Cartesian view about the source of modality, i.e. the doctrine of the free creation of eternal truths. In this paper, I develop a ‘two-modality’ interpretation of the doctrine of eternal truths which resolves the tension and I discuss how the resulting modal epistemology can still be relevant for the contemporary discussion.
It seems undeniable that we have many items of modal knowledge. Tradition has it that conceivability is the evidence for possibility that gets us to this modal knowledge. But "conceive" cannot mean think, understand, entertain, suppose, or find believable, because none of these are suited to serve as evidence for possibility, and if it is none of these, it is mysterious what conceivability is, and why it is evidence for possibility. I argue that sensory imagination is the (...) most promising candidate for a source of modal evidence. A theory of imaginative content is developed in Chapter One, one which allows what seems undeniable: that we do imagine the impossible. This raises a challenge to explain why, in the face of our ability to imagine the impossible, we should accept imagination as modal evidence. The predominant response, developed by Saul Kripke, limits the scope of imagination to preserve the link between imagination and what is possible. In Chapter Two I argue that the Kripkean theory is best thought of as an error theory: when we take ourselves to imagine, e.g., water without H2O, or Mark Twain and Sam Clemens in a fistfight, we are mistaken. I articulate and defend an alternative modal epistemology, one that exploits the crucial difference between assigned and basic content of imagining. The evidential value of some imaginings is undermined by independent considerations about the connection between assigned content and ignorance. Instances in which we imagine the impossible are all cases where these independent considerations give us reason to doubt the imagining's value as modal evidence. The conclusions about assigned content are applied in Chapter Three to the first-person imaginings thought to be crucial in philosophy of mind: the imaginability of zombies, and the imaginability of being a disembodied soul. It is argued that such imaginings offer no evidence favoring dualism over materialism. Finally, alternatives to imagination as the source for modal evidence are discussed in Chapter Four. I explore both direct intuition and a priori-based accounts, and conclude that neither offers a genuine alternative to the imagination. (shrink)
In addition to conceiving of such imaginary scenarios as those involving philosophical zombies, we may conceive of such things being conceived. Call these higher order conceptions ‘meta-conceptions’. Sorensen (2006) holds that one can entertain a meta-conception without thereby conceiving of the embedded lower-order conception. So it seems that I can meta-conceive possibilities which I cannot conceive. If this is correct, then meta-conceptions provide a counter-example to the claim that possibility entails conceivability. Moreover, some of Sorensen’s discussion suggests the following (...) argument: if the conceivability of some proposition entails its possibility, then the meta-conceivability of some proposition entails its possibility; but we can meta-conceive impossibilities; so conceivability doesn’t entail possibility. In this paper, I’ll argue that one cannot entertain a meta-conception without thereby conceiving of the embedded lower-order conception. And so we can neither meta-conceive impossibilities nor meta-conceive possibilities of which we cannot thereby conceive. (shrink)
In his 1998 postscript to ‘The Possibility of Resurrection’ Peter van Inwagen argues that the scenario he describes by which God might resurrect a human organism, even though probably not true, is still conceivable and, consequently, ‘serves to establish a possibility’, namely, the metaphysical possibility of the resurrection of material beings. Van Inwagen, however, has also argued in favour of ‘modal scepticism’ [van Inwagen in, God, knowledge and mystery: essays in philosophical theology, Cornell University Press, Ithaca 1995b, (...) pp. 11–12; van Inwagen in, Philos Stud 92:67–84, 1998a]. That is, he thinks that we should limit all our claims about what is possible to ‘ordinary propositions about everyday matters’, 1998a). In this paper I argue that van Inwagen’s modal argument as found in ‘The Possibility of Resurrection’ is inconsistent with his modal scepticism as found in ‘Modal Epistemology’. In consequence, I argue that, given his modal scepticism, the task van Inwagen set himself in ‘The Possibility of Resurrection’ has not been achieved. (shrink)
To what extent and how is conceivability a guide to possibility? This essay explores general philosophical issues raised by this question, and critically surveys responses to it by Descartes, Hume, Kripke and "two-dimensionalists.".
In this paper, we argue that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’, which is the view that ideal primary positive conceivability entails primary metaphysical possibility, is self-defeating. To this end, we outline two reductio arguments against ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’. The first reductio shows that, from supposing that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is true, it follows that conceivability both is and is not conclusive evidence for possibility. The second reductio shows that, from supposing that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is true, it follows that it (...) is possible that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is necessarily false, and hence that ‘Weak Modal Rationalism’ is false. We then argue that adopting a weaker position according to which conceivability is merely prima facie evidence for possibility provides limited protection from our criticism of conceivability arguments. (shrink)
Conceivability is an important source of our beliefs about what is possible; inconceivability is an important source of our beliefs about what is impossible. What are the connections between the reliability of these sources? If one is reliable, does it follow that the other is also reliable? The central contention of this paper is that suitably qualified the reliability of inconceivability implies the reliability of conceivability, but the reliability of conceivability fails to imply the reliability of inconceivability.
The notion of conceivability has traditionally been regarded as crucial to an account of modal knowledge. Despite its importance to modal epistemology, there is no received explication of conceivability. One purpose of this paper is to argue that the notion is not fruitfully explicated in terms of the imagination. The most natural way of presenting a notion of conceivability qua imaginability is open to cogent criticism. In order to avoid such criticism, an advocate of the modal insightfulness of the imagination (...) must broaden the idea of what it is to be imaginable. I argue that this required broadening renders the imagination idle . Consequently, I distinguish two different accounts of the evidential basis of modal knowledge and present a more general argument that concludes that the very notion of conceivability should be eschewed in modal epistemology. (shrink)
The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism’s impact on modal arguments in the philosophy of mind -- for example, Yablo’s disembodiment argument and Chalmers’s zombie argument. (...) A less vulnerable style of modal argument is defended, which nevertheless wins the same anti-materialist conclusions sought by these other arguments. (shrink)
How do we know what's (metaphysically) possible and impossible? Arguments from Kripke and Putnam suggest that possibility is not merely a matter of (coherent) conceivability/imaginability. For example, we can coherently imagine that Hesperus and Phosphorus are distinct objects even though they are not possibly distinct. Despite this apparent problem, we suggest, nevertheless, that imagination plays an important role in an adequate modal epistemology. When we discover what is possible or what is impossible, we generally exploit important connections between what (...) is possible and what we can coherently imagine. We can often come to knowledge of metaphysical modality a priori. (shrink)
In the history of modern philosophy systematic connections were assumed to hold between the modal concepts of logical possibility and necessity and the concept of conceivability. However, in the eyes of many contemporary philosophers, insuperable objections face any attempt to analyze the modal concepts in terms of conceivability. It is important to keep in mind that a philosophical explanation of modality does not have to take the form of a reductive analysis. In this paper I attempt to provide a (...) response-dependent account of the modal concepts in terms of conceivability along the lines of a nonreductive model of explanation. (shrink)
Chalmers argues that zombies are possible and that therefore consciousness does not supervene on physical facts, which shows the falsity of materialism. The crucial step in this argument – that zombies are possible – follows from their conceivability and hence depends on assuming that conceivability implies possibility. But while Chalmers’s defense of this assumption – call it the conceivability principle – is the key part of his argument, it has not been well understood. As I see it, Chalmers’s defense (...) of the conceivability principle comes in his response to the so-called objection from a posteriori necessity. The defense aims at showing that there is no gap between conceivability and possibility since no such gap can be generated by necessary a posteriori truths. I will argue that while Chalmers is right to the extent that there is no gap between conceivability and possibility within the standard Kripkean model of a posteriori necessity, his general conclusion is not justified. This is because the conceivability principle might be inconsistent with a posteriori necessity understood in some non-Kripkean way and Chalmers has not shown that no such alternative understanding of a posteriori necessity is available. (shrink)
Assertions about metaphysical modality play central roles in philosophical theorizing. For example, when philosophers propose hypothetical counterexamples, they often are making a claim to the effect that some state of affairs is possible. Getting the epistemology of modality right is thus important. Debates have been preoccupied with assessing whether imaginability—or conceivability, insofar as it’s different—is a guide to possibility, or whether it is rather intuitions of possibility—and modal intuitions more generally—that are evidence for possibility claims. The dissertation (...) argues that the imagination plays a subtler role than the first view recognizes, and a more central one than the second view does. In particular, it defends an epistemology of metaphysical modality on which someone can acquire modal knowledge in virtue of having performed certain complex imaginative exercises. (shrink)
This paper was chosen by The Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best articles appearing in print in 2000. Reprinted in Volume XXIII of The Philosopher’s Annual. In his very influential book David Chalmers argues that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description – this is called “the a priori entailment thesis – but ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and he concludes that Physicalism is false. As (...) he puts it, “zombies” are metaphysically possible. I attempt to show that this argument is refuted by considering an analogous argument in the mouth of a zombie. The conclusion of this argument is false so one of the premises is false. I argue at length that this shows that the original conceivability argument also has a false premise and so is invalid. (shrink)
This paper examines the ramifications of Hume's view of the relation of conceivability to metaphysical possibility. It argues that the limitations Hume places of the representations involved in moves to conceivability to metaphysical possibility preclude any straightforward argument against full-blooded causal realism in Hume from conceivability. Furthermore, our finding certain states of affairs conceivable when they are not metaphysically possible is perfectly compatible with the thrust of the causal realist position.
This paper deals with two opposite metaphilosophical doctrines concerning the nature of philosophy. More specifically, it is a study of the naturalistic view that philosophical, hence also epistemological, knowledge cannot be distinguished from empirical knowledge, and of the antinaturalistic view that philosophical, hence also epistemological, knowledge, is pure, that is, independent of empirical knowledge and particularly of the special sciences. The conditions of the possibility of naturalistic and of pure epistemology are studied in terms of phenomenological philosophy. It is (...) concluded that pure epistemology is possible under relatively strong conditions but that the version of naturalistic epistemology which denies the pure basis leads to contradiction. That, however, does not shake the possibility of cognitive science. Following Husserl, we may argue that studies of human cognition are possible on the condition that a first basis is assumed which is not naturalized. (shrink)
David Chalmers supports his contention that there is a possible world populated by our zombie twins by arguing for the assumption that conceivability entails possibility. But, I argue, the modal epistemology he sets forth, ‘modal rationalism,’ ignores the problem of incompleteness and relies on an idealized notion of conceivability. As a consequence, this epistemology can’t justify our quotidian judgments of possibility, let alone those judgments that concern the mind/body connection. Working from the analogy that the imagination is to (...) the possible as perception is to the actual, I set forth a competing epistemology, ‘modal empiricism.’ This epistemology survives the incompleteness objection and allows some of our everyday modal judgments to be justified. But this epistemology can’t justify the claim that Zombie World is possible, which leaves Chalmers’s property dualism without the support it needs. (shrink)
Williamsonian modal epistemology is characterized by two commitments: realism about modality, and anti-exceptionalism about our modal knowledge. Williamson’s own counterfactual-based modal epistemology is the best known implementation of WME, but not the only option that is available. I sketch and defend an alternative implementation which takes our knowledge of metaphysical modality to arise, not from knowledge of counterfactuals, but from our knowledge of ordinary possibility statements of the form ‘x can F’. I defend this view against a criticism indicated (...) in Williamson’s own work, and argue that it is better connected to the semantics of modal language. (shrink)
This paper offers a detailed criticism of different versions of modal scepticism proposed by Van Inwagen and Hawke, and, against these views, attempts to vindicate our reliance on thought experiments in philosophy. More than one different meaning of “ modal scepticism” will be distinguished. Focusing mainly on Hawke’s more detailed view I argue that none of these versions of modal scepticism is compelling, since sceptical conclusions depend on an untenable and, perhaps, incoherent modal epistemology. With a detailed account of modal (...) defeaters at hand I argue that Van Inwagen and Hawke’s scepticism is either groundless, or it leads to boundless and unacceptable modal scepticism. Additionally, I show that Hawke’s conception of analogical modal reasoning is problematic. Either his principle of similarity is arbitrary or it begs the question about modal scepticism. In contrast to Hawke’s restricted view of analogical modal reasoning, I present two examples of analogy-based modal justification of philosophically relevant possibility claims. My criticism of modal scepticism also shows that there is no good reason to insist on a sharp distinction between an unproblematic and a presumably dubious kind of modality. The upshot is that in absence of proper defeaters both Yablo-style conceivability and properly applied analogical reasoning are reliable guides to possibility, and also that modal justification comes in degrees. The proposed framework of defeaters of modal justification as well as the analysed examples of analogical modal reasoning trace out interesting new areas for further discussions. (shrink)
I survey a number of views about how we can obtain knowledge of modal propositions, propositions about necessity and possibility. One major approach is that whether a proposition or state of affairs is conceivable tells us something about whether it is possible. I examine two quite different positions that fall under this rubric, those of Yablo and Chalmers. One problem for this approach is the existence of necessary a posteriori truths and I deal with some of the ways in (...) which these authors respond to the problem, including the use of two-dimensional modal semantics. Conventionalism about modality offers a complementary approach to modal epistemology, prompting us to identify our knowledge of modal truths with our mastery of linguistic or conceptual conventions. Finally, I discuss an approach to modal epistemology deriving from David Lewis's work that seeks to identify structural features of the modal space over which necessity and possibility are defined. (shrink)
The capacity to represent things to ourselves as possible plays a crucial role both in everyday thinking and in philosophical reasoning; this volume offers much-needed philosophical illumination of conceivability, possibility, and the relations between them. Thirteen leading philosophers present specially-written essays, and a substantial introduction is provided by the volume editors, who demonstrate the importance of these topics to a wide range of issues in contemporary philosophy.
Chalmers argues that ideal conceivability (conceivability on ideal rational reflection) entails possibility and on this basis assumes that zombies are possible and, therefore, that materialism is false. I argue that the paradigm cases of conceivability intuitions that Chalmers takes to be reliable guides to possibility are not only conceptually coherent, even on ideal rational reflection, but in addition have some rational explanation. The conceivability of zombies, however, has no rational explanation. So it is not ad hoc to deny (...) that the conceivability of zombies entails possibility. (shrink)
It is standard practice in philosophical inquiry to test a general thesis (of the form 'F iff G' or 'F only if G') by attempting to construct a counterexample to it. If we can imagine or conceive of1an F that isn't a G, then we have evidence that there could be an F that isn't a G — and thus evidence against the thesis in question; if not, then the thesis is (at least temporarily) secure. Or so it is standardly (...) claimed.But there is increasing skepticism about how seriously to take what we can imagine or conceive as evidence for (or against) a priori philosophical theses, given the many historical examples of now-questionable theses that once seemed impossible to doubt — and also the recent experimental research .. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to defend Hume's claim that whatever is conceivable is possible from a criticism by William Kneale. Kneale argues that although a mathematician can conceive of the falsehood of the Goldbach conjecture, he does not conclude that it is not necessarily true. The author suggests that by taking into account Hume's distinction between intuitive and demonstrative knowledge, a revised version of his claim can be offered which is not open to Kneale's criticism.
In what follows, I appeal to Charles Babbage’s discussion of the division of mental labor to provide evidence that—at least with respect to the social acquisition, storage, retrieval, and transmission of knowledge—epistemologists have, for a broad range of phenomena of crucial importance to actual knowers in their epistemic practices in everyday life, failed adequately to appreciate the significance of socially distributed cognition. If the discussion here is successful, I will have demonstrated that a particular presumption widely held within the contemporary (...) discussion of the epistemology of testimony—a presumption that I will term the personalist requirement—fails to account for those very practices of knowers that I detail here. I will then conclude by suggesting that an alternate account of testimonial warrant, one that has heretofore been underappreciated, ought to be given more serious consideration—in particular because it is well suited to account for those actual practices of knowers that the personalist requirement leaves unrecognized. (shrink)
This paper examines "moderate modal skepticism", a form of skepticism about metaphysical modality defended by Peter van Inwagen in order to blunt the force of certain modal arguments in the philosophy of religion. Van Inwagen’s argument for moderate modal skepticism assumes Yablo's (1993) influential world-based epistemology of possibility. We raise two problems for this epistemology of possibility, which undermine van Inwagen's argument. We then consider how one might motivate moderate modal skepticism by relying on a different epistemology of (...)possibility, which does not face these problems: Williamson’s (2007: ch. 5) counterfactual-based epistemology. Two ways of motivating moderate modal skepticism within that framework are found unpromising. Nevertheless, we also find a way of vindicating an epistemological thesis that, while weaker than moderate modal skepticism, is strong enough to support the methodological moral van Inwagen wishes to draw. (shrink)
Inspired by the work of Wilfrid Sellars, Michael Williams launches an all-out attack on what he calls "phenomenalism," the idea that our knowledge of the world rests on a perceptual or experiential foundation.
In this paper I defend a relevant possibilities approach against a familiar kind of skepticism, and I argue that virtue epistemology can provide a theoretical grounding for the kind of solutions that is offered. In the section that follows I outline both the skeptical problems and the solution. In the remaining sections I develop the proposal in more detail. If my argument is sound then the paper also constitutes an argument in favor of virtue epistemology.
Explaining phenomenal consciousness may be the scientific and philosophical problem of our time, the last frontier of knowledge. This is not at all an easy task. For any serious attempt at finding a place for consciousness within the natural world was not successful so far. There is a conceptual tension here which makes this business of coming up with a unified (monist) explanation of mind and physical world one of the most intriguing mystery. The most predominant image of the natural (...) world is one of a physicalist type, whereas the mind, and especially the conscious subjective experience seem not to fit well within that physicalistexplanation. That explanatory failure may require a dualist metaphysical scheme (probably of a neo-Cartesian type). It may seem very well that we are caught in a dilemma, for we either embrace a physicalist explanation, but then it seems that we leave out consciousness from the big picture we are looking for, or else we face the huge task of conceiving a dramatic change of our scientific outlook about the natural world, and we don’t quite see how that would be possible or desirable. But then, should any attempt at understanding consciusness be a dead-end, something doomed to fail from a theoretical and explanatory point of view? In my paper I explore some philosophical underpinnings of contemporary dualism, focussing on the modal facets of the conceivability (neo-Cartesian) arguments. I will asses both the prospects and the moot points of this type of arguments. Of particular interest is the role that two-dimensional semantics plays in nowadays discussions of this topic. (shrink)
Inspired by the work of Wilfrid Sellars, Michael Williams launches an all-out attack on what he calls "phenomenalism," the idea that our knowledge of the world rests on a perceptual or experiential foundation. The point of this wider-than-normal usage of the term "phenomenalism," according to which even some forms of direct realism deserve to be called phenomenalistic, is to call attention to important continuities of thought between theories often thought to be competitors. Williams's target is not phenomenalism in its classical (...) sense-datum and reductionist form but empiricism generally. Williams examines and rejects the idea that, unless our beliefs are answerable to a "given" element in experience, objective knowledge will be impossible. Groundless Belief was first published in 1977. This second edition contains a new afterword in which Williams places his arguments in the context of some current discussions of coherentism versus the Myth of the Given and explains their relation to subsequent developments in his own epistemological views. (shrink)