Refitting the mirrors: on structural analogies in epistemology and action theory

Synthese 200 (1):1-28 (2022)
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Structural analogies connect Williamson’s epistemology and action theory: for example, action is the direction-of-fit mirror image of knowledge, and knowledge stands to belief as action stands to intention. These structural analogies, for Williamson, are meant to illuminate more generally how ‘mirrors’ reversing direction of fit should be understood as connecting the spectrum of our cognitive and practically oriented mental states. This paper has two central aims, one negative and the other positive. The negative aim is to highlight some intractable problems with Williamson’s preferred analogical picture, which links the cognitive and the practical through the nexus of direction-of-fit mirroring. The positive aim of the paper is to propose a better alternative. In particular, we show that an achievement-theoretic proposal captures what is in common across the range of attitudes that exhibit the kind of structure that knowledge-belief, action-desire/intention do, while at the same time avoiding the problems shown to face Williamson’s proposed picture. Moreover, we draw attention to several key theoretical benefits of embracing our proposed achievement-theoretic picture, including some of the key benefits of the knowledge-first programme that Williamson’s own analogies were designed to secure.

Author Profiles

Lisa Titus
University of Denver
J. Adam Carter
University of Glasgow


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