Counterfactual knowability revisited

Synthese (2):1-15 (2019)
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Abstract

Anti-realism is plagued by Fitch’s paradox: the remarkable result that if one accepts that all truths are knowable, minimal assumptions about the nature of knowledge entail that every truth is known. Dorothy Edgington suggests to address this problem by understanding p is knowable to be a counterfactual claim, but her proposal must contend with a forceful objection by Timothy Williamson. I revisit Edgington’s basic idea and find that Williamson’s objection is obviated by a refined understanding of counterfactual knowability that is grounded in possible courses of inquiry. I arrive at a precise definition of knowability that is not just a technical avoidance of paradox, but is metaphysically sound and does justice to the anti-realist idea.

Author's Profile

Julian J. Schlöder
University of Connecticut

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