notes_9 - Williamson, Knowledge and its Limits Seminar Fall...

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Unformatted text preview: Williamson, Knowledge and its Limits Seminar Fall 2006 Sherri Roush 1 Chapter 8 Skepticism Williamson is diagnosing skepticism as a consequence of assuming too much knowledge of our mental states. The way this assumption is supposed to make trouble on this topic is that it leads us to think we have the same evidence in the good and bad cases (because evidence is the stuff on the inside we have access to and hence knowledge of, and our evidence is only that kind of stuff). There are dangers of begging the question in what Williamson is trying to do. For example, its important to see that it just follows automatically from having an epistemologically externalist approach to knowledge that if we are in the good case, then we know were in the good case. This is because all the causal (say) stuff is working right (e.g. perception), and the epistemological externalist makes no further demands in order to count someone as knowing. (Obviously, the epistemological internalist couldnt disagree more with either of these claims.) But no epistemological externalist thinks that this is a reply to the skeptic or an argument that the skeptic makes false assumptions. If anything, this looks like a strike against an externalist view to the extent that it shows how impoverished externalism is to explain why the skeptical challenge is appealing at all. (Tracking can, but other externalisms have nothing.) Williamson is aware of this danger of course, and does not appeal directly to his E=K thesis (so since your knowledge is different your evidence must be different), for example, in order to diagnose and undermine the appeal of skepticism. Hes making arguments that look independent of that. But watch carefully for slip-ups, and ask yourself whether the arguments that he says make skepticism appealing, and that he shows dont work, are really necessary for skepticism to be appealing. Also, ask yourself what would an example be of the kind of evidence that is different in the good and bad cases? Williamson charges that the natural argument the skeptic has that ones evidence is the same in the good case and the bad case is a reduction ad absurdum (pp. 169-70) that assumes that one knows what ones evidence is. In section 8.6 TW waves the sorites wand and reduces this assumption to blubbering foolishness. (Dead horses dont deserve this kind of treatment.) TW says that this argument is an application of the anti-luminosity argument to sameness of evidence (so see our earlier discussion and criticisms of that). Since Ive lost all patience with sorites arguments in this domain, Ill just make a few observations. This argument doesnt seem quite an application, since it goes by constructing an argument that is parallel to the argument he attributes to the skeptic. This means we have to ask whether the parallel argument is relevant to that sameness of evidence argument ((1)- (12), pp. 171-2). One way that it seems to me its not relevant can be seen in claim (2(12), pp....
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This note was uploaded on 08/01/2008 for the course PHIL 290 taught by Professor Fitelson during the Fall '06 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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notes_9 - Williamson, Knowledge and its Limits Seminar Fall...

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