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Unformatted text preview: 718 Book Reviews public (p. vii) and one presumably to a more scholarly audience. This history appears to be re ected in the wide variation, in di ff erent parts of the volume, in the amount of ground covered, in the level of detail, and in the degree to which rival scholarly interpretations are actively responded to (as opposed to being simply mentioned, sometimes with and sometimes without references). Of course, every book must treat some things more painstakingly than others. But scholars, at any rate, will sometimes fi nd themselves asking why they should accept the particular interpretation proposed, rather than one of the others admitted to be on o ff er elsewhere. These gripes should not, however, be allowed to obscure the books undeni- able merits. It is an important work, which should interest and stimulate a broad readership for some time to come. Department of Philosophy Johns Hopkins University 3400 N. Charles Street Baltimore, MD 212182686 USA Knowledge and its Limits , by Timothy Williamson. Oxford: Oxford Uni- versity Press, . Pp. xi + . H/b . . Knowledge and Its Limits is a splendid book that is certain to be in uential for a long time. It develops positions on an unusually broad range of topics (the nature of mental states, knowledge, justi fi cation, evidence, warranted asserta- bility, externalism and internalism, the iteration of knowledge, epistemic transparency, scepticism, probability) and o ff ers distinctive, carefully crafted arguments in defence of these positions. Williamson sees himself as developing a new, knowledge fi rst approach to epistemology. At the core of this approach is the thesis that knowing is a men- tal state and, indeed, a sui generis mental state, which cannot be adequately understood as a combination of internal conditions (for example, believing or believing with justi fi cation) and external conditions (for example, the envi- ronmental conditions that make the belief true). Because the concept knows picks out a sui generis mental state, Williamson feels free to make use of it, without threat of circularity, in developing accounts of evidence, justi fi cation, warranted assertability, and many other important epistemological concepts. Williamson employs a negative strategy to defend the thesis that knowing is sui generis , arguing that the contrary view is motivated by indefensible assumptions and that in exposing the indefensibility of these assumptions, he shifts the burden of proof. One of these assumptions is that knowing has an external component and, as such, cannot be a mental state. Williamson counters that beliefs, which almost everyone will grant are mental, are not wholly internal either and, hence, internality cannot be a test of the mental. He relies on a familiar line of argument, based on natural language semantics, to Book Reviews 719 defend the idea that believing is not wholly internal. According to the argu-defend the idea that believing is not wholly internal....
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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.
- Fall '06