notes_2 - Notes on Chapter 2 of Knowledge and its Limits We...

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Notes on Chapter 2 of Knowledge and its Limits 09/13/06 We will focus mainly on the argument “from internalism to the denial that knowing is a mental state” presented in section 2.3. The argument runs as follows (my re-ordering). First, W’s internalist accepts: (3) For all cases α and β , if α is internally like β , then one is in exactly the same mental state in α as in β . Williamson takes this to be a fundamental tenet of internalism. Next, for reductio , W’s internalist supposes: (2) For all propositions p and cases α and β , if one is in exactly the same mental state in α as in β , then in α one knows p if and only if in β one knows p . That is, they assume for reductio that knowing p supervenes on one’s (total) mental state. Then, from (2) and (3) we may infer that knowing supervenes on one’s internal state (supervenience is transitive): (4) For all p , α , β , if α is internally like β , then in α one knows p if and only if in β one knows p . And, (4) implies that knowing p is a narrow condition, which nobody accepts. Thus, since W’s internalist accepts (3), they must reject (2), and anything stronger, including the claim that knowing is a mental state: (1) For all p , there is a mental state S such that in every α , one is in S if and only if one knows p . After rejecting that knowledge is a mental state, W’s internalists then “seek to factorize it into mental and non-mental components”. The obvious candidate for the mental component is believing (or rationally/truly believing, etc .). Here, Williamson cites Stich (and Kim) as endorsing the slogan that ‘what knowledge adds to belief is psychologically irrelevant’. Interestingly, Williamson renders this slogan as follows: (5) For all p , α , if in α one believes p then in some β one is in the same mental state as in α and one knows p . Note that this rendition of the slogan has Stich (and Kim) making a primarily metaphysical claim, as opposed to a methodological claim about psychological explanation, prediction (or practice). We think that’s unfair to Stich who also thinks that what content adds to “syntax in the head” is psychologically irrelevant because it is broad. If anything, what Stich and Williamson disagree about here is the scope and domain of psychological explanation and prediction. To say that they disagree on (5) or any other metaphysical claim is misleading. Kim, on the other hand, is more likely to endorse (5) as a rendition of the slogan. But, Kim has some rather
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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 Berkeley.

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notes_2 - Notes on Chapter 2 of Knowledge and its Limits We...

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