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Williamson on Knowledge$
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Patrick Greenough and Duncan Pritchard

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199287512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199287512.001.0001

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Can the Concept of Knowledge be Analysed?

Can the Concept of Knowledge be Analysed?

(p.12) 2 Can the Concept of Knowledge be Analysed?
Williamson on Knowledge

Quassim Cassam (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In Knowledge and its Limits Timothy Williamson (2000) argues for what is called the Unanalysability Hypothesis (UH), the hypothesis that ‘the concept knows cannot be analysed into more basic concepts’. Williamson puts forward a range of arguments in support of UH. The first is the Distinct Concepts Argument (DCA), which assumes that every standard analysis of the concept knows equates it with some conjunctive concept like justified true belief. Another argument in support of UH is the Inductive Argument, according to which ‘experience confirms inductively . . . that no analysis of the concept knows of the standard kind is correct’. A third argument is the False Expectations Argument, according to which one should not expect the concept knows to have a non-trivial analysis in more basic terms. This chapter is divided into three parts. The first part concentrates on DCA, showing that it does not work. The second part argues that Williamson's positive account of the concept of knowledge amounts to a kind of analysis. Finally, the chapter discusses the principle that, if one knows that A, then there is a specific way in which one knows. It distinguishes between different ‘ways of knowing’, and suggests that the sense in which seeing that A is a way of knowing that A is very different from the sense in which remembering that A is a way of knowing that A.

Keywords:   Timothy Williamson, Unanalysability Hypothesis, Distinct Concepts Argument, concept of knowledge

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