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Conditionals, Paradox, and ProbabilityThemes from the Philosophy of Dorothy Edgington$
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Lee Walters and John Hawthorne

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780198712732

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198712732.001.0001

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Edgington on Possible Knowledge of Unknown Truth

Edgington on Possible Knowledge of Unknown Truth

(p.195) 12 Edgington on Possible Knowledge of Unknown Truth
Conditionals, Paradox, and Probability

Timothy Williamson

Oxford University Press

The chapter responds to Dorothy Edgington’s article ‘Possible Knowledge of Unknown Truth’, which defends her seminal diagnosis of the Church–Fitch refutation of verificationist knowability principles. Using counterfactual conditionals, she reformulates those principles to block that objection. The chapter argues that, to avoid trivialization, Edgington must supply a more general constraint on how the knower specifies a counterfactual situation for purposes of her reformulated principles; it is unclear how to do so. The philosophical motivation for her strategy is also questioned, with special reference to her treatment of Putnam’s epistemic account of truth. In passing, it is questioned how dangerous Church–Fitch arguments are for verificationist principles with non-factive evidential attitudes in place of knowledge. Finally, a doubt is raised about the compatibility of Edgington’s reformulation strategy with her view that counterfactual conditionals lack truth-conditions.

Keywords:   verificationist, knowability, counterfactual, conditionals, truth, non-factive, Edgington, Church, Fitch, Putnam

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