Synopses & Reviews
The paradox of knowability, derived from a proof by Frederic Fitch in 1963, is one of the deepest paradoxes concerning the nature of truth. Jonathan Kvanvig argues that the depth of the paradox has not been adequately appreciated. It has long been known that the paradox threatens antirealist conceptions of truth according to which truth is epistemic. If truth is epistemic, what better way to express that idea than to maintain that all truths are knowable? In the face of the paradox, however, such a characterization threatens to undermine antirealism. If Fitch's proof is valid, then one can be an antirealist of this sort only by endorsing the conclusion of the proof that all truths are known.
Realists about truth have tended to stand on the sidelines and cheer the difficulties faced by their opponents from Fitch's proof. Kvanvig argues that this perspective is wholly unwarranted. He argues that there are two problems raised by the paradox, one that threatens antirealism about truth and the other that threatens everybody's view about truth, realist or antirealist. The problem facing antirealism has had a number of proposed solutions over the past 40 years, and the results have not been especially promising with regard to the first problem. The second problem has not even been acknowledged, however, and the proposals regarding the first problem are irrelevant to the second problem.
This book thus provides a thorough investigation of the literature on the paradox, and also proposes a solution to the deeper of the two problems raised by Fitch's proof. It provides a complete picture of the paradoxicality that results from Fitch's proof, and presents a solution to the paradox that claims to address both problems raised by the original proof.
Synopsis
The paradox of knowability poses real difficulities to our understanding of truth. It does so by claiming that if we assume a truth is knowable, we can demonstrate that it is known. This demonstration threatens our understanding of truth in two quite different ways, only one of which has been recognized to this point in the literature on the paradox. Jonathan Kvanvig first unearths the ways in which the paradox is threatening, and then delineates an approach to the paradox that solves both of the problems raised by the paradox for our understanding of truth. His book will be of interest throughout philosophy, but especially to logicians and epistemologists.
About the Author
Jonathan L. Kvanvig is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Baylor University
Table of Contents
Introduction
1. The Paradox
2. What's Paradoxical?
3. Syntactic Restriction Categories
4. Rules for the Knowledge Operator
5. Reservations about the Underlying Logic
6. Semantical Moves
Conclusion