Ideas of Timothy Williamson, by Theme

[British, fl. 2000, Wykeham Professor of Logic at the Oxford University. Fellow of New College.]

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1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / e. Philosophy as reason
Progress in philosophy is incremental, not an immature seeking after drama
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 5. Against Analysis
We can't presume that all interesting concepts can be analysed
1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 1. Continental Philosophy
Analytic philosophy has much higher standards of thinking than continental philosophy
3. Truth / B. Truthmakers / 5. What Makes Truths / b. Objects make truths
The truthmaker principle requires some specific named thing to make the difference
3. Truth / B. Truthmakers / 7. Making Modal Truths
The converse Barcan formula will not allow contingent truths to have truthmakers
Truthmaker is incompatible with modal semantics of varying domains
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 3. Correspondence Truth critique
Correspondence to the facts is a bad account of analytic truth
4. Formal Logic / D. Modal Logic ML / 3. Modal Logic Systems / h. System S5
If metaphysical possibility is not a contingent matter, then S5 seems to suit it best
In S5 matters of possibility and necessity are non-contingent
4. Formal Logic / D. Modal Logic ML / 7. Barcan Formula
Converse Barcan: could something fail to meet a condition, if everything meets that condition?
If the domain of propositional quantification is constant, the Barcan formulas hold
If a property is possible, there is something which can have it
4. Formal Logic / E. Nonclassical Logics / 4. Fuzzy Logic
Fuzzy logic uses a continuum of truth, but it implies contradictions
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 3. Value of Logic
Formal logic struck me as exactly the language I wanted to think in
5. Theory of Logic / G. Quantification / 1. Quantification
Not all quantification is either objectual or substitutional
5. Theory of Logic / G. Quantification / 4. Substitutional Quantification
Substitutional quantification is metaphysical neutral, and equivalent to a disjunction of instances
5. Theory of Logic / G. Quantification / 7. Unorthodox Quantification
Not all quantification is objectual or substitutional
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 1. Mathematical Platonism / a. For mathematical platonism
Platonism claims that some true assertions have singular terms denoting abstractions, so abstractions exist
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 3. Anti-realism
The realist/anti-realist debate is notoriously obscure and fruitless
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 7. Facts / a. Facts
If 'fact' is a noun, can we name the fact that dogs bark 'Mary'?
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / a. Vagueness of reality
There cannot be vague objects, so there may be no such thing as a mountain
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / b. Vagueness as epistemic
Vagueness in a concept is its indiscriminability from other possible concepts
Close to conceptual boundaries judgement is too unreliable to give knowledge
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / e. Vague objects
What sort of logic is needed for vague concepts, and what sort of concept of truth?
Common sense and classical logic are often simultaneously abandoned in debates on vagueness
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 1. Types of Modality
Necessity is counterfactually implied by its negation; possibility does not counterfactually imply its negation
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 8. Conditionals / a. Conditionals
Strict conditionals imply counterfactual conditionals: □(A⊃B)⊃(A□→B)
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 9. Counterfactuals
Counterfactual conditionals transmit possibility: (A□→B)⊃(◊A⊃◊B)
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 1. Sources of Necessity
Rather than define counterfactuals using necessity, maybe necessity is a special case of counterfactuals [Hale/Hoffmann,A]
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 1. A Priori Necessary
Modal thinking isn't a special intuition; it is part of ordinary counterfactual thinking
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 4. Conceivable as Possible / a. Conceivable as possible
We scorn imagination as a test of possibility, forgetting its role in counterfactuals
Williamson can't base metaphysical necessity on the psychology of causal counterfactuals [Lowe]
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / e. Possible Objects
Our ability to count objects across possibilities favours the Barcan formulas
If talking donkeys are possible, something exists which could be a talking donkey [Cameron]
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / c. Aim of beliefs
Belief aims at knowledge (rather than truth), and mere believing is a kind of botched knowing
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 7. Knowledge First
Don't analyse knowledge; use knowledge to analyse other concepts in epistemology [DeRose]
We don't acquire evidence and then derive some knowledge, because evidence IS knowledge
Knowledge is prior to believing, just as doing is prior to trying to do
Belief explains justification, and knowledge explains belief, so knowledge explains justification
A neutral state of experience, between error and knowledge, is not basic; the successful state is basic
Internalism about mind is an obsolete view, and knowledge-first epistemology develops externalism
Knowledge-first says your total evidence IS your knowledge
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / b. Direct realism
Surely I am acquainted with physical objects, not with appearances?
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 2. Self-Evidence
There are 'armchair' truths which are not a priori, because experience was involved
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 1. Perception
How can one discriminate yellow from red, but not the colours in between?
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 1. Intuition
Intuition is neither powerful nor vacuous, but reveals linguistic or conceptual competence
When analytic philosophers run out of arguments, they present intuitions as their evidence
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 2. Imagination
Imagination is important, in evaluating possibility and necessity, via counterfactuals
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 6. Meaning as Use
You might know that the word 'gob' meant 'mouth', but not be competent to use it
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 2. Semantics
The 't' and 'f' of formal semantics has no philosophical interest, and may not refer to true and false
Inferentialist semantics relies on internal inference relations, not on external references
How does inferentialism distinguish the patterns of inference that are essential to meaning?
Internalist inferentialism has trouble explaining how meaning and reference relate
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 7. Extensional Semantics
Truth-conditional referential semantics is externalist, referring to worldly items
19. Language / D. Propositions / 3. Concrete Propositions
Propositions (such as 'that dog is barking') only exist if their items exist
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Culture
If languages are intertranslatable, and cognition is innate, then cultures are all similar
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / b. Ontological Proof critique
A thing can't be the only necessary existent, because its singleton set would be as well