Timothy Williamson

in Knowledge and its Limits

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780199256563
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598678 | DOI:

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We are often conceived as cognitively at home with conditions that are luminous in roughly the sense that whenever they obtain we know or are in a position to know that they obtain; mental states such as feeling cold or pain are often thought to provide examples of luminous conditions. This chapter argues that there are no non‐trivial luminous conditions, and therefore that we suffer from a kind of cognitive homelessness. The argument involves consideration of gradual processes in which small changes are below our level of discrimination. It is related to, but not the same as, sorites paradoxes, for example about how many grains make a heap. The result provides the basis for an objection to the attempt that Michael Dummett has made to characterize linguistic meaning in terms of assertability rather than truth.

Keywords: assertability; cognitive homelessness; discrimination; Dummett; luminous; meaningpain; paradoxes; sorites; truth

Chapter.  10122 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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