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Ideas of Timothy Williamson, by Text

[British, b.1955, Wykeham Professor of Logic at the Oxford University. Fellow of New College.]

1988 Review of Bob Hale's 'Abstract Objects'
p.487 We can't presume that all interesting concepts can be analysed
p.487 Platonism claims that some true assertions have singular terms denoting abstractions, so abstractions exist
1994 Vagueness
Intro p.2 When bivalence is rejected because of vagueness, we lose classical logic
Intro p.2 Asking when someone is 'clearly' old is higher-order vagueness
Intro p.3 Vagueness is epistemic. Statements are true or false, but we often don't know which
Intro p.5 Supervaluation keeps classical logic, but changes the truth in classical semantics
2.2 p.44 Vagueness undermines the stable references needed by logic
3.3 p.87 A sorites stops when it collides with an opposite sorites
3.3 p.88 'Blue' is not a family resemblance, because all the blues resemble in some respect
4.11 p.126 A vague term can refer to very precise elements
4.12 p.130 Many-valued logics don't solve vagueness; its presence at the meta-level is ignored
5.1 p.142 You can't give a precise description of a language which is intrinsically vague
5.2 p.144 Supervaluation assigns truth when all the facts are respected
5.2 p.145 Supervaluation has excluded middle but not bivalence; 'A or not-A' is true, even when A is undecided
5.2 p.145 Excluded Middle is 'A or not A' in the object language
5.2 p.145 'Bivalence' is the meta-linguistic principle that 'A' in the object language is true or false
5.3 p.146 Truth-functionality for compound statements fails in supervaluation
5.3 p.148 Supervaluationism defines 'supertruth', but neglects it when defining 'valid'
5.3 p.149 Formal semantics defines validity as truth preserved in every model
5.3 p.149 Supervaluation adds a 'definitely' operator to classical logic
5.3 p.152 Or-elimination is 'Argument by Cases'; it shows how to derive C from 'A or B'
5.6 p.161 Supervaluationism cannot eliminate higher-order vagueness
6.1 p.165 The 'nihilist' view of vagueness says that 'heap' is not a legitimate concept
6.2 p.168 References to the 'greatest prime number' have no reference, but are meaningful
7.2 p.187 We can say propositions are bivalent, but vague utterances don't express a proposition
7.2 p.187 Truth and falsity apply to suppositions as well as to assertions
7.2 p.190 The 't' and 'f' of formal semantics has no philosophical interest, and may not refer to true and false
7.2 (d) p.196 If the vague 'TW is thin' says nothing, what does 'TW is thin if his perfect twin is thin' say?
7.3 p.200 If a heap has a real boundary, omniscient speakers would agree where it is
7.4 p.202 The epistemic view says that the essence of vagueness is ignorance
7.4 p.203 We can't infer metaphysical necessities to be a priori knowable - or indeed knowable in any way
7.5 p.205 If there is a true borderline of which we are ignorant, this drives a wedge between meaning and use
7.5 p.208 True and false are not symmetrical; false is more complex, involving negation
7.6 p.211 It is known that there is a cognitive loss in identifying propositions with possible worlds
7.7 p.215 The vagueness of 'heap' can remain even when the context is fixed
8.1 p.217 Vagueness in a concept is its indiscriminability from other possible concepts
8.2 p.225 Knowing you know (KK) is usually denied if the knowledge concept is missing, or not considered
8.3 p.227 We have inexact knowledge when we include margins of error
9.2 p.255 Equally fuzzy objects can be identical, so fuzziness doesn't entail vagueness
9.2 p.256 If fuzzy edges are fine, then why not fuzzy temporal, modal or mereological boundaries?
9.3 p.264 A river is not just event; it needs actual and counterfactual boundaries
9.3 p.269 Nominalists suspect that properties etc are our projections, and could have been different
9.3 c p.261 To know, believe, hope or fear, one must grasp the thought, but not when you fail to do them
1999 Truthmakers and Converse Barcan Formula
1 p.255 If metaphysical possibility is not a contingent matter, then S5 seems to suit it best
1 p.257 A thing can't be the only necessary existent, because its singleton set would be as well
2 p.257 The truthmaker principle requires some specific named thing to make the difference
2 p.259 If the domain of propositional quantification is constant, the Barcan formulas hold
2 p.262 Substitutional quantification is metaphysical neutral, and equivalent to a disjunction of instances
2 p.262 Not all quantification is objectual or substitutional
2 n10 p.262 If 'fact' is a noun, can we name the fact that dogs bark 'Mary'?
3 p.264 Converse Barcan: could something fail to meet a condition, if everything meets that condition?
3 p.265 The converse Barcan formula will not allow contingent truths to have truthmakers
3 p.266 Truthmaker is incompatible with modal semantics of varying domains
3 p.267 Our ability to count objects across possibilities favours the Barcan formulas
p.262 p.262 Not all quantification is either objectual or substitutional
2000 Knowledge and its Limits
p.20 Don't analyse knowledge; use knowledge to analyse other concepts in epistemology [DeRose]
1.5 p.47 Belief aims at knowledge (rather than truth), and mere believing is a kind of botched knowing
2001 Interview with Baggini and Stangroom
p.150 Formal logic struck me as exactly the language I wanted to think in
p.151 p.151 Analytic philosophy has much higher standards of thinking than continental philosophy
p.151 p.151 How can one discriminate yellow from red, but not the colours in between?
p.153 p.153 What sort of logic is needed for vague concepts, and what sort of concept of truth?
p.154 p.154 Fuzzy logic uses a continuum of truth, but it implies contradictions
p.156 p.156 Close to conceptual boundaries judgement is too unreliable to give knowledge
2002 Necessary Existents
p.240 p.185 Propositions (such as 'that dog is barking') only exist if their items exist
2007 The Philosophy of Philosophy
p.15 Williamson can't base metaphysical necessity on the psychology of causal counterfactuals [Lowe]
Intro p.2 Intuition is neither powerful nor vacuous, but reveals linguistic or conceptual competence
Intro p.8 Progress in philosophy is incremental, not an immature seeking after drama
3.1 p.54 Correspondence to the facts is a bad account of analytic truth
4.7 p.129 You might know that the word 'gob' meant 'mouth', but not be competent to use it
5.4 p.163 We scorn imagination as a test of possibility, forgetting its role in counterfactuals
5.5 p.169 There are 'armchair' truths which are not a priori, because experience was involved
5.6 p.178 Modal thinking isn't a special intuition; it is part of ordinary counterfactual thinking
7.2 p.218 There cannot be vague objects, so there may be no such thing as a mountain
8.1 p.251 If languages are intertranslatable, and cognition is innate, then cultures are all similar
After p.284 The realist/anti-realist debate is notoriously obscure and fruitless
After p.290 Common sense and classical logic are often simultaneously abandoned in debates on vagueness
p.214-5 p.3 When analytic philosophers run out of arguments, they present intuitions as their evidence
2010 Modal Logic within Counterfactual Logic
p.10 Rather than define counterfactuals using necessity, maybe necessity is a special case of counterfactuals [Hale/Hoffmann,A]
1 p.81 Strict conditionals imply counterfactual conditionals: □(A⊃B)⊃(A□→B)
1 p.82 Counterfactual conditionals transmit possibility: (A□→B)⊃(◊A⊃◊B)
1 p.83 Necessity is counterfactually implied by its negation; possibility does not counterfactually imply its negation
3 p.91 In S5 matters of possibility and necessity are non-contingent
6 p.96 Imagination is important, in evaluating possibility and necessity, via counterfactuals
2011 Laudatio: Prof Ruth Barcan Marcus
p.1 p. If a property is possible, there is something which can have it
2013 Modal Logic as Metaphysics
n20 p.68 If talking donkeys are possible, something exists which could be a talking donkey [Cameron]
2014 Knowledge First (and reply)
p.3 p.3 Surely I am acquainted with physical objects, not with appearances?
p.4 p.4 We don't acquire evidence and then derive some knowledge, because evidence IS knowledge
p.4 p.4 Knowledge is prior to believing, just as doing is prior to trying to do
p.5 p.5 Belief explains justification, and knowledge explains belief, so knowledge explains justification
p.5-6 p.5 A neutral state of experience, between error and knowledge, is not basic; the successful state is basic
p.6 p.6 Internalism about mind is an obsolete view, and knowledge-first epistemology develops externalism
p.6 p.6 Inferentialist semantics relies on internal inference relations, not on external references
p.6 p.6 How does inferentialism distinguish the patterns of inference that are essential to meaning?
p.6 p.6 Internalist inferentialism has trouble explaining how meaning and reference relate
p.6 p.6 Truth-conditional referential semantics is externalist, referring to worldly items
p.8 p.8 Knowledge-first says your total evidence IS your knowledge