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indubitability

william p. alston


Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


Extract

‘Indubitability’ means, of course, not being subject to doubt, or, modally expressed, the impossibility of doubt. Think of the term as applied to a particular bit of knowledge or a particular belief, for example, my knowledge that the wind is blowing hard here and now. We may distinguish at least three importantly different understandings of indubitability: (1) a psychological impossibility of entertaining a doubt: (2) a logical impossibility of entertaining a doubt (it is sometimes held that no sense can be attached to a person's being in doubt as to whether s/he is having a certain sensation); (3) the impossibility of there being any (real) grounds for doubt ( Alston, 1989 , ch. 10). Each of these has been supposed by various philosophers to attach to knowledge of self-evident truths or of one's current conscious states, though it is (3) that is of the most obvious and indubitable epistemological significance. descartes is a philosopher who notoriously put great stock in indubitability (of the third sort) as necessary for knowledge. : Epistemic Justification ( Ithaca , NY : Cornell University Press , 1989 ). ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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