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Carrara, Massimiliano and Fassio, Davide (2008) The Knowability Paradox, perfectibility of science and reductionism. [Conference papers] In: Reduction and the Special Sciences (2008), April 10-12, 2008, Tilburg, NL. (Inedito)

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Abstract (english)

A logical argument known as Fitch’s Paradox of Knowability, starting from the assumption that every truth is knowable, leads to the consequence that every truth is also actually known. Then, given the ordinary fact that some true propositions are not actually known, it concludes, by modus tollens, that there are unknowable truths. The main literature on the topic has been focusing on the threat the argument poses to the so called semantic anti-realist theories, which aim to epistemically characterize the notion of truth; according to those theories, every true proposition must be knowable. But the paradox seems to be a problem also for epistemology and philosophy of science: the conclusion of the paradox – the claim that there are unknowable truths – seems to seriously narrow our epistemic possibilities and to constitute a limit for knowledge. This fact contrasts with certain views in philosophy of science according to which every scientific truth is in principle knowable and, at least at an ideal level, a perfected, “all-embracing”, omniscient science is possible.
The main strategies proposed in order to avoid the paradoxical conclusion, given their effectiveness, are able to address only semantic problems, not epistemological ones. However, recently Bernard Linsky (2008) proposed a solution to the paradox that seems to be effective also for the epistemological problems. In particular, he suggested a possible way to block the argument employing a type-distinction of knowledge.
In the present paper, firstly, we introduce the paradox and the threat it represents for a certain views in epistemology and philosophy of science; secondly, we show Linsky’s solution; thirdly, we argue that this solution, in order to be effective, needs a certain kind of justification, and we suggest a way of justifying it in the scientific field; fourthly, we show that the effectiveness of our proposal depends on the degree of reductionism adopted in science: it is available only if we do not adopt a complete reductionism.

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EPrint type:Conference papers (Relazione)
Anno di Pubblicazione:01 June 2008
Key Words:Knowability Paradox; omniscience; reductionism.
Settori scientifico-disciplinari MIUR:Area 11 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche > M-FIL/02 Logica e filosofia della scienza
Struttura di riferimento:Dipartimenti > pre 2012 - Dipartimento di Filosofia
Codice ID:1126
Depositato il:31 Jul 2008
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