University of California, Los Angeles
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1990
New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America
  •  1282
    Solving the skeptical problem
    Philosophical Review 104 (1): 1-52. 1995.
  •  703
    Assertion, knowledge, and context
    Philosophical Review 111 (2): 167-203. 2002.
    This paper uses the knowledge account of assertion (KAA) in defense of epistemological contextualism. Part 1 explores the main problem afflicting contextualism, what I call the "Generality Objection." Part 2 presents and defends both KAA and a powerful new positive argument that it provides for contextualism. Part 3 uses KAA to answer the Generality Objection, and also casts other shadows over the prospects for anti-contextualism.
  •  686
    Contextualism and knowledge attributions
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (4): 913-929. 1992.
  •  446
    Contextualism: An explanation and defense
    In J. Greco & E. Sosa (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, Blackwell. pp. 187--205. 1998.
    In epistemology, “contextualism” denotes a wide variety of more-or-less closely related positions according to which the issues of knowledge or justification are somehow relative to context. I will proceed by first explicating the position I call contextualism, and distinguishing that position from some closely related positions in epistemology, some of which sometimes also go by the name of “contextualism”. I’ll then present and answer what seems to many the most pressing of the objections to c…Read more
  •  367
    Epistemic possibilities
    Philosophical Review 100 (4): 581-605. 1991.
  •  361
    Contextualism, contrastivism, and X-Phi surveys
    Philosophical Studies 156 (1): 81-110. 2011.
    I will here sharply oppose all the phases of the story Schaffer & Knobe tell. In Part 1 we will look at the supposed empirical case against standard contextualism, and in Part 2 we will investigate Schaffer & Knobe’s supposed empirical case for the superiority of contrastivism over standard contextualism.
  •  303
    Knowledge, assertion and lotteries
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4). 1996.
    In some lottery situations, the probability that your ticket's a loser can get very close to 1. Suppose, for instance, that yours is one of 20 million tickets, only one of which is a winner. Still, it seems that (1) You don't know yours is a loser and (2) You're in no position to flat-out assert that your ticket is a loser. "It's probably a loser," "It's all but certain that it's a loser," or even, "It's quite certain that it's a loser" seem quite alright to say, but, it seems, you're in no posi…Read more
  •  296
    The best grounds for accepting contextualism concerning knowledge attributions are to be found in how knowledge-attributing (and knowledge-denying) sentences are used in ordinary, nonphilosophical talk: What ordinary speakers will count as “knowledge” in some non-philosophical contexts they will deny is such in others. Contextualists typically appeal to pairs of cases that forcefully display the variability in the epistemic standards that govern ordinary usage: A “low standards” case (henceforth…Read more
  •  282
    Contextualism has been hotly debated in recent epistemology and philosophy of language. The Case for Contextualism is a state-of-the-art exposition and defense of the contextualist position, presenting and advancing the most powerful arguments in favor of the view and responding to the most pressing objections facing it.
  •  276
    I present the features of the ordinary use of 'knows' that make a compelling case for the contextualist account of that verb, and I outline and defend the methodology that takes us from the data to a contextualist conclusion. Along the way, the superiority of contextualism over subject-sensitive invariantism is defended, and, in the final section, I answer some objections to contextualism.
  •  253
    Gradable adjectives: A defence of pluralism
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1): 141-160. 2008.
    This paper attacks the Implicit Reference Class Theory of gradable adjectives and proposes instead a ?pluralist? approach to the semantics of those terms, according to which they can be governed by a variety of different types of standards, one, but only one, of which is the group-indexed standards utilized by the Implicit Reference Class Theory
  •  237
    Fortunately for those of us who work on the topic, Ernie Sosa has devoted much of his (seemingly inexhaustible) intellectual energy to the problem of philosophical skepticism. And to great effect. With the three exceptions of Peter Unger, whose 1975 Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism is a grossly under-appreciated classic of epistemology; Timothy Williamson, whose 2000 Knowledge and its Limits is, I hope, on its way to being a less underappreciated classic; and Thomas Reid, I have benefitted more …Read more
  •  235
    Ought we to follow our evidence?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (3): 697-706. 2000.
    fits our evidence.[1] I will propose some potential counter-examples to test this evidentialist thesis. My main intention in presenting the “counter-examples” is to better understand Feldman’s evidentialism, and evidentialism in general. How are we to understand what our evidence is, how it works, and how are we to understand the phrase “epistemically ought to believe” such that evidentialism might make sense as a plausible thesis in light of the examples? Of course, we may decide that there’s n…Read more
  •  233
    How Can We Know that We’re Not Brains in Vats?
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 38 (Supplement): 121-148. 2000.
    This should be fairly close to the text of this paper as it appears in The Southern Journal of Philosophy 38 (2000), Spindel Conference Supplement: 121-148.
  •  212
    The problem with subject-sensitive invariantism
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (2). 2004.
    Thomas Blackson does not question that my argument in section 2 of “Assertion, Knowledge and Context” establishes the conclusion that the standards that comprise a truth-condition for “I know that P” vary with context, but does claim that this does not suffice to validly demonstrate the truth of contextualism, because this variance in standards can be handled by what we will here call Subject-Sensitive Invariantism (SSI), and so does not demand a contextualist treatment. According to SSI, the va…Read more
  •  203
    Single scoreboard semantics
    Philosophical Studies 119 (1-2): 1-21. 2004.
    What happens to the "conversational score" when speakers in a conversation push the score for a context-sensitive term in different directions? In epistemology, contextualists are often construed as holding that both the skeptic ("You don't know!") and her opponent ("Oh, yes I do!") speak truthfully when they debate. This assumes a "multiple scoreboards" version of contextualism. But contextualists themselves typically opt for "single scoreboard" views on which such apparently competing claims r…Read more
  •  167
    Conditional assertions and "biscuit" conditionals
    with Richard E. Grandy
    Noûs 33 (3): 405-420. 1999.
    kind of joke to ask what is the case if the antecedent is false—“And where are the biscuits if I don’t want any?”, “And what’s on PBS if I’m not interested?”, “And who shot Kennedy if that’s not what I’m asking?”. With normal indicative conditionals like.
  •  163
    The Conditionals of Deliberation
    Mind 119 (473): 1-42. 2010.
    Practical deliberation often involves conditional judgements about what will (likely) happen if certain alternatives are pursued. It is widely assumed that the conditionals useful in deliberation are counterfactual or subjunctive conditionals. Against this, I argue that the conditionals of deliberation are indicatives. Key to the argument is an account of the relation between 'straightforward' future-directed conditionals like ' If the house is not painted, it will soon look quite shabby' and * …Read more
  •  160
    Insensitivity is back, baby!
    Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1): 161-187. 2010.
  •  158
    Now you know it, now you don’t
    The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 5 91-106. 2000.
    Resistance to contextualism comes in the form of many very different types of objections. My topic here is a certain group or family of related objections to contextualism that I call “Now you know it, now you don’t” objections. I responded to some such objections in my “Contextualism and Knowledge Attributions” a few years back. In what follows here, I will expand on that earlier response in various ways, and, in doing so, I will discuss some aspects of David Lewis’s recent paper, “Elusive Know…Read more
  •  150
    I should be clear at the outset about what I'll mean -- and won't mean -- by "universalism." As I'll use it, "universalism" refers to the position that eventually all human beings will be saved and will enjoy everlasting life with Christ. This is compatible with the view that God will punish many people after death, and many universalists accept that there will be divine retribution, although some may not. What universalism does commit one to is that such punishment won't last forever. Universal…Read more
  •  143
    Virtually all monotheistic religions profess that there is a divine being who is extremely powerful, knowledgeable, and good. The evils of this world present various challenges for such religions. The starkest challenge is directed toward views that posit a being whose power, knowledge, and goodness are not just immense, but are as great as can be: an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being (for short, an oopg being). For it would seem that such a being would have the power, the knowled…Read more
  •  140
    exactly as the essay appears in Skepticism. It's pretty close, though. In the version that appears in the book, page references to other essays in Skepticism refer to page numbers in the book, while below page references are, for the most part, to the original place of publication of the essays referred to. Also, I below make one correction (in red) of a factual error..
  •  139
    A few years back, I participated in the Spindell Conference in Memphis, and gave a paper, “How Can We Know That We’re Not Brains in Vats?” (available on-line at: The bulk of that paper concerned responses to skepticism. I pursued an unusually radical criticism of the often-criticized “Putnam-style” responses to skepticism. To put it rather enigmatically, I argued that such responses don’t work even if they work! And I compared such responses with the…Read more
  •  132
    Simple 'might's, indicative possibilities and the open future
    Philosophical Quarterly 48 (190): 67-82. 1998.
    are ambiguous. In the mouth of someone who cannot remember whether it was Michael, or rather someone else, who was top scorer, can express the epistemic possibility that Michael led the league in scoring. But from someone who knows that Michael did not even play last season, but is wondering what would have happened if he had, means something quite different. Now where it has this quite different meaning, may still turn out to be the expression of some epistemic possibility. Perhaps where does not…Read more
  •  128
    This is the text for a presentation I gave at the Eastern Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association in Washington, D.C. on December 28, 1998. It was written very quickly, and I haven't had time to go back and fix it up, but I probably won't have time to fix it up any time soon, and several people have requested copies, so I don't see any harm in making it available. Please remember that it is a draft, and don't quote it without permission.
  •  127
    Though he’s perhaps best known for his work on vagueness, Timothy Williamson also produced a series of outstanding papers in epistemology in the late 1980's and the 1990's. Knowledge and its Limits brings this work together. The result is, in my opinion, the best book in epistemology to come out since 1975.
  •  110
    Review of Knowledge and its limits
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (4): 573-577. 2002.
  •  109
    A critical examination of Alvin Plantinga's attempted defense against the dreaded "Great Pumpkin Objection" to his theistic-belief-as-properly-basic religious epistemology.