•  402
    This article distinguishes Wittgensteinian contextualism from epistemic relativism. The latter involves the view that a belief ’s status as justified depends on the believer’s epistemic system, as well as the view that no system is superior to another. It emerges from the thought that we must rely, circularly, on our epistemic system to determine whether any belief is justified. Contextualism, by contrast, emerges from the thought that we need not answer a skeptical challenge to a belief unless …Read more
  •  292
    Skepticism, Evidence and Entitlement
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1): 36-71. 2013.
  •  262
    Pragmatism, Minimalism, Expressivism
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (3): 317-330. 2010.
    Although contemporary pragmatists tend to be sympathetic to expressivist accounts of moral, modal and other problematic vocabularies, it is not clear that they have any right to be. The problem arises because contemporary pragmatists tend to favour deflationary accounts of truth and reference, thereby seeming to elide the distinction between expressive and repressentational uses of language. To address this problem, I develop a meta-theoretical framework for understanding what is involved in exp…Read more
  •  245
    In this exciting and original introduction to epistemology, Michael Williams explains and criticizes traditional philosophical theories of the nature, limits, methods, possibility, and value of knowing. All the main contemporary perspectives are explored and questioned, and the author's own theories put forward, making this new book essential reading for anyone, beginner or specialist, concerned with the philosophy of knowledge.
  •  202
    In Unnatural Doubts, Michael Williams constructs a masterly polemic against the very idea of epistemology, as traditionally conceived.
  •  201
    Contextualism, externalism and epistemic standards
    Philosophical Studies 103 (1). 2001.
    I want to discuss an approach to knowledge that I shall call simple conversational contextualism or SCC for short. Proponents of SCC think that it offers an illuminating account of both why scepti- cism is wrong and why arguments for scepticism are so intuitively appealing. I have my doubts
  •  197
    Context, meaning, and truth
    Philosophical Studies 117 (1-2): 107-130. 2004.
  •  115
    Do we (epistemologists) need a theory of truth?
    Philosophical Topics 14 (1): 223-242. 1986.
  •  114
    Are there two grades of knowledge?
    Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 77 (1). 2003.
    [Michael Williams] A response to Sosa's criticisms of Sellars's account of the relation between knowledge and experience, noting that Sellars excludes merely animal knowledge, and hopes to bypass epistemology by an adequate philosophy of mind and language. /// [Ernest Sosa] I give an exposition and critical discussion of Sellars's Myth of the Given, and especially of its epistemic side. In later writings Sellars takes a pragmatist turn in his epistemology. This is explored and compared with his …Read more
  •  108
    Pyrrhonian Skepticism and Two Kinds of Knowledge
    International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 1 (2): 124-137. 2011.
    In his Reflective Knowledge, Ernest Sosa offers a theory of knowledge, broadly virtue-theoretic in character, that is meant to transcend simple ways of contrasting "internalist" with "externalist" or "foundationalist" with "coherentist" approaches to knowledge and justification. Getting beyond such simplifications, Sosa thinks, is the key to finding an exit from "the Pyrrhonian Problematic": the ancient and profound skeptical problem concerning the apparent impossibility of validating the reliab…Read more
  •  105
    The Agrippan Problem, Then and Now
    International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 5 (2): 80-106. 2015.
  •  76
    Scepticism without Theory
    Review of Metaphysics 41 (3). 1988.
    PYRRHONIAN SCEPTICISM, as presented in the writings of Sextus Empiricus, differs in various ways from the forms of scepticism that continue to be of such central concern to modern philosophers. Two differences stand out immediately. One is Pyrrhonism's practical orientation. For Sextus, scepticism is a way of life in which suspension of judgment leads to the peace of mind the sceptic identifies with happiness. The other is the puzzling failure on the part of the Pyrrhonists, along with all other…Read more
  •  74
    Fogelin's neo-pyrrhonism
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 7 (2). 1999.
    Robert Fogelin agrees that arguments for Cartesian sceptism carry a heavy burden of theoretical commitment, for they take for granted, explicitly or implicitly, the foundationalist's idea that experimental knowledge is in some fully general way 'epistemologically prior' to knowledge of the world. He thinks, however, that there is a much more direct and commonsensical route to scepticism. Ordinary knowledge-claims are accepted on the basis of justificatory procedures that fall far short of elimin…Read more
  •  68
    The Agrippan argument and two forms of skepticism
    In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Pyrrhonian Skepticism, Oxford University Press. pp. 121--145. 2004.
    This essay argues that the Pyrrhonian regress argument presupposes a Prior Grounding conception of justification. This is contrasted with a Default and Challenge structure, which leads to a contextualist picture of justification. Contextualism is said to incorporate the best features of its traditionalist rivals — foundationalism and coherentism — and also to avoid skepticism. It is argued that we should not ask which conception is really true, but instead give up epistemological realism.
  •  61
    Coherence, Justification, and Truth
    Review of Metaphysics 34 (2). 1980.
    THE central idea of modern empiricism has been that, if there is to be such a thing as justification at all, empirical knowledge must be seen as resting on experiential "foundations." To claim that knowledge rests on foundations is to claim that there is a privileged class of beliefs the members of which are "intrinsically credible" or "directly evident" and which are able, therefore, to serve as ultimate terminating points for chains of justification. An important development in current epistem…Read more
  •  57
    Unnatural Doubts
    Philosophical Quarterly 43 (172): 389. 1993.
  •  55
    Truth and Objectivity
    Philosophical Review 104 (1): 145. 1995.
  •  47
    Inspired by the work of Wilfrid Sellars, Michael Williams launches an all-out attack on what he calls "phenomenalism," the idea that our knowledge of the world rests on a perceptual or experiential foundation.
  •  47
    Still Unnatural: A Reply to Vogel and Rorty
    Journal of Philosophical Research 22 29-39. 1997.
    Professor Vogel claims that my responses to scepticism leave the traditional problems standing . I argue in reply that he fails to take sufficiently seriously the diagnostic character of my enterprise. My aim is not to offer direct refutations of sceptical arguments, taking such arguments at face value, but to undermine their plausibility by revealing their dependence on unacknowledged and contentious theoretical presuppositions. Professor Rorty is much more sympathetic to my approach but thinks…Read more
  •  42
    Knowledge without “Experience”
    International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 1-24. forthcoming.
    Genia Schönbaumsfeld argues that Cartesian skepticism is an illusion induced by the “Cartesian Picture” of perceptual knowledge, in which knowledge of the “external world” depends on an inference from how things subjectively seem to one to how they actually are. To show its incoherence, she draws on the work of John McDowell, which she sees as elaborating a central theme from Wittgenstein’s On Certainty. I argue that Cartesian skepticism is not an illusion, as Schönbaumsfeld understands ‘illusio…Read more