Category Archives: Timothy Williamson

Timothy Williamson

Sceptics are troublemakers who can disrupt our position without having a coherent position of their own, by presenting us with considerations to which we cannot find a response that we find satisfying. If they are sick, they infect us with their sickness. Although some people have more natural immunity than others, probably few epistemologists feel no conflict at all within themselves between sceptical and anti-sceptical tendencies.

Timothy Williamson, ‘Knowledge and Scepticism’, in Frank Jackson and Michael Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy, Oxford, 2005, p. 694

Timothy Williamson

[P]hilosophers defending a given position against opponents have a powerful vested interest in persuading themselves that the intuitions that directly or indirectly favour it are stronger than they actually are. The stronger those intuitions, the more those who appeal to them gain, both psychologically and professionally. Given what is known of human psychology, it would be astonishing if such vested interests did not manifest themselves in at least some degree of wishful thinking, some tendency to overestimate the strength of intuitions that help one’s cause and underestimate the strength of those that hinder it.

Timothy Williamson, ‘Philosophical ‘Intuitions’ and Scepticism about Judgement’, Dialectica, vol. 58, no. 1 (March, 2004), p. 110

Timothy Williamson

An initial reaction is: how many closed problems are there in philosophy? But of course philosophy is so tolerant of dissent that even if a philosophical problem is solved, an ingenious philosopher can always challenge an assumption of the solution and still be counted as doing philosophy. Thus, as Austin noted, philosophical progress tends to be constituted by the creation of new disciplines, such as logic and formal semantics, less tolerant of philosophical dissent. I suspect that this gradual hiving off of bits of philosophy once philosophers have brought them under sufficient theoretical control will continue.

Timothy Williamson, In Vincent F. Hendricks and John Symons (eds.), Formal Philosophy, 2005