, Volume 160, Issue 3, pp 391-405

Interpretation and knowledge maximization

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Abstract

Timothy Williamson has proposed that we should give a ‘knowledge first’ twist to David Lewis’s account of content, maintaining that for P to be the content of one’s belief is for P to be the content that would be attributed by an idealized interpreter working under certain constraints, and that the fundamental constraint on interpretation is a principle of knowledge maximization. According to this principle, an interpretation is correct to the extent that it maximizes the number of knowledgeable judgments the subject comes out as making. Here I will argue against knowledge maximization and two fallback positions suggested by Williamson’s discussion. Williamson intends the principle of knowledge maximization to form the basis of an argument against a certain sort of skepticism about judgment. In the final section I argue that the kind of general response to judgment skepticism envisaged by Williamson is neither desirable nor necessary.