Michael Williams (philosopher)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Michael Williams
Born 1947 (age 69–70)
Spouse(s) Merdith Williams
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic philosophy
Main interests
epistemology, Wittgenstein

Michael Williams (born July 6, 1947) is a British philosopher who is currently Kreiger-Eisenhower Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University, noted especially for his work in epistemology.

Education and Career[edit]

He received his BA from the University of Oxford and his PhD. from Princeton University under the direction of Richard Rorty. He taught at Yale University, the University of Maryland, and Northwestern University prior to joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins.[1]

He is married to philosopher and Wittgenstein scholar Meredith Williams, a recently retired member of the Johns Hopkins philosophy faculty.

In 2007, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[2]

Philosophical Work[edit]

Williams is best known as an epistemologist, but he also has significant interest in the philosophy of language, Wittgenstein, and the history of modern philosophy. Other scholars know him particularly for his work on philosophical skepticism. In his books (1992) and (2001), Williams performs what he calls a "theoretical diagnosis" of skepticism, according to which the soundness of skepticism presupposes a realist view of knowledge itself; that is, skepticism presupposes that knowledge is a context-invariant entity rather like a natural kind. By dispensing with this realist assumption that distinguishes the epistemological context from other contexts, the skeptical argument becomes unsound and can therefore be rejected. With this solution to the skeptical problem, Williams thereby defends a contextualist view of knowledge, but one that differs considerably from other contextualists such as Stewart Cohen and Keith DeRose. In addition to working on skepticism as a theoretical problem, Williams has a strong interest in the historical development of the skeptical tradition and defends the view that skeptical arguments in modern and contemporary philosophy differ in fundamental ways from similar or related arguments developed in antiquity.


  • Groundless Belief (1977)
  • Unnatural Doubts (1992)
  • Problems of Knowledge (2001)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]