On Two Versions of 'the Surprise Examination Paradox'

Philosophia 41 (1):159-170 (2013)
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Abstract

In this paper, I consider a popular version of the clever student’s reasoning in the surprise examination case, and demonstrate that a valid argument can be constructed. The valid argument is a reductio ad absurdum with the proposition that the student knows on the morning of the first day that the teacher’s announcement is fulfilled as its reductio. But it would not give rise to any paradox. In the process, I criticize Saul Kripke’s solution and Timothy Williamson’s attack on a key step of the student’s reasoning. I then consider the condemned prisoner case in W. V. Quine’s paper ‘On a So-Called Paradox’. I argue that the prisoner’s reasoning as conceived by Quine is more relevant and reasonable than the student’s argument in the popular version of the surprise examination case. I also argue that Quine’s criticism of the prisoner’s reasoning is correct, and therefore that the condemned prisoner case, and the surprise examination case as well, would not generate any paradox

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Leo Cheung
Chinese University of Hong Kong

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):105-116.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):452-458.
Blindspots.Roy A. Sorensen - 1988 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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