A priori knowledge contextualised and Benacerraf's dilemma

Acta Analytica 19 (33):31-44 (2004)
In this article, I discuss Hawthorne'€™s contextualist solution to Benacerraf'€™s dilemma. He wants to find a satisfactory epistemology to go with realist ontology, namely with causally inaccessible mathematical and modal entities. I claim that he is unsuccessful. The contextualist theories of knowledge attributions were primarily developed as a response to the skeptical argument based on the deductive closure principle. Hawthorne uses the same strategy in his attempt to solve the epistemologist puzzle facing the proponents of mathematical and modal realism, but this problem is of a different nature than the skeptical one. The contextualist theory of knowledge attributions cannot help us with the question about the nature of mathematical and modal reality and how they can be known. I further argue that Hawthorne'€™s account does not say anything about a priori status of mathematical and modal knowledge. Later, Hawthorne adds to his account an implausible claim that in some contexts a gettierized belief counts as knowledge.
Keywords epistemological contextualism   a priori knowledge  Benacerraf’s dilemma  John Hawthorne
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