Contextualism, invariantism and semantic blindness

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (4):639-657 (2009)
Abstract
Epistemic contextualism, many critics argue, entails that ordinary speakers are blind to the fact that knowledge claims have context-sensitive truth conditions. This attribution of blindness, critics add, seriously undermines contextualism. I show that this criticism and, in general, discussions about the error theory entailed by contextualism, greatly underestimates the complexity and diversity of the data about ordinary speakers? inter-contextual judgments, as well as the range of explanatory moves that are open to both invariantists and contextualists concerning such judgments. Contextualism does entail that some speakers suffer from semantic blindness; however, at its roots, this blindness concerns not the context-sensitivity of knowledge claims, but the question whether knowledge sentences possess context-independent truth conditions. I argue that this blindness should not be deemed problematic, but that invariantism entails an error theory that is, by comparison, much more troubling
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References found in this work BETA
Kent Bach (1994). Conversational Impliciture. Mind and Language 9 (2):124-162.
Kent Bach (2005). The Emperor's New 'Knows'. In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy: Knowledge, Meaning, and Truth. Oxford University Press. 51--89.
Keith DeRose (1992). Contextualism and Knowledge Attributions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (4):913-929.
Keith DeRose (1995). Solving the Skeptical Problem. Philosophical Review 104 (1):1-52.

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