Contextualist resolutions of philosophical debates

Metaphilosophy 39 (4-5):571-590 (2008)
Abstract: Despite all the critical scrutiny they have received recently, contextualist views in philosophy are still not well understood. Neither contextualists nor their opponents have been entirely clear about what contextualist theses amount to and what they are based on. In this article I show that there are actually two kinds of contextualist view that rest on two very different semantic phenomena, namely, semantic incompleteness and semantic indeterminacy . I explain how contextualist approaches can be used to dissolve certain debates in philosophy. According to such approaches, the same philosophical thesis can be correctly endorsed in some contexts and correctly denied in others: it is thus pointless to seek a context-independent solution to debates about this thesis. My purpose is not to defend particular contextualist views but to lay out the general framework on which they rest: this allows us to see more clearly the similarities and differences among contextualist views defended in various areas of philosophy.
Keywords vagueness  contextualism  incompleteness  knowledge  indeterminacy
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