On the linguistic basis for contextualism

Philosophical Studies 119 (1-2):119-146 (2004)
Contextualism in epistemology is the doctrine that the proposition expressed by a knowledge attribution relative to a context is determined in part by the standards of justification salient in that context. The (non-skeptical) contextualist allows that in some context c, a speaker may truly attribute knowledge at a time of a proposition p to Hannah, despite her possession of only weak inductive evidence for the truth of that proposition. Relative to another context, someone may make the very same knowledge attribution to Hannah, yet be speaking falsely, because the epistemic standards in that context are higher. The reason this is possible, according to the contextualist, is that the two knowledge attributions express different propositions.
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DOI 10.1023/B:PHIL.0000029353.14987.34
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James Pryor (2004). What's Wrong with Moore's Argument? Philosophical Issues 14 (1):349–378.

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Cross-posted from http://mleseminar.wordpress.com/

The presentation is here. Some thoughts which came out of the discussion:

- If Stanley’s argument in section 3 that gradability doesn’t imply context-sensitivity is sound, then it renders section 2 rather superfluous, as that is devoted to arguing that ‘knows’ is not gradable.

- But even if Stanley’s argument in section 3 is sound, his argument against contextualism still looks pretty weak. At most he’s shown that ‘knows’ isn’t contextual in virtue of  ‘justified’ being gradable. But it’s a perfectly consistent position to say that the context-sensitivity of knowledge is of a distinctive kind, different from the context-sensitivity of gradable adjectives. Plausibly, Lewisian contextualism is of this sort.

- Stanley’s argument in section 3 doesn’t look sound to me. It rests strongly on the supposed counterexample of a gradable and non-context sensitive predicate ‘ taller than six feet’. This is meant to be gradable because you can be slig ... (read more)