Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||When you pick up a volume like this one, which describes itself as being about ‘knowledge ascriptions’, you probably expect to find it full of papers on epistemology, broadly construed. And you’d probably expect many of those papers to concern themselves with cases where the interests of various parties (ascribers, subjects of the ascriptions, etc.) change radically, and this affects the truth values of various ascriptions. And, at least in this paper, your expectations will be clearly met. But here’s an interesting contrast. If you’d picked up a volume of papers on ‘belief ascriptions’, you’d expect to find a radically different menu of writers and subjects. You’d expect to find a lot of concern about names and demonstratives, and about how they can be used by people not entirely certain about their denotation. More generally, you’d expect to find less epistemology, and much more mind and language. I haven’t read all the companion papers to mine in this volume, but I bet you won’t find much of that here. This is perhaps unfortunate, since belief ascriptions and knowledge ascriptions raise at least some similar issues. Consider a kind of contextualism about belief ascriptions, which holds that (L) can be truly uttered in some contexts, but not in others, depending on just what aspects of Lois Lane’s psychology are relevant in the conversation.1 (L) Lois Lane believes that Clark Kent is vulnerable to kryptonite. We could imagine a theorist who says that whether (L) can be uttered truly depends on whether it matters to the conversation that Lois Lane might not recognise Clark Kent when he’s wearing his Superman uniform. And, this theorist might continue, this isn’t because ‘Clark Kent’ is a context-sensitive expression; it is rather because ‘believes’ is context-sensitive. Such a theorist will also, presumably, say that whether (K) can be uttered truly is context-sensitive. (K) Lois Lane knows that Clark Kent is vulnerable to kryptonite. And so, our theorist is a kind of contextualist about knowledge ascriptions..|
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