About this topic
Summary Suppose Sally has good reason to believe that the bank will be open on Saturday. Many epistemologists have thought that she may know this when the stakes are low, but not when they are high. For example, if Sally will be evicted from her home if she doesn't get to the bank on Saturday to deposit a paycheck, then one might argue she doesn't know that the bank will be open. Perhaps she needs to aquire more evidence than normal in order to know. Both invariantists and contextualists have tried to capture such cases, often based on the idea that this is clearly what we would ordinarily say about such cases. On some construals, these are empirical claims which can be further tested by rigorous experimental tools. Researchers have been producing data on ordinary judgments about such cases. Some test vignettes drawn directly from the literature, while others invent new cases to answer new questions that have arisen in light of the studies. The literature is currently in development, and results are somewhat mixed: experiments have uncovered effects of changing context on knowledge ascriptions, but it is disputed whether those effects should be explained using contextualist or invariantist resources. 
Key works The "first wave" of experimental studies of knowledge attributions in connection with contextualism and invariantism include Buckwalter 2010, May et al 2010, Feltz & Zarpentine 2010, and Schaffer & Knobe 2012. DeRose 2011 offers a theoretical defense of contextualism in response to these studies. The "second wave" of experimental studies, which focus on "interest relative" invariantism, includes Pinillos 2012, Sripada & Stanley 2012, and Buckwalter & Schaffer 2015. Nat & Emmanuel 2013 focuses on contextualism and provides evidence of contextual effects on knowledge ascriptions.
Introductions A good overview of the current state of the debate is Pinillos 2016
Related categories

38 found
  1. Salience and Epistemic Egocentrism: An Empirical Study.Joshua Alexander, Chad Gonnerman & John Waterman - forthcoming - In James Beebe (ed.), Advances in Experimental Epistemology. Continuum.
    Jennifer Nagel (2010) has recently proposed a fascinating account of the decreased tendency to attribute knowledge in conversational contexts in which unrealized possibilities of error have been mentioned. Her account appeals to epistemic egocentrism, or what is sometimes called the curse of knowledge, an egocentric bias to attribute our own mental states to other people (and sometimes our own future and past selves). Our aim in this paper is to investigate the empirical merits of Nagel’s hypothesis about the psychology involved (...)
  2. Advances in Experimental Epistemology.James Beebe (ed.) - 2014 - Bloomsbury Academic.
  3. Experimental Epistemology.James Beebe - 2012 - In Andrew Cullison (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Epistemology. Continuum. pp. 248-269.
    An overview of the main areas of epistemological debate to which experimental philosophers have been contributing and the larger, philosophical challenges these contributions have raised.
  4. Pragmatic Encroachment and Epistemically Responsible Action.Kenneth Boyd - 2016 - Synthese 193 (9).
    One prominent argument for pragmatic encroachment (PE) is that PE is entailed by a combination of a principle that states that knowledge warrants proper practical reasoning, and judgments that it is more difficult to reason well when the stakes go up. I argue here that this argument is unsuccessful. One problem is that empirical tests concerning knowledge judgments in high-stakes situations only sometimes exhibit the result predicted by PE. I argue here that those judgments that appear to support PE are (...)
  5. Experimental Philosophy, Contextualism and SSI.Jessica Brown - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (2):233-261.
    I will ask the conditional question: if folk attributions of "know" are not sensitive to the stakes and/or the salience of error, does this cast doubt on contextualism or subject-sensitive invariantism (SSI)? I argue that if it should turn out that folk attributions of knowledge are insensitive to such factors, then this undermines contextualism, but not SSI. That is not to say that SSI is invulnerable to empirical work of any kind. Rather, I defend the more modest claim that leading (...)
  6. Introduction: Knowledge Ascriptions - Their Semantics, Cognitive Bases and Social Functions.Jessica Brown & Mikkel Gerken - 2012 - In Jessica Brown & Mikkel Gerken (eds.), Knowledge Ascriptions. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-30.
  7. Epistemic Contextualism and Linguistic Behavior.Wesley Buckwalter - 2017 - In Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism. New York: Routledge. pp. 44-56.
    Epistemic contextualism is the theory that “knows” is a context sensitive expression. As a linguistic theory, epistemic contextualism is motivated by claims about the linguistic behavior of competent speakers. This chapter reviews evidence in experimental cognitive science for epistemic contextualism in linguistic behavior. This research demonstrates that although some observations that are consistent with epistemic contextualism can be confirmed in linguistic practices, these observations are also equally well explained both by psychological features that do not provide support for contextualism and (...)
  8. The Mystery of Stakes and Error in Ascriber Intuitions.Wesley Buckwalter - 2014 - In James Beebe (ed.), Advances in Experimental Epistemology. Bloomsbury Academic.
    Research in experimental epistemology has revealed a great, yet unsolved mystery: why do ordinary evaluations of knowledge ascribing sentences involving stakes and error appear to diverge so systematically from the predictions professional epistemologists make about them? Two recent solutions to this mystery by Keith DeRose (2011) and N. Ángel Pinillos (2012) argue that these differences arise due to specific problems with the designs of past experimental studies. This paper presents two new experiments to directly test these responses. Results vindicate previous (...)
  9. Non-Traditional Factors in Judgments About Knowledge.Wesley Buckwalter - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (4):278-289.
    One recent trend in contemporary epistemology is to study the way in which the concept of knowledge is actually applied in everyday settings. This approach has inspired an exciting new spirit of collaboration between experimental philosophers and traditional epistemologists, who have begun using the techniques of the social sciences to investigate the factors that influence ordinary judgments about knowledge attribution. This paper provides an overview of some of the results these researchers have uncovered, suggesting that in addition to traditionally considered (...)
  10. Knowledge Isn't Closed on Saturday: A Study in Ordinary Language.Wesley Buckwalter - 2010 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (3):395-406.
    Recent theories of epistemic contextualism have challenged traditional invariantist positions in epistemology by claiming that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions fluctuate between conversational contexts. Contextualists often garner support for this view by appealing to folk intuitions regarding ordinary knowledge practices. Proposed is an experiment designed to test the descriptive conditions upon which these types of contextualist defenses rely. In the cases tested, the folk pattern of knowledge attribution runs contrary to what contextualism predicts. While preliminary, these data inspire prima (...)
  11. Knowledge, Stakes, and Mistakes.Wesley Buckwalter & Jonathan Schaffer - 2015 - Noûs 49 (2):201–234.
    According to a prominent claim in recent epistemology, people are less likely to ascribe knowledge to a high stakes subject for whom the practical consequences of error are severe, than to a low stakes subject for whom the practical consequences of error are slight. We offer an opinionated "state of the art" on experimental research about the role of stakes in knowledge judgments. We draw on a first wave of empirical studies--due to Feltz & Zarpentine (2010), May et al (2010), (...)
  12. Testing What’s at Stake: Defending Stakes Effects for Testimony.Michel Croce & Paul Poenicke - forthcoming - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy.
    This paper investigates whether practical interests affect knowledge attributions in cases of testimony. It is argued that stakes impact testimonial knowledge attributions by increasing or decreasing the requirements for hearers to trust speakers and thereby gain the epistemic right to acquire knowledge via testimony. Standard, i.e. invariantist, reductionism and non-reductionism fail to provide a plausible account of testimony that is stakes sensitive, while non- invariantist versions of both traditional accounts can remedy this deficiency. Support for this conceptual analysis of stakes (...)
  13. Knowledge Attributions and the Psychology of Reasoning: A Case Against Contextualism.Zvonimir Čuljak & Dragana Sekulić - 2013 - Prolegomena 12 (2):381-412.
    Epistemic contextualism in the works of S. Cohen, K. DeRose, D. Lewis and others amounts to the semantic thesis that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions or denials vary according to the contextually shifting standards for knowledge attributions and to the indexical character of the predicate “knows”. This semantic variation is primarily due to the pragmatic features of the attributor context, depending on “what is at stake” for the attributor. In this paper contextualism is confronted with some invariantist objections. These (...)
  14. Contextualism, Contrastivism, and X-Phi Surveys.Keith DeRose - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (1):81-110.
    I will here sharply oppose all the phases of the story Schaffer & Knobe tell. In Part 1 we will look at the supposed empirical case against standard contextualism, and in Part 2 we will investigate Schaffer & Knobe’s supposed empirical case for the superiority of contrastivism over standard contextualism.
  15. Anit-Intellectualism, Egocentrism and Bank Case Intuitions.Alexander Dinges - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-17.
    Salience-sensitivity is a form of anti-intellectualism that says the following: whether a true belief amounts to knowledge depends on which error-possibilities are salient to the believer. I will investigate whether salience-sensitivity can be motivated by appeal to bank case intuitions. I will suggest that so-called third-person bank cases threaten to sever the connection between bank case intuitions and salience-sensitivity. I will go on to argue that salience-sensitivists can overcome this worry if they appeal to egocentric bias, a general tendency to (...)
  16. Do You Know More When It Matters Less?Adam Feltz & Chris Zarpentine - 2010 - Philosophical Psychology 23 (5):683–706.
    According to intellectualism, what a person knows is solely a function of the evidential features of the person's situation. Anti-intellectualism is the view that what a person knows is more than simply a function of the evidential features of the person's situation. Jason Stanley (2005) argues that, in addition to “traditional factors,” our ordinary practice of knowledge ascription is sensitive to the practical facts of a subject's situation. In this paper, we investigate this question empirically. Our results indicate that Stanley's (...)
  17. Advances in Experimental Epistemology. [REVIEW]Jie Gao - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (1):101-105.
  18. Does Contextualism Hinge on A Methodological Dispute?Jie Gao, Mikkel Gerken & Stephen B. Ryan - forthcoming - In Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism.
    In this entry, we provide an overview of some of the methodological debates surrounding contextualism and consider whether they are, in effect, based on an underlying methodological dispute. We consider three modes of motivation of epistemic contextualism including i) the method of cases, ii) the appeal to linguistic analogies and iii) the appeal to conceptual analogies and functional roles. We also consider the methodological debates about contextualism arising from experimental philosophy. We conclude that i) there is no distinctive methodological doctrine (...)
  19. Third-Person Knowledge Ascriptions: A Crucial Experiment for Contextualism.Jumbly Grindrod, James Andow & Nat Hansen - 2017 - Mind & Language.
    In the past few years there has been a turn towards evaluating the empirical foundation of epistemic contextualism using formal (rather than armchair) experimental methods. By-and-large, the results of these experiments have not supported the original motivation for epistemic contextualism. That is partly because experiments have only uncovered effects of changing context on knowledge ascriptions in limited experimental circumstances (when contrast is present, for example), and partly because existing experiments have not been designed to distinguish between contextualism and one of (...)
  20. Experimenting on Contextualism.Hansen Nat & Chemla Emmanuel - 2013 - Mind and Language 28 (3):286-321.
    This paper concerns the central method of generating evidence in support of contextualist theories, what we call context shifting experiments. We begin by explaining the standard design of context shifting experiments, which are used in both quantitative surveys and more traditional thought experiments to show how context affects the content of natural language expressions. We discuss some recent experimental studies that have tried and failed to find evidence that confirms contextualist predictions about the results of context shifting experiments, and consider (...)
  21. Contrasting Cases.Nat Hansen - 2014 - In James Beebe (ed.), Advances in Experimental Epistemology. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 71-95.
    This paper concerns the philosophical significance of a choice about how to design the context shifting experiments used by contextualists and anti-intellectualists: Should contexts be judged jointly, with contrast, or separately, without contrast? Findings in experimental psychology suggest (1) that certain contextual features are more difficult to evaluate when considered separately, and there are reasons to think that one feature--stakes or importance--that interests contextualists and anti-intellectualists is such a difficult to evaluate attribute, and (2) that joint evaluation of contexts can (...)
  22. A Slugfest of Intuitions: Contextualism and Experimental Design.Nat Hansen - 2013 - Synthese 190 (10):1771-1792.
    This paper considers ways that experimental design can affect judgments about informally presented context shifting experiments. Reasons are given to think that judgments about informal context shifting experiments are affected by an exclusive reliance on binary truth value judgments and by experimenter bias. Exclusive reliance on binary truth value judgments may produce experimental artifacts by obscuring important differences of degree between the phenomena being investigated. Experimenter bias is an effect generated when, for example, experimenters disclose (even unconsciously) their own beliefs (...)
  23. On an Alleged Truth/Falsity Asymmetry in Context Shifting Experiments.Nat Hansen - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (248):530-545.
    Keith DeRose has argued that context shifting experiments should be designed in a specific way in order to accommodate what he calls a ‘truth/falsity asymmetry’. I explain and critique DeRose's reasons for proposing this modification to contextualist methodology, drawing on recent experimental studies of DeRose's bank cases as well as experimental findings about the verification of affirmative and negative statements. While DeRose's arguments for his particular modification to contextualist methodology fail, the lesson of his proposal is that there is good (...)
  24. The Disagreement Challenge to Contextualism.Justin Khoo - forthcoming - In Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism.
    I articulate the challenge disagreement poses for epistemic contextualism, and then discuss several possible replies on behalf of the contextualist.
  25. Practical Interests, Relevant Alternatives, and Knowledge Attributions: An Empirical Study.Joshua May, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Jay G. Hull & Aaron Zimmerman - 2010 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (2):265–273.
    In defending his interest-relative account of knowledge in Knowledge and Practical Interests (2005), Jason Stanley relies heavily on intuitions about several bank cases. We experimentally test the empirical claims that Stanley seems to make concerning our common-sense intuitions about these bank cases. Additionally, we test the empirical claims that Jonathan Schaffer seems to make in his critique of Stanley. We argue that our data impugn what both Stanley and Schaffer claim our intuitions about such cases are. To account for these (...)
  26. Knowledge Ascriptions. [REVIEW]R. Mckenna - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (259):292-295.
  27. Evidence That Stakes Don't Matter for Evidence.Mark Phelan - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology (4):1-25.
  28. Experiments on Contextualism and Interest Relative Invariantism.Ángel Pinillos - 2016 - In Wesley Buckwalter & Justin Sytsma (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Blackwell. pp. 349-358.
  29. Knowledge, Experiments, and Practical Interests.Ángel Pinillos - 2012 - In Jessica Brown & Mikkel Gerken (eds.), Knowledge Ascriptions. Oxford University Press. pp. 192.
    Recently, some philosophers have defended the idea that knowledge is an interest-relative notion. According to this thesis, whether an agent knows P may depend on the practical costs of her being wrong about P. This perspective marks a radical departure from traditional accounts that take knowledge to be a purely intellectual concept. I think there is much to say on behalf of the interest-relative notion. In this paper, I report on some new evidence which strongly suggests that ordinary people’s attributions (...)
  30. Experimental Evidence in Support of Anti-Intellectualism About Knowledge.Ángel Pinillos & Shaun Simpson - 2014 - In James Beebe (ed.), Advances in Experimental Epistemology. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 9-44.
  31. Some Recent Work in Experimental Epistemology.N. Ángel Pinillos - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (10):675-688.
    In this paper I survey some recent developments in experimental philosophy and discuss their bearing on two leading theories in epistemology: Contextualism and Interest Relative Invariantism. In the first part of the paper, I survey some general issues of how experimental philosophy may be relevant to assessing contextualism and IRI. In the second part, I discuss and critique some of the recent experimental work.
  32. Nothing at Stake in Knowledge.David Rose, Edouard Machery, Stephen Stich, Mario Alai, Adriano Angelucci, Renatas Berniūnas, Emma E. Buchtel, Amita Chatterjee, Hyundeuk Cheon, In-Rae Cho, Daniel Cohnitz, Florian Cova, Vilius Dranseika, Ángeles Eraña Lagos, Laleh Ghadakpour & Maurice Grinberg - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Do stakes affect ordinary knowledge ascriptions? Epistemic contextualists and interest relative invariantist claim that stakes do play a role in ordinary knowledge ascription. But results from a large scale cross-cultural study we conducted suggested otherwise. We collected data on people’s judgments in response to high and low stakes versions of “Bank Cases”. The cases were translated into 14 different languages and data was collected from 4504 people across nineteen sites, spanning fifteen countries. In every site sampled, we find that stakes (...)
  33. Surveys, Intuitions, Knowledge Attributions.Patrick Rysiew - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (1):111-120.
  34. Contrastive Knowledge Surveyed.Jonathan Schaffer & Joshua Knobe - 2012 - Noûs 46 (4):675-708.
    Suppose that Ann says, “Keith knows that the bank will be open tomorrow.” Her audience may well agree. Her knowledge ascription may seem true. But now suppose that Ben—in a different context—also says “Keith knows that the bank will be open tomorrow.” His audience may well disagree. His knowledge ascription may seem false. Indeed, a number of philosophers have claimed that people’s intuitions about knowledge ascriptions are context sensitive, in the sense that the very same knowledge ascription can seem true (...)
  35. Time Constraints and Pragmatic Encroachment on Knowledge.Joseph Shin - 2014 - Episteme 11 (2):157-180.
    Citing some recent experimental findings, I argue for the surprising claim that in some cases the less time you have the more you know. More specifically, I present some evidence to suggest that our ordinary knowledge ascriptions are sometimes sensitive to facts about an epistemic subject's truth-irrelevant time constraints such that less is more. If knowledge ascriptions are sensitive in this manner, then this is some evidence of pragmatic encroachment. Along the way, I consider comments made by Jonathan Schaffer and (...)
  36. Empirical tests of interest-relative invariantism.Chandra Sekhar Sripada & Jason Stanley - 2012 - Episteme 9 (1):3-26.
    According to Interest-Relative Invariantism, whether an agent knows that p, or possesses other sorts of epistemic properties or relations, is in part determined by the practical costs of being wrong about p. Recent studies in experimental philosophy have tested the claims of IRI. After critically discussing prior studies, we present the results of our own experiments that provide strong support for IRI. We discuss our results in light of complementary findings by other theorists, and address the challenge posed by a (...)
  37. Epistemic Contextualism: An Idle Hypothesis.John Turri - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):141-156.
    Epistemic contextualism is one of the most hotly debated topics in contemporary epistemology. Contextualists claim that ‘know’ is a context-sensitive verb associated with different evidential standards in different contexts. Contextualists motivate their view based on a set of behavioural claims. In this paper, I show that several of these behavioural claims are false. I also show that contextualist test cases suffer from a critical confound, which derives from people's tendency to defer to speakers’ statements about their own mental states. My (...)
  38. Descartes’s Schism, Locke’s Reunion: Completing the Pragmatic Turn in Epistemology.John Turri & Wesley Buckwalter - forthcoming - American Philosophical Quarterly.
    Centuries ago, Descartes and Locke initiated a foundational debate in epistemology over the relationship between knowledge, on the one hand, and practical factors, on the other. Descartes claimed that knowledge and practice are fundamentally separate. Locke claimed that knowledge and practice are fundamentally united. After a period of dormancy, their disagreement has reignited on the contemporary scene. Latter-day Lockeans claim that knowledge itself is essentially connected to, and perhaps even constituted by, practical factors such as how much is at stake, (...)