About this topic

The motto of pragmatic encroachment is "the practical encroaches on the epistemic".  This pragmatic approach is exemplified by those who argue that there are practical conditions on knowing.  However, proponents of pragmatic encroachment differ in terms of their explanations of how the pragmatic encroaches on knowledge.  For example, it has been proposed that there are practical conditions on believing, on evidence and evidential support, and most prominently, on having knowledge-level justification.  Arguments for this pragmatic view of knowledge have primarily been grounded in the ordinary use of ‘knows’ as well as the epistemic norms governing action and deliberation.  These pragmatic views have been used to address issues related to skepticism, knowledge closure principles, and the value of knowledge.

Key works The recent discussion of pragmatic encroachment began with Fantl & McGrath 2002 and were then followed by extended discussions in Hawthorne 2003Stanley 2005, DeRose 2009, Fantl & McGrath 2009, and Weatherson 2012.  Arguments for and against pragmatic accounts of knowledge that focus on knowledge ascriptions are found in DeRose 2004, DeRose 2005, Schaffer 2006Pinillos 2011Sripada & Stanley 2012, Buckwalter & Schaffer 2015, and Kim 2016.  Arguments for and against the pragmatic account that focus on the epistemic norms of action are found in Hawthorne & Stanley 2008Brown 2008Reed 2010Fantl & Mcgrath 2012Brown 2013, and Brown 2013.  Discussions of practical conditions on believing are found in Weatherson 2005, Armendt 2010, and Ross & Schroeder 2014.  Historical predecessors to the contemporary discussion are found in the debate about the ethics of belief (James 1896Clifford 1877) and the value-ladenness of science (Rudner 1953, Levi 1960).
Introductions Fantl & McGrath 2009, Kim 2017
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  1. Contextualism and Fallibility: Pragmatic Encroachment, Possibility, and Strength of Epistemic Position.Jonathan E. Adler - 2012 - Synthese 188 (2):247-272.
    A critique of conversational epistemic contextualism focusing initially on why pragmatic encroachment for knowledge is to be avoided. The data for pragmatic encroachment by way of greater costs of error and the complementary means to raise standards of introducing counter-possibilities are argued to be accountable for by prudence, fallibility and pragmatics. This theme is sharpened by a contrast in recommendations: holding a number of factors constant, when allegedly higher standards for knowing hold, invariantists still recommend assertion (action), while contextualists do (...)
  2. Pragmatic Encroachment, Methods and Contextualism.Jonathan E. Adler - 2012 - Analysis 72 (3):526-534.
    Defence of conditions to withdraw an assertion that require evidence or epistemic reasons that the assertion is not true or warranted. (Adler, J. 2006. Withdrawal and contextualism. Analysis 66: 280–85) The defence replies to the claim that better methods justify withdrawal without meeting that requirement and without pragmatic encroachment.
  3. Withdrawal and Contextualism.Jonathan E. Adler - 2006 - Analysis 66 (4):280–285.
  4. Pragmatic Arguments in the Qur'an for Belief.M. Shahid Alam - manuscript
  5. On the Intimate Relationship of Knowledge and Action.Charity Anderson - 2015 - Episteme 12 (3):343-353.
    Pragmatic encroachment offers a picture of knowledge whereby knowledge is unstable. This paper argues that pragmatic encroachment is committed to more instability than has been hitherto noted. One surprising result of the arguments in this paper is that pragmatic encroachment is not merely about changes in stakes. All sorts of practical factors can make for the presence or absence of knowledge on this picture stakes-sensitivity’ is misleading. Furthermore, insufficient attention has been paid to the variety of ways in which on (...)
  6. Pragmatic Encroachment and Closure.Charity Anderson & John Hawthorne - forthcoming - In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge.
  7. Deliberation and Pragmatic Belief.Brad Armendt - forthcoming - In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge.
    To what extent do our beliefs, and how strongly we hold them, depend upon how they matter to us, on what we take to be at stake on them? The idea that beliefs are sometimes stake-sensitive (Armendt 2008, 2013) is further explored here, with a focus on whether beliefs may be stake-sensitive and rational. In contexts of extended deliberation about what to do, beliefs and assessments of options interact. In some deliberations, a belief about what you will do may rationally (...)
  8. Pragmatic Interests and Imprecise Belief.Brad Armendt - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (5):758-768.
    Does the strength of a particular belief depend upon the significance we attach to it? Do we move from one context to another, remaining in the same doxastic state concerning p yet holding a stronger belief that p in one context than in the other? For that to be so, a doxastic state must have a certain sort of context-sensitive complexity. So the question is about the nature of belief states, as we understand them, or as we think a theory (...)
  9. Stakes and Beliefs.Brad Armendt - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (1):71 - 87.
    The idea that beliefs may be stake-sensitive is explored. This is the idea that the strength with which a single, persistent belief is held may vary and depend upon what the believer takes to be at stake. The stakes in question are tied to the truth of the belief—not, as in Pascal’s wager and other cases, to the belief’s presence. Categorical beliefs and degrees of belief are considered; both kinds of account typically exclude the idea and treat belief as stake-invariant (...)
  10. Stake-Invariant Belief.Brad Armendt - 2008 - Acta Analytica 23 (1):29-43.
    What can rational deliberation indicate about belief? Belief clearly influences deliberation. The principle that rational belief is stake-invariant rules out at least one way that deliberation might influence belief. The principle is widely, if implicitly, held in work on the epistemology of categorical belief, and it is built into the model of choice-guiding degrees of belief that comes to us from Ramsey and de Finetti. Criticisms of subjective probabilism include challenges to the assumption of additive values (the package principle) employed (...)
  11. Contextualism Without Pragmatic Encroachment.B. Armour-Garb - 2011 - Analysis 71 (4):667-676.
    In ‘Withdrawal and contextualism’, Jonathan Adler (2006) provides an argument which, if successful, undermines what contextualists take to be prime support for their view. Given the popularity of contextualist (and related) positions in epistemology, together with the fact that, thus far, no one has challenged Adler's argument, a critical assessment therefore presses. In this article, after briefly reviewing Adler's argument, I show that it fails. My reason for taking his argument to fail will then provide novel support for contextualism, one (...)
  12. Applying Pragmatics to Epistemology.Kent Bach - 2008 - Philosophical Issues 18 (1):68-88.
    This paper offers a smattering of applications of pragmatics to epistemology. In most cases they concern recent epistemological claims that depend for their plausibility on mistaking something pragmatic for something semantic. After giving my formulation of the semantic/pragmatic distinction and explaining how seemingly semantic intuitions can be responsive to pragmatic factors, I take up the following topics: 1. Classic Examples of Confusing Meaning and Use 2. Pragmatic Implications of Hedging or Intensifying an Assertion 3. Belief Attributions 4. Knowledge-wh 5. The (...)
  13. Anti-Luck Epistemology, Pragmatic Encroachment, and True Belief.Nathan Ballantyne - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (4):485-503.
  14. Pragmatic Encroachment and Practical Reasons.Anne Baril - forthcoming - In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge.
  15. Pragmatic Encroachment in Accounts of Epistemic Excellence.Anne Baril - 2013 - Synthese 190 (17):3929-3952.
    Recently a number of philosophers have argued for a kind of encroachment of the practical into the epistemic. Fantl and McGrath, for example, argue that if a subject knows that p, then she is rational to act as if p. (Fantl and McGrath 2007) In this paper I make a preliminary case for what we might call encroachment in, not knowledge or justification, but epistemic excellence, recent accounts of which include those of Roberts and Wood (2007), Bishop and Trout (2005), (...)
  16. Jason Stanley, Knowledge and Practical Interests.T. Basboll - 2007 - Philosophy in Review 27 (3):225.
  17. Doxastic Wronging.Rima Basu & Mark Schroeder - 2019 - In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge. pp. 181-205.
    In the Book of Common Prayer’s Rite II version of the Eucharist, the congregation confesses, “we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed”. According to this confession we wrong God not just by what we do and what we say, but also by what we think. The idea that we can wrong someone not just by what we do, but by what think or what we believe, is a natural one. It is the kind of wrong we feel (...)
  18. Knowledge Across Contexts. A Problem for Subject-Sensitive Invariantism.Peter Baumann - 2016 - Dialogue 55 (2):363-380.
    The possibility of knowledge attributions across contexts (where attributor and subject find themselves in different epistemic contexts) can create serious problems for certain views of knowledge. Amongst such views is subject—sensitive invariantism—the view that knowledge is determined not only by epistemic factors (belief, truth, evidence, etc.) but also by non—epistemic factors (practical interests, etc.). I argue that subject—sensitive invariantism either runs into a contradiction or has to make very implausible assumptions. The problem has been very much neglected but is so (...)
  19. Pragmatic Encroachment and Theistic Knowledge.Matthew A. Benton - 2018 - In Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne & Dani Rabinowitz (eds.), Knowledge, Belief, and God: New Insights in Religious Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 267-287.
    If knowledge is sensitive to practical stakes, then whether one knows depends in part on the practical costs of being wrong. When considering religious belief, the practical costs of being wrong about theism may differ dramatically between the theist (if there is no God) and the atheist (if there is a God). This paper explores the prospects, on pragmatic encroachment, for knowledge of theism (even if true) and of atheism (even if true), given two types of practical costs: namely, by (...)
  20. Knowledge Norms.Matthew A. Benton - 2014 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:nn-nn.
    Encyclopedia entry covering the growing literature on the Knowledge Norm of Assertion (and its rivals), the Knowledge Norm of Action (and pragmatic encroachment), the Knowledge Norm of Belief, and the Knowledge Norm of Disagreement.
  21. Subject Sensitive Invariantism: In Memoriam.Martijn Blaauw - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (231):318–325.
    Subject sensitive invariantism is the view that whether a subject knows depends on what is at stake for that subject: the truth-value of a knowledge-attribution is sensitive to the subject's practical interests. I argue that subject sensitive invariantism cannot accept a very plausible principle for memory to transmit knowledge. I argue, furthermore, that semantic contextualism and contrastivism can accept this plausible principle for memory to transmit knowledge. I conclude that semantic contextualism and contrastivism are in a dialectical position better than (...)
  22. Against Weatherson on How to Frame a Decision Problem.Thomas Blackson - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Research.
  23. An Invalid Argument for Contextualism.Thomas A. Blackson - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (2):344–345.
  24. Knowledge and Implicatures.Michael Blome-Tillmann - 2013 - Synthese 190 (18):4293-4319.
    In recent work on the semantics of ‘knowledge’-attributions, a variety of accounts have been proposed that aim to explain the data about speaker intuitions in familiar cases such as DeRose’s Bank Case or Cohen’s Airport Case by means of pragmatic mechanisms, notably Gricean implicatures. This paper argues that pragmatic explanations of the data regarding ‘knowledge’-attributions are unsuccessful and concludes that in explaining those data we have to resort to accounts that (a) take those data at their semantic face value (Epistemic (...)
  25. Contextualism, Subject-Sensitive Invariantism, and the Interaction of ‘Knowledge’-Ascriptions with Modal and Temporal Operators.Michael Blome-Tillmann - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (2):315-331.
    Jason Stanley has argued recently that Epistemic Contextualism (EC) and Subject-Sensitive Invariantism (SSI) are explanatorily on a par with regard to certain data arising from modal and temporal embeddings of 'knowledge'-ascriptions. This paper argues against Stanley that EC has a clear advantage over SSI in the discussed field and introduces a new type of linguistic datum strongly suggesting the falsity of SSI.
  26. Stanley on the Knowledge-Relation.Steffen Borge - 2008 - SATS 9 (1):109-124.
    The latest newcomer on the epistemology scene is Subject-Sensitive Invariantism (SSI), which is the view that even though the semantics of the verb “know” is invariant, the answer to the question of whether someone knows something is sensitive to factors about that person. Factors about the context of the purported knower are relevant to whether he knows some proposition p or not. In this paper I present Jason Stanley's version of SSI, a theory Stanley calls Interest-Relative Invariantism (IRI). The core (...)
  27. 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 (...)
  28. Knowledge in an Uncertain World * by Jeremy Fantl and Matthew McGrath.Kenneth Boyd - 2011 - Analysis 71 (1):189-191.
    A review of Jeremy Fantl and Matthew McGrath's "Knowledge in an Uncertain World.".
  29. Contextualist Approaches to Epistemology: Problems and Prospects.Elke Brendel & Christoph Jäger - 2004 - Erkenntnis 61 (2-3):143 - 172.
    In this paper we survey some main arguments for and against epistemological contextualism. We distinguish and discuss various kinds of contextualism, such as attributer contextualism (the most influential version of which is semantic, conversational, or radical contextualism); indexicalism; proto-contextualism; Wittgensteinian contextualism; subject, inferential, or issue contextualism; epistemic contextualism; and virtue contextualism. Starting with a sketch of Dretske's Relevant Alternatives Theory and Nozick's Tracking Account of Knowledge, we reconstruct the history of various forms of contextualism and the ways contextualists try to (...)
  30. Impurism, Practical Reasoning, and the Threshold Problem.Jessica Brown - 2013 - Noûs 47 (1):179-192.
    I consider but reject one broad strategy for answering the threshold problem for fallibilist accounts of knowledge, namely what fixes the degree of probability required for one to know? According to the impurist strategy to be considered, the required degree of probability is fixed by one's practical reasoning situation. I distinguish two different ways to implement the suggested impurist strategy. According to the Relevance Approach, the threshold for a subject to know a proposition at a time is determined by the (...)
  31. 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 (...)
  32. Practial Reasoning, Decision Theory and Anti-Intellectualism.Jessica Brown - 2012 - Episteme 9 (1):1-20.
    In this paper, I focus on the most important form of argument for anti-intellectualism, one that exploits alleged connections between knowledge and practical reasoning. I first focus on a form of this argument which exploits a universal principle, Sufficiency, connecting knowledge and practical reasoning. In the face of putative counterexamples to Sufficiency, a number of authors have attempted to reformulate the argument with a weaker principle. However, I argue that the weaker principles suggested are also problematic. I conclude that, so (...)
  33. Knowledge and Practical Reason.Jessica Brown - 2008 - Philosophy Compass 3 (6):1135-1152.
    It has become recently popular to suggest that knowledge is the epistemic norm of practical reasoning and that this provides an important constraint on the correct account of knowledge, one which favours subject-sensitive invariantism over contextualism and classic invariantism. I argue that there are putative counterexamples to both directions of the knowledge norm. Even if the knowledge norm can be defended against these counterexamples, I argue that it is a delicate issue whether it is true, one which relies on fine (...)
  34. Subject‐Sensitive Invariantism and the Knowledge Norm for Practical Reasoning.Jessica Brown - 2008 - Noûs 42 (2):167-189.
  35. Adapt or Die: The Death of Invariantism?Jessica Brown - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (219):263–285.
    Contextualists support their view by appeal to cases which show that whether an attribution of knowledge seems correct depends on attributor factors. Contextualists conclude that the truth-conditions of knowledge attributions depend on the attributor's context. Invariantists respond that these cases show only that the warranted assertability-conditions of knowledge attributions depend on the attributor's context. I examine DeRose's recent argument against the possibility of such an invariantist response, an argument which appeals to the knowledge account of assertion and the context-sensitivity of (...)
  36. Review: Knowledge and Lotteries. [REVIEW]A. Brueckner - 2005 - Mind 114 (453):160-165.
  37. SSSI Disinterred.Anthony Brueckner - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (238):160-161.
    I reply to Martijn Blaauw's recent article about subject sensitive invariantism, in which he argues that SSI, unlike its contextualist and contrastivist competitors, cannot give a proper account of memorial knowledge. I argue that these theories are on a par when it comes to such an account.
  38. Contextualism, SSI and the Factivity Problem.Anthony Brueckner & Christopher T. Buford - 2009 - Analysis 69 (3):431-438.
    There is an apparent problem stemming from the factivity of knowledge that seems to afflict both contextualism and subject-sensitive invariantism . 1 In this article, we will first explain how the problem arises for each theory, and then we will propose a uniform resolution.1. The factivity problem for contextualismLet K t stands for X knows _ at t. Let h stand for S has hands. According to contextualism, ‘K t’ is true as uttered in some ordinary conversational contexts. Let O (...)
  39. 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 (...)
  40. 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 (...)
  41. 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), (...)
  42. Rational Acceptance and Purpose: An Outline of a Pragmatic Epistemology.D. S. Clarke - 1988 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  43. Rational Acceptance and Purpose: An Outline of a Pragmatic Epistemology.D. S. Clarke - 1988 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  44. Contextualism and Interest-Relative Invariantism.E. I. Coffman - 2012 - In Andrew Cullison (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Epistemology. Continuum. pp. 199.
    Classical Invariantism (CI): The truth-value of a given knowledge-ascribing (-denying) sentence is (a) invariant across conversational contexts and (b) independent of how important it is to the subject (S) that the relevant proposition (P) be true.
  45. Does Knowledge Secure Warrant to Assert?E. J. Coffman - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 154 (2):285 - 300.
    This paper fortifies and defends the so called Sufficiency Argument (SA) against Classical Invariantism. In Sect. 2,I explain the version of the SA formulated but then rejected by Brown (2008a). In Sect. 3, I show how cases described by Hawthorne (2004), Brown (2008b), and Lackey (forthcoming) threaten to undermine one or the other of the SA's least secure premises. In Sect. 4,I buttress one of those premises and defend the reinforced SA from the objection developed in Sect. 3.
  46. Pragmatic Encroachment and Having Reasons.Stewart Cohen - forthcoming - In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge.
  47. Does Practical Rationality Constrain Epistemic Rationality? [REVIEW]Stewart Cohen - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (2):447-455.
  48. Knowledge, Speaker and Subject.Stewart Cohen - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (219):199–212.
    I contrast two solutions to the lottery paradox concerning knowledge: contextualism and subject-sensitive invariantism. I defend contextualism against an objection that it cannot explain how 'knows' and its cognates function inside propositional attitude reports. I then argue that subject-sensitive invariantism fails to provide a satisfactory resolution of the paradox.
  49. A Note on Knowledge-First Decision Theory and Practical Adequacy.Juan Comesaña - forthcoming - In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge.
  50. Epistemic Pragmatism.Juan Comesaña - 2013 - Res Philosophica 90 (2):237-260.
    By “epistemic pragmatism” in general I will understand the claim that whether propositions instantiate certain key epistemic properties (such as being known orbeing justifiably believed) depends not just on factors traditionally recognized as epistemic, but also on pragmatic factors, such as how costly it would be to the subject if the proposition were false. In what follows I consider two varieties of epistemic pragmatism. According to what I shall call moderate epistemic pragmatism, how much evidence we need in favor of (...)
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