Impurism, pragmatic encroachment, and the Argument from Principles

Synthese 199 (1-2):975-982 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The Argument from Principles, the primary motivation for impurism or pragmatic encroachment theories in epistemology, is often presented as an argument for everyone—an argument that proceeds from harmless premises about the nature of rationally permissible action to the surprising conclusion that one’s knowledge is partly determined by one’s practical situation. This paper argues that the Argument from Principles is far from neutral, as it presupposes the falsity of one of impurism’s main competitors: epistemic contextualism. As a consequence, hybrid positions combining impurism and contextualism—positions that impurists have sometimes hinted at in the literature—are, while logically consistent, ill-motivated. Once the impurist embraces contextualism, the Argument from Principles can no longer get off the ground. The paper concludes that those who make use of the Argument from Principles are committed to an invariantist impurism and their case in support of impurism can only ever be as strong as their case against contextualism. Given recent contextualist work on the semantics of ‘knowledge’-attributions, this is likely to turn out problematic for the impurists.

Similar books and articles

A Solution to Knowledge’s Threshold Problem.Michael Hannon - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (3):607-629.
Small Stakes Give You the Blues: The Skeptical Costs of Pragmatic Encroachment.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofía.
Varieties of Pragmatic Encroachment.Hamid Vahid - 2014 - Acta Analytica 29 (1):25-41.
Science, values, and pragmatic encroachment on knowledge.Boaz Miller - 2014 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 4 (2):253-270.
Pragmatic encroachment, stakes, and religious knowledge.Aaron Rizzieri - 2011 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 70 (3):217-229.


Added to PP

391 (#44,822)

6 months
144 (#17,981)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Michael Blome-Tillmann
McGill University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and practical interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge in an uncertain world.Jeremy Fantl & Matthew McGrath - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Matthew McGrath.
Knowledge and Action.John Hawthorne & Jason Stanley - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (10):571-590.
Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (219):353-356.

View all 26 references / Add more references