Knowledge claims and context: belief

Philosophical Studies 172 (2):399-432 (2015)
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The use of ‘S knows p’ varies from context to context. The contextualist theories of Cohen, Lewis, and DeRose explain this variation in terms of semantic hypotheses: ‘S knows p’ is indexical in meaning, referring to features of the ascriber’s context like salience, interests, and stakes. The linguistic evidence against contextualism is extensive. I maintain that the contextual variation of knowledge claims results from pragmatic factors. One is variable strictness :395–438, 2007). In addition to its strict use, ‘S knows p’ may be used loosely to implicate that S is close enough to knowing p for contextually indicated purposes. Here I explore another variable: belief about what is known. This factor is pragmatic rather than semantic in that it affects the use of ‘S knows p’ without affecting its truth conditions. While variation in strictness accounts for the variation in the bank, parking, and some lottery cases, variation in belief accounts for the variation in other lottery cases and the epistemology cases. Along the way, I sketch an insensitive invariantist semantics that is strict but non-skeptical, and show how it works with these pragmatic factors.



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Wayne Davis
Georgetown University

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Studies in the way of words.Herbert Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Knowledge and lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and practical interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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