Knowledge, Epistemic Possibility, and Scepticism

Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles (1990)

Keith DeRose
Yale University
In Chapter 1, I defend contextualism--the view that the standards for knowing that a subject must live up to in order for sentences attributing knowledge to her to be true vary according to various features of the contexts in which these sentences are uttered. ;In Chapter 2, I propose and defend a hypothesis as to the truth conditions of epistemic modal statements; I argue that if it is epistemically possible from a subject's point of view that not-p, then she does not know that p; and, since, according to my analysis, epistemic possibilities largely have to do with what is and is not known by various people, I extend the contextualist treatment of knowledge to cover epistemic possibilities. ;An external world skeptic may claim that whenever we attribute external world knowledge to someone, we are saying something false. In Chapter 3, I investigate the arguments which might be thought to support this bold sceptical claim. Such an argument, if it is good, presents us with a puzzle: its premises together with the negation of its conclusion form an inconsistent set of propositions, all of which seem plausible. I argue that contextualism provides the best resolution of these sceptical puzzles. We, therefore, have more reason to accept contextualism. And since this contextualist resolution is better than the sceptic's , the arguments do not support the sceptic's conclusion. ;Alternatively, an external world sceptic might accept contextualism and admit that we may be saying something true when, in everyday life, we claim to know this or that, but then claim that she is using 'know' in a philosophical setting in which the standards for knowledge are very high, and that, therefore, she is saying something true when she denies that we know anything about the external world. In Chapter 4, I argue that this philosophical sceptic's denials of knowledge don't have any of the interest they initially appear to have
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Insensitivity is Back, Baby!Keith DeRose - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):161-187.

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