Contextualism in Epistemology and the Context-Sensitivity of 'Knows'

In Campbell, O'Rourke & Silverstein (eds.), Knowledge and Skepticism (2010)
The central issue of this essay is whether contextualism in epistemology is genuinely in conflict with recent claims that ‘know’ is not in fact a contextsensitive word. To address this question, I will first rehearse three key aims of contextualists and the broad strategy they adopt for achieving them. I then introduce two linguistic arguments to the effect that the lexical item ‘know’ is not context sensitive, one from Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore, one from Jason Stanley. I find these and related arguments quite compelling. In particular, I think Cappelen and Lepore (2003, 2005a) show pretty definitively that ‘know’ is not like ‘I’/‘here’/‘now’, and Stanley (2004) shows that ‘know’ is not like ‘tall’/‘rich’.1 One could try to find another model for ‘know’. Instead, I consider whether one can rescue ‘‘the spirit of contextualism in epistemology’’—that is, achieve its aims by deploying a strategy of appealing to speaker context—even while granting that ‘know’ isn’t a context-sensitive word at all. My conclusion, in a nutshell, is this: If there are pragmatic determinants of what is asserted/stated, and contextualism can overcome independent problems not having to do specifically with the context-sensitivity of the word ‘know’, then the spirit of contextualism can be salvaged. Even though, for reasons sketched by the aforementioned authors, ‘know’ doesn’t actually belong in the class of context-sensitive words.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2013
DOI 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014083.003.0007
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,803
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Nonindexical Contextualism.John MacFarlane - 2009 - Synthese 166 (2):231-250.
Compatibilist Alternatives.Joseph K. Campbell - 2005 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (3):387-406.
Pragmatic Contextualism.Geoff Pynn - 2015 - Metaphilosophy 46 (1):26-51.
Contemporary Ordinary Language Philosophy.Nat Hansen - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (8):556-569.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Hold the Context Fixed, Vagueness Still Remains.Jonas Åkerman & Patrick Greenough - 2010 - In Sebastiano Moruzzi & Richard Dietz (eds.), Cuts and Clouds. Oxford University Press. pp. 275--88.
Contextualism and a Puzzle About Seeing.Ram Neta - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 134 (1):53-63.
The Semantics of Knowledge Attributions.Nikola Kompa - 2005 - Acta Analytica 20 (1):16-28.
Nonindexical Contextualism.John MacFarlane - 2009 - Synthese 166 (2):231-250.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
92 ( #58,546 of 2,202,778 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #301,722 of 2,202,778 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature