Semantic relativism and ways of knowing

Synthese:1-21 (forthcoming)
Leonid Tarasov
University of Manchester
There is a long-standing view in epistemology that perception is a way of knowing. There is a less long-standing but increasingly popular view that knowledge attributions have a relativist semantics. I discuss three things here. First, I show that it is a consequence of the logic of RKA that WOK and RKA are incompatible. Second, I argue that, even if WOK is incompatible with the main rivals to RKA, this is not a consequence of the logics of these views. RKA comes with a hitherto unobserved philosophical consequence that its main rivals do not come with. Third, I consider some responses to the effect that it does not matter that RKA comes with this consequence, and argue that they are all unsatisfactory as they stand. I conclude that, at the very least, the onus is placed on relativists to engage with more epistemology than they currently do to show that we do not need to worry about the incompatibility of WOK and RKA. I conclude with some suggestions about the broader relevance and implications of this paper.
Keywords Semantic relativism  Ways of knowing  Knowledge attributions  Perception  Assessment-sensitivity  Logical implication
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-017-1572-z
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